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Ed Koch Vs. Al D'Amato

Al sweats a Green administration and declares the House wimp-free; Ed lauds Bush's "shrimp" strategy.

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Jennifer Senior: So. The mayoral election is next week, and the Green campaign is claiming Bloomberg won't be able to cope with future security threats to New York.

Ed Koch: That shocked me. Here we are, wanting people to come to New York, and instead, we have Bill Bratton, who I like, who may be the next police commissioner, frightening people across the country about how it may not be safe here on New Year's Eve. They wanted to injure Bloomberg. Instead, they injured the city.

Al D'Amato: It's total political bullcrap. Okay? You don't have to have had a career in politics to recruit the best police commissioner.

Ed: Do you think that Mark Green is a specialist in police policy? Rudy Giuliani was because he was executive U.S. attorney. Green was the people's ombudsman. That's not exactly being in charge of security.

J.S.: What do you make of Bloomberg's prospects?

Al: It's an uphill climb. He has to establish that he's equipped to deal with tough economic times -- to rally the support of the business community, to encourage business development.

J.S.: You don't think who we pick will be largely an emotional decision? Based on who can best convey a sense of stability? In this way, Bloomberg loses. He barely fills up a TV screen.

Ed: Napoleon was short.

J.S.: But he had presence.

Al: Yeah, but when I see the collection of people around Mark Green -- Elizabeth Holtzman? Ruth Messinger? -- I say, Oh my God, what will this administration be? Liz Holtzman as corporation counsel? God help us all.

Ed: I really worry about the future of the city. The fiscal crisis facing the next mayor is far worse than the one we faced in 1975. He has to be someone who can keep businesses here, keep residents here, and make people feel that there is hope. I am not sanguine that either candidate has the personality -- forget about ability -- to provide that confidence.

Al: Bloomberg really needs one person to embrace him: Giuliani. And it has to be visible, tangible support. The mayor needs to move around the city with him, do media events.

J.S.: Would Giuliani do that? He doesn't seem like the type to wrap his arms around anybody.

Al: I don't know.

Ed: Let me give the next mayor some advice. He should immediately call together the old team that saved New York in 1975 -- Hugh Carey, Felix Rohatyn, and a whole host of other people. I hope that he asks me to help. All pro bono. And he should call together all the city's major CEOs and put them in groups to go to Washington and lobby for us.

J.S.: Speaking of Washington: Senator, are the members of the House, as the Post recently declared, wimps?

Al: Of course not. What they did was prudent. Look what happened when they didn't do it with the postal workers! Who do you think opens mail on Capitol Hill? The congressmen? No! It's the assistants, the interns, young kids.

Ed: I have to disagree. The country was disappointed. When the House shuts down because there's anthrax in the Senate, the House looks bad. Most of them don't answer their mail anyway.

Al: Hey! I always answered my mail.

J.S.: Let's turn to other congressional matters: Does Bush's popularity give him the imprimatur to push through any legislation he wants?

Al: There's always less partisanship during a crisis.

Ed: You also have the Bush style, which is all-embracing. That he now meets for lunch with the Democratic leadership -- it's brilliant! That's how you co-opt people! With shrimp! Points, in fact, to a shrimp.

J.S.: Has Bush grown?

Ed: He's a terrific president. I didn't vote for him, I voted for Gore . . .

Al: Mistake!

Ed: But I said all along that anyone elected and re-elected governor of a major state, where there's a lot of Sturm und Drang, has to have the ability. Just as ideologues downgraded Reagan, they downgraded Bush. Now they know they're wrong. But they'll never admit it.

Al: Yep. Like Harry Truman, he's shown everyone he's capable of doing the job.


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