In A historic first for a first lady, Hillary Clinton has moved from a largely figurehead position to become a winning politician as New York's next US senator. She deserves congratulations. Mrs. Clinton worked hard, courted voters for 16 months, and, in effect, "de-nationalized" herself, appealing to a broad array of the state's voters, especially women.
Indeed, her victory is another watershed in the rise of politically powerful women. She'll join a Senate that will be one-quarter female.
But she didn't rise from the grass roots like most women in politics. Her national celebrity gave her instant status as a candidate in a state that was not her home. And she could become the de facto head of the Democratic Party - depending, of course, on the outcome of the presidential race.
The Clinton who already holds the highest office no doubt felt like something of a winner in New York, too. The taint of the White House scandal was not politically damaging in this instance. Hillary Clinton's triumph suggests she has left that chapter behind. But Bill Clinton's ability to do the same is still in question.
The race between Mrs. Clinton and Rep. Rick Lazio had its disappointments. It hit an ethical high with pledges to forgo soft money, yet it became the year's most expensive Senate race. In the end, both candidates sank into mud-slinging. The senator-elect should learn from the experience and become an active member of the Senate's political reform team.
John McCain, no less, predicted Hillary Clinton would be a "star" in the Senate. Indeed, her prospects for a future run for higher office are already on the lips of pundits.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society