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Ken Vs. Hillary?

Time magazine says the selection of its "man of the year" will go down to the wire. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ken Starr are reportedly in the running.

"Just as she becomes the single most degraded wife in the history of the world, Mrs. Clinton is being promoted from celebrity to iconicity. ... Time is considering beatifying her as Person of the Year," Maureen Dowd observed in her column in The New York Times.

The New York Post predicts that Mrs. Clinton will be upstaged by "her sworn enemy, Kenneth Starr, the persecutor of her and her husband."

Ken Starr

Columnist Neal Travis says that if "the House votes for impeachment and throws Clinton on the Senate's mercy, independent counsel Starr will knock Hillary off her exalted perch in what will be one of the great ironies of our time."

If she does get Time's final cover of 1998, it would be another publicity coup for Mrs. Clinton, who currently graces the front of Vogue magazine and has appeared on Rosie O'Donnell's show and Today.

Time is mum on its selection, refusing to reveal whether Mrs. Clinton is even in the running. The magazine will announce its choice Sunday, with the issue hitting newsstands the next day.

"This is the first time in anyone's memory that the selection has gone right down to the wire," said the magazine's spokeswoman, Debra Richman. "Because the choice by definition reflects the effect that people have had on the news, it is important to factor in all of the news of the year."

Richman pointed out that being on Time's cover is not an accolade, just a measure of newsworthiness. Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and the Ayatollah Khomeini are among those who've appeared since the man of the year began in 1927 with Charles Lindbergh.

Only five man of the year covers have featured women: Wallis Simpson, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Queen Elizabeth II, Corazon Aquino and a 1975 issue dedicated to "American Women."

Time's stated criteria for selecting its man of the year are: "Who had the biggest rise in fame; and who did the most to change the news for better or worse."

Marshall Loeb, a former senior editor of Time and now editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, is betting against Mrs. Clinton. "My own view is that it will be Bill Clinton or a Clinton-Ken Starr combination," he said.

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