Jennifer Senior: So. The Inner Circle dinner, that silly annual variety show starring the mayor and the reporters who cover him, was last week. How'd Mike Bloomberg do?
Ed Koch: Well, this is what I've been telling people: He has the voice of an angel --
Al D'Amato: Ugh, horrible. Only Koch sings worse.
Ed: -- but he's no chorus boy. He can't dance.
J.S.: How do you think he's doing in his negotiations with the State Assembly over the Board of Education?
Ed: If the mayor can't get Shelly Silver and Steve Sanders to give him total authority, he should lead the way in supporting their opponents in November.
Al: C'mon! That won't work.
Ed: So? Let's rattle the cages and frighten them.
Al: Ed, they're not easily frightened.
Ed: Well, the compromise is a board that's advisory in nature, and the mayor gets the power to hire and fire the chancellor.
Al: Let's hope the mayor doesn't have to compromise more than that. The current board is a money pit. Yet the very community that suffers, the minority community, opposes abolishing it.
J.S.: Bloomberg is now requiring municipal hospitals to teach abortion techniques. Why hasn't there been a huge GOP outcry over this?
Al: Well, there's a conscience provision, so doctors who opt out for religious or moral reasons won't be penalized.
J.S.: Republicans don't seem too bent out of shape by the recent moderate maneuvers of George Pataki, either.
Al: Hey, even before he was elected governor, there was no greater tree-hugger in New York than Pataki.
J.S.: Why is it, though, that when Bill Clinton appropriated the issues of the right, it was called "pandering," and when Pataki does it the other way, it's called "moderate"?
Ed: Look, both Clinton and Pataki are great politicians, in that they both responsibly brought people into the big tent.
Al: Besides, ideology is far less important if you're an executive -- whether you're running the country or a state. How do you get things done? By making compromises.
J.S.: So is Hillary also doing a good job?
Al: Both senators are. The easiest thing for me would be to be a bitter old man. But I go to Syracuse to see a client, and who's there, on his time off? Chuck Schumer. He's doing great. Hillary too. She's gonna run for president. She has a huge pac, and there isn't a single Democratic incumbent she hasn't raised money for. She's building a base for 2008.
Ed: I don't think so. She'd lose, and she loves being senator. Her friends will tell her, "Don't do what Bella did." Bella Abzug could have been one of the top three leaders in the House. Instead, she wanted to be a senator. She lost, and that ended her power base. I don't want that to happen to Hillary.
Al: In 1980, at the Steuben Day parade, Bella gave me a hip check to keep me from marching next to Ed Koch that sent me flying across Fifth Avenue. Worthy of the NHL. The Rangers coulda signed her up.
J.S.: I'm not sure how we get from the Rangers to the Mideast, but the carnage in Israel is on everyone's mind. What should be done?
Ed: Israel should start withdrawing from the West Bank now, with a commitment from the United States that we'll support their return if another bomber enters Israel itself.
Al: That's impossible when you have thousands of young fanatics who are willing to blow themselves up. No. It seems Israel will have to do something the U.N. says it can't, which is to establish a no-man's land, a border the Palestinians can't cross.
Ed: The Israelis have to make them understand that for every civilian they kill, the Israelis will kill many more Palestinians.
J.S.: Was Bush a bit late in engaging?
Ed: Nah. What's remarkable is how supportive Tom DeLay has been.
Al: Bush is doing exactly what he should do. He's dispatched Colin Powell, he's had Zinni on the ground. The big problem is enforceability. Neither side trusts the other, right? So who's the enforcer?
J.S.: The U.N.?
Al: Israel'd never allow it.
Ed: The U.N. is shit. Would you allow France, whose ambassador to Great Britain referred to Israel as "a shitty little country," to have any say about what takes place there? Not in my book.
Al: I can't disagree.