The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Senator Hillary becomes a 9-11 hero, centrist chameleon, and Iraq hawk

Ask the public-relations director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a subdivision of the Bush administration's Department of Commerce, how it got the $16 million to fund the ongoing, penetrating investigation of the WTC collapse and evacuation and he will tell you: Hillary Clinton. From a NY point of view, NIST will answer more potentially lifesaving questions than the 9-11 Commission, and its work is a product of Clinton's newest "listening tour"—the one she continuously takes with the families, whose own rating website gave her an A.

Ask a Republican administration at City Hall who's carrying the ball in Washington on homeland-security formulas that put pork ahead of threat, and the annual reports of Bloomberg's Washington lobbying office mention Clinton more than any other legislator. They cite her block-grant amendment that focuses on risk, her Domestic Defense Act that boosts caps for high-threat urban areas, and "several bills" of hers that put "decisionmaking" on the use of homeland funds "in the hands of the City and the first responders themselves." While she has lost some of these battles—by just a couple of Senate votes —she has been the city's centurion in Washington, always on guard.

Her maiden speech on the Senate floor in February 2001—when 9-11 could not have been imagined—was a gracious confession. With only three other senators and a dozen tourists present, she reminded the body that she'd been there before—seven years earlier—"when I came to Capitol Hill with an idea or two about how to improve health care." She said she'd learned "some valuable lessons about the legislative process" from that "unsuccessful" experience—"the importance of bipartisan cooperation and the wisdom of taking small steps to get a big job done."

illustration: David O’Keefe

Details

Related:
Dr. Clinton Versus the Ground Zero Cough
by Christine Lagorio

Attending prayer meetings now with Republican senators who voted to impeach her husband, and chipping away a day at a time on homeland and reconstruction aid for her city, she is slowly getting a big job done. Even if the biggest job may no longer be on her horizon.


Research assistance: Abby Aguirre, Caitlin Chandler, Daniel Magliocco, Marc Schultz, Ben Shestakofsky, and Ned Thimmayya

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