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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Joe Nocera, "The Ed Koch Show": Not Afraid to Say What He Believed

"He took office at a time when New York was in fiscal crisis, and helped his city achieve economic renewal, expand affordable housing, and extend opportunity to more of its people.

In public office and beyond, his energy, force of personality, and commitment to causes ranging from civic issues to the security of the state of Israel always informed and enlivened the public discourse.

Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Ed’s loved ones, and to the city that survives him."

- President Obama on the passing of Ed Koch

"Frankly, I thought that there would come a time when [Obama] would renege on what he conveyed on his support of Israel. It comes a little earlier than I thought it would."

- Ed Koch on Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense (

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Ed Koch Show" (, Joe Nocera observes that Ed Koch was a complicated man, driven by the need for adulation:

"What was most striking about 'Koch,' however, was the extent to which, for Hizzoner, it was always about, well, Ed Koch. He needlessly picks fights, calling people 'schmucks' and 'idiots' when they disagreed with him. He takes actions designed to win him praise in the media. One of his former aides recalls him saying, after reading the paper, that nothing of note had happened that day. What he meant was that he wasn’t mentioned. 'How’m I doin’?' wasn’t just a trademark phrase; it was an expression of a deep psychological need. On the other hand, if that is what drove him to spend $5 billion on new housing, who can complain?

. . . .

New York’s three greatest mayors were also three of its great egotists. It’s no accident."

My goodness, an egotist in politics! It just so happens, I've known more than a few.

But what set Koch apart from Chuck Schumer, for example, was his willingness to say what he believed. Notwithstanding his support for Obama's re-election, Koch did not hesitate to express his true feelings last month concerning Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.

Is there another Democrat out there possessing the integrity to object to Hagel's appointment? Not Schumer. Which brings me to Genesis 18:20-32:

"Then the Lord said, 'Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomor′rah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know.'

So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near, and said, 'Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And the Lord said, 'If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.' Abraham answered, 'Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Wilt thou destroy the whole city for lack of five?' And he said, 'I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.' Again he spoke to him, and said, 'Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.' He answered, 'I will not do it, if I find thirty there.' He said, 'Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.' He answered, 'For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.' Then he said, 'Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there. He answered, 'For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.'"

Ed Koch is gone, and now we are again in need of 10 righteous Democrats. From the looks of it, they're not going to be easy to find.

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