Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. New York Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will likely find herself muttering the old saying to herself more than once in the coming months. She was no doubt muttering it the other day after she stepped, apparently unwittingly, into the long-running ILGO vs. St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee brouhaha.
George Bush was still president when Irish gays and the parade organizers first squared off in 1991. The 2000 parade will be led by a medical doctor for the first time, but as yet there seems to be no cure for the impasse between ILGO and a parade committee that is more intent than ever on preventing Irish gays and lesbians from marching up Fifth Avenue under their own banner. The committee contends that it doesn’t actually bar homosexual marchers; it merely wants them to keep it all to themselves — a kind of "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, parade-style.
The first lady, of course, doesn’t like the concept with regard to the U.S. military and so probably won’t buy the committee’s version either. That leaves her in something of a quandary. She can boycott the parade, along with a number of other leading New York Democrats, thus shoring up support from a voting group not terribly well disposed in the first place to her Senate race rival, Rudolph Giuliani. Or she can step out and march while at the same time proclaiming her belief in ILGO’s cause. That, however, would be risky proposition. She might end up falling between political stools and lose voters from both sides.
Mrs. Clinton has been accused of being both innocent and ignorant after she answered a reporter’s question concerning her participation in the parade at her Irish American coming-out press conference in Manhattan last week. The former is not a crime for a would-be senator in the early days of a campaign. The latter might be seen as a more egregious offense.
Knowledge of controversial issues will be essential in the weeks ahead and there are no better issues than Irish ones to get a candidate warmed up and ready for the fray. Rodham Clinton’s idea of doubling annual U.S. financial support for the International Fund for Ireland is a good one and her apparent support for closure in the cases of the deportees will be widely welcomed.
But then there is the parade. Few will begrudge her a little more time on that one.
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