Jennifer Senior: So the mayoral primary is next week. Shall we start by talking about the endlessly imploding candidacy of Alan Hevesi?
Al D'Amato: Hank Morris is the brain of that operation, and Hevesi is just a puppet. That's a fact. Is the tape recorder on? Brain. Puppet.
Ed Koch: Hevesi is toast. I don't think he took a bribe, but I do believe he exercised the world's worst judgment in trying to get a contract from Bell Atlantic for a political patron. It's unethical. Maybe even criminal.
J.S.: What's with Hank Morris? Why was he supplying free labor to Hevesi?
Ed: He was being dumb. When he threatened to sue the chairman of the Campaign Finance Board, Father O'Hare, I wanted to burst into song. Warbles. "Suuuuue me, suuuuue me, what are ya gonna do me . . . "
J.S.: What do you think of Al Sharpton's endorsement of Freddy Ferrer?
Ed: It doesn't bring much to Freddy. He's made an enormous error in how he's created the so-called black-Latino coalition. He's left out one of the major groups in this town, which is white. What are we, chopped liver?
Al: Peter Vallone has the endorsement of both the Post and the Daily News. Those probably won't translate into votes either.
J.S.: And the Times?
Ed: That's the one institution with some leverage.
Al: But even then, it's worth only one or two points. It may push someone into second place. But if they endorse Green, it's over. Have you noticed he's playing it safe? This is the new Mark Green, the more thoughtful Mark Green.
Ed: The thinner Mark Green.
Al: And he was brilliant in bringing in Bratton.
Ed: Yeah, but I don't think a commercial with Green talking and Bratton sitting on a windowsill is gonna convey that somehow Green is no longer the left-winger we all know he is. He can tell us from today until tomorrow that he's changed his stripes -- you don't at his age.
J.S.: Who would make the best mayor in a recession?
Al: Without a doubt, Vallone, but he has not run an energetic campaign. Even his ad is tired. Stiffens his spine. "We owe it to our veterans, blah blah blah, all prescription drugs . . ." All seniors are to get drug coverage? Gimme a break.
Ed: I'm distressed Giuliani isn't helping the next mayor, whoever that may be. If he were, he'd put a hiring freeze into immediate effect. Roughly 50 percent of the city's expenses are salaries.
J.S.: So what's stopping him? Personal animus? Cowardice? Sloth?
Al: Probably because Ed urged him to do it.
Ed: Good answer.
Al: One thing I hope our new mayor won't do is raise taxes. If he does, we'll return to a situation that once imperiled this city. The very people and businesses who do pay taxes will leave.
J.S.: Can we turn to national politics? Al Gore has recently resurfaced. A chubbier, furrier Al Gore.
Ed: He's last year's news. I don't think he'll have a real impact on the party anymore.
J.S.: International politics, then. Both of you closely follow Israel. What lies ahead?
Al: Sooner, rather than later, Israel will be forced to impose harsher military control. She cannot permit her people to be blown up by so-called martyrs. By the way, if Ariel Sharon weren't leading Israel today -- Sharon, who everyone said was crazy -- we'd have a full-scale war by now.
Ed: I agree, and I don't think George Bush has gotten enough credit from the Jewish community for being supportive of Israel. When he says Arafat has to know there'll be no discussions as long as the violence continues -- that's in opposition to what his father would like.
J.S.: What did you make of W's last-minute congressional victories this summer?
Ed: Well, one's gonna do him in, and that's the tax reduction. When he said he wouldn't use the Social Security surplus, he basically emulated his father's "Read my lips." He's going to rue the day he said that.
J.S.: Well, at least he's well rested.
Al: Ah, this is absolute and total bullshit, charging him with taking a one-month vacation. He moved the summer White House to Texas, and it worked.
Ed: I'm still waiting for my invitation to the ranch.