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What a literary feast. For this summer’s blockbuster read, we’ve been given one of the most exciting choices ever: either the new Harry Potter, which will be released on June 21, or the new Hillary Clinton, which debuts this weekend.

For grown-ups, that’s a no-brainer. Give me Hillary, or give me death on the beach. No matter how much trouble that little four-eyed nerd with magical powers gets into, he can’t match the excitement of Hillary’s learning for the first time from Big Bad Bill that he’d been lying to her about Monica Lewinsky.

As recounted in “Living History,” President Clinton realized he’d have to come clean with his wife once he knew he had to testify about Monica to a federal grand jury. He woke her up on Aug. 15, 1998, and dropped the bomb. For six months, believing his lies, Hillary had defended him. Now she was ready to strangle him.

“I could hardly breathe. Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, ‘What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?’ I was furious and getting more so by the second. He just stood there saying over and over again, ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was trying to protect you and Chelsea.’”

Hillary recounts that she finally decided to stick with her husband, although “as a wife, I wanted to wring Bill’s neck.” The worst part, she says, was having to go to Martha’s Vineyard on vacation together after his grand jury testimony. Fortunately, “Buddy, the dog, came along to keep Bill company. He was the only member of our family who was still willing to.”

Wow! Top that, Harry Potter! Not all the gremlins, Merlins, dragons or flying brooms of Hogwarts could come close to that for dramatic effect.

Simon and Schuster is giving Hillary Clinton a book launch worthy of Harry Potter. She kicks it off on an ABC special with Barbara Walters. Next, the morning talk shows. Then she sets off on a coast-to-coast speaking tour.

Now here’s what’s really exciting. If that sounds like an old-fashioned political campaign, it may well be. If she gets an enthusiastic reception, if big crowds turn out and if books sell like hot cakes, Hillary might just jump into the 2004 presidential race – immediately blowing all nine Democrats already in the race right out of the water.

That possibility already has Republicans jumping with glee. Virginia’s Sen. George Allen, election chair for Senate Republicans, has sent out mailings begging for campaign contributions to “stop Hillary.” He and other GOP leaders are already crowing that she will be easy to beat if she runs in 2004 and will help them raise millions of dollars in the process.

These are the same people who insisted that Hillary Rodham Clinton could never get elected to the U.S. Senate. And for them, I have two words: Rick Lazio. That’s exactly the kind of campaign he ran against her in New York state. He attacked her, demonized her, ridiculed her, took her for granted. And Hillary cleaned his clock. Now Republicans are all set to repeat the same stupid mistake.

It’s still a long shot the former first lady would run in 2004, no matter how many books she sells. Friends insist she’s determined to complete one full term in the Senate before setting her sights on 2008. But I hope she changes her mind. If she does, she will not only win her party’s nomination, she has the best chance of any Democrat to hand George W. Bush a one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas.

Sure, 40 percent of Americans hate Hillary. But they won’t like her any better if she waits till 2008. That leaves the 40 percent who love her now and those 20 percent who will once they see her in action. As she proved in New York, she’s a dynamite candidate. She’s smart, articulate and charismatic. After husband Bill, she’s also the Democrats’ best campaigner and fund-raiser.

Plus, she has one great issue: health care. She was the first to raise the issue in 1993 and the problem didn’t go away; it just got worse. There were 31 million Americans with no health care in 1993. There are 41 million today. It’s time to bring the issue back, and there’s nobody better to do it.

Go, Hillary, go!

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