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The Independent Online
Over the Hill

I'M NOT going to allow the superficially important events of the past few days to deflect me from the real issue of the moment: is Hillary Clinton going to run for the presidency next year?

That she will appears to be taken for granted in some quarters, usually by professional women who do not see that their career can be identified in any way with their husband's. But as Lord Hoffmann discovered last week, what your spouse does for a living can affect public perceptions.

Leaving that aside for a minute, let's assume that Hillary wants to run, and that the Democratic Party would have her - a pretty big leap to make, but never mind. Even if Monicagate could be brushed aside, the campaign would run slap into the Whitewater affair, in which the First Lady is very much implicated in her own right. The thought of that horror being revived is enough to give any Democrat nightmares.

The truth is that, whether she likes it or not, and whether they stay married or not, Hillary will forever be linked with Bill. So to those of you tempted to imagine President Clinton II, all I can say is no way. Never. Forget about it.

Sin and retsina

HERE IN sinful Albion, where the Church of England doesn't seem to be able to make up its mind about anything, be it homosexuality or cloning, we are all too used to moral confusion. Contrast this with the Greek Orthodox rite, which leaves its adherents in no doubt about what to do - or not to do - in almost every situation.

The hierarchy has just released 58 admonitions to the faithful, beginning, not surprisingly, with the need to respect their elders, especially priests. But the list soon gets on to sex. If you are married, it's your job to procreate; if not, you must avoid bad company, indecent books or films, and "outrageous" music. Women are not to dress in men's clothes, or in "provocative" outfits, while men are warned against "hippy" attire.

Few corners of Greek culture are left uncondemned. Football supporters are prohibited from "fanatical behaviour" at matches, nightclubbers should steer clear of sinful dances and people should not damage their health by smoking. Recently Greek Orthodox theologians debated whether environmental pollution was a sin, but, judging by the filthy air in Athens, not to mention the noisy nightclubs filled with chain-smokers, not many people are listening.

Smooth Tung

THE legislature in Hong Kong had no trouble agreeing recently that the territory's chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, should have a press spokesman, but it balked a bit at the proposed salary: nearly pounds 170,000 a year. Mr Tung is a blunt business type who admits that he needs a friendlier image, but surely things cannot be that bad.

It has been pointed out in Hong Kong (population 6.6 million) that Joe Lockhart, the White House press spokesman, whose boss leads the free world and runs a country of 270 million, gets only pounds 74,500 a year. But maybe he is underpaid rather than Tung's flack getting too much. Alastair Campbell, who speaks for the prime minister of a medium-sized nation of 60 million people off the coast of Western Europe, pulls in just over pounds 90,000 a year.

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