Jennifer Senior: This is a scary time, gentlemen. We’re on the brink of war. Has the administration made its case?
Mark Green: No. Neither Bush nor Powell has adequately answered the key question: Why war now? Instead, Bush has argued Imagine if. Anyone can play this game. Imagine if our invasion of this Muslim country inspired more terrorists to retaliate against New York City!
Al D’Amato: Saddam has been thumbing his nose at the world for eleven years, and Powell proved it last week.
Mark: The issue is how best to get Saddam to disarm. Al, aren’t you worried when General Schwarzkopf and General Zinni—Bush’s former Middle East envoy—both say we shouldn’t now invade?
Ed Koch: Those who take the position that Mark takes are way over on the left. They’re radicals—
Mark: And generals.
Ed: The common thread is appeasement.
Mark: No, it’s that such “radicals” as Schwarzkopf and Zinni think the risks exceed the benefits. Bush 41 decided it wasn’t worth the risk to go to Baghdad. Is he one of the radicals you’re talking about?
Ed: I think today, he’d say it was a serious error.
J.S.: A recent Daily News poll found New Yorkers are disproportionately against the war when compared to the nation.
Ed: We always are.
Al: Aaargh. You can’t run government, particularly foreign policy, on the basis of popularity. That’s what the Germans and French are doing.
Mark: Of course, New Yorkers were also disproportionately against us intervening in a civil war called Vietnam.
J.S.: In that same News poll, seven out of ten New Yorkers feared reprisals here in the city.
Ed: There will be more attacks anyway! In his last message, bin Laden basically said, “You will be the subject of our attacks until you convert to Islam.” And I suppose there are some appeasers who’d say, “Well, why not?”
Al: Ah. A true Kochism.
Ed: And last Wednesday, Powell made the case linking Iraq with Al Qaeda. Why wouldn’t there be a link? Iraq supports Hamas and Hezbollah.
Mark: Notwithstanding Powell’s presentation, there’s been scant evidence linking Iraq and Al Qaeda. Your analysis provides the rationale to invade Iran, not Iraq, Ed.
Ed: If the students and supporters of the Iranian president don’t prevail against the mullahs, I have no doubt there will be a clash involving Iran.
Mark: Containment and inspections would work in Iraq.
Al: Bomb the shit out of ’em. That’s what’d work in Iraq.
Ed: I want to talk about something I just saw on television. Jon Corzine said that if Iraq used poison gas against American troops, we shouldn’t use a nuclear response. The people of New Jersey should throw him out of the Senate. The reason Iraq didn’t use poison gas in ’91 is Saddam feared we’d respond with nuclear weapons.
Al: It certainly has to be an alternative for the president.
Mark: Thank God you two aren’t running the State and Defense Departments. First, you provoke Saddam to “use it or lose it” by invading. Then you urge that America reverse its longstanding no-first-use policy by employing nuclear weapons against a Muslim country. You’re itching to get into a nuclear war to get Saddam when we should be focusing on bin Laden.
Al: So you wouldn’t even consider it.
Mark: I don’t want to risk nuclear war like you do.
J.S.: Let’s focus on more parochial matters. Our mayor wants to raise taxes; our governor wants to cut services. Who’s right?
Al: They’re both right!
Mark: Al, I understand you don’t want to have to pick between your friends, but they can’t both be right.
Al: Listen. Does Bloomberg really think he’s going to get the full commuter tax he wants? No way. And the governor has to start out with no new taxes. But at some point, there’ll be a compromise.
Mark: So, according to Al, Pataki is right to say “no new taxes” now, but he’ll also be right when he later concedes.
Al: He may not concede.
Ed: Notice that Pataki has not said, “Read my lips.” There’s room for discussion.
_P$ K2? Al, this is class warfare with a smile. Pataki says “no taxes,” but his budget anticipates substantially increasing taxes and fees for students, straphangers, and seniors. His plan is to soak the middle class and poor, wait for Democrats to do the heavy lifting on taxes, and then, with a great sigh, sign a compromise in the late spring, declaring victory.
J.S.: Mr. Mayor, can you help reconcile these positions?
Ed: I like George Pataki. I supported George Pataki. And I believe he has a good plan. Does that sound Pollyanna?