Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the U.S. Senate has captured the attention of the national media. Many pundits are calling the campaign between the First Lady and Long Island Republican Congressman Rick Lazio “the most closely watched U.S. Senate race in history.” For once, the national press corps may be onto something—but for the wrong reasons.

Democrats are convinced that the election of Hillary Clinton will extend the reign of Clintonism well into the 21st century. They hope that this feminist icon will promote causes dear to the left—children’s “rights,” national health care, abortion, environmentalism, and the homosexual agenda —and then, more importantly, use her Senate seat as a launching pad to an even grander objective: becoming the first female president in American history.

For many conservatives, this is an unfolding nightmare. After enduring President Clinton for nearly eight years, the prospect of Sen. Hillary Clinton (or even worse, President Hillary Clinton) is more than many of them can bear. Understandably, they are championing Rick Lazio with the slogan, “anyone but Hillary.”

Yet nothing is more emblematic of the moral degeneration of the Clinton years than the media’s obsession with the Clinton-Lazio campaign. Mrs. Clinton is not being followed by swarms of journalists because she is an impressive politician with a distinguished record; on tire contrary, she has never held elective office and has no legislative accomplishments—a fact which alone should disqualify her from holding a Senate seat. The Clintons have played out their soap opera drama in front of the entire nation, and now the aggrieved wife wants to become a celebrity in her own right.

Even as leftist Democrats go, the First Lady, who has played a major role in many of the scandals and disasters of the Clinton administration, is an inadequate candidate. Everyone knows the list—Travelgate, national health care, campaign finance scandals, the bombing of Yugoslavia.

But despite her chic radicalism, Mrs. Clinton is not the political operator that her husband is. She is cold, rigid, and self-righteous. The notion that she could become a serious force in American politics is an illusion of both the left and the right.

For all of Mrs. Clinton’s flaws, however, Rick Lazio is no better. The GOP hopeful is a Clintonite politician who throughout his career has pandered to his constituents. And on most issues—abortion, the minimum wage, the environment, government spending, and gun control—he is as far to the left as Mrs. Clinton.

The Clinton-Lazio race is nonetheless important because it embodies the “Clintonizahon” of American politics: a polarizing partisanship in which both national parties have abandoned their principles, hoping to achieve victory by focusing on personalities and expediency.