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Ed Koch vs. Al D'amato: I'm Right, You're Wrong

Could the shooting of Patrick Dorismond deal a fatal blow to the mayor? Depends who you ask.Maer Roshan: The police shooting of Patrick Dorismond continues to shake the city. How do you think it will play out?

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Ed Koch: This tragedy is causing Giuliani to unravel. He just can't handle it, and it's going to kill his career. First, the mayor attacked the media, Sharpton, and Hillary, then he whines that everybody is ganging up on him. The truth is, he brought it on himself. When Dorismond was shot, Rudy's first reaction was "Let's wait for the facts." Then unilaterally, illegally, he decided that the facts justify attacking the dead victim -- making up lies about his record.

Al D'Amato: When an unarmed civilian is shot, everyone jumps to conclusions, but you have to look at the facts. The police have said that Mr. Dorismond was attempting to get this cop's gun, and the gun accidentally discharged. Is that true? We don't know yet. But both Hillary and Rudy should just cool it and wait for an investigation! They're not the triers of fact. Rudy's been insensitive. But by politicizing the issue, Hillary's being irresponsible.

E.K.: What's irresponsible is the way Rudy disregards the evidence and backs himself into a corner. When I was mayor, I always presumed police officers acted professionally unless the facts suggested otherwise. In this case, the facts do suggest otherwise. The cop's defense is that the victim grabbed for his gun and it went off accidentally. I don't believe it. No one does! Hillary's absolutely right to point out Rudy's hypocrisy.

A.D.: She's done more than that Ed, and if she's not careful, she'll incite a riot. Hillary's making this political, not the mayor. His intentions were good; he said, "Look, this person has had a record of antisocial, violent, criminal behavior." Though for the life of me, I don't understand why he released his juvenile record. There's no excuse for that.

E.K.: There was no criminality in his record, Al! He was never convicted of a crime. He has two disorderly conducts, which are offenses, not crimes.

A.D.: So Rudy made a mistake.

E.K.: Al, three unarmed black citizens have been killed by cops in this city over the past thirteen months. Their lives were just snuffed out. No wonder people are incensed! The mayor believes he's above the law. Here's a guy who urges everyone not to comment, and then goes out and illegally releases Dorismond's record. He destroys this guy's reputation! Asked why he did this, Rudy says, The public has a right to know! The public has a right to know? This mayor has never given a crap about the public's right to know.

M.R.: How do you think Mrs. Clinton should have responded, Senator?

A.D.: She should have called for an investigation by proper authorities. But instead she's gone around making accusations to inflame everybody.

M.R.: Is Howard Safir too damaged to continue as police commissioner?

E.K.: Absolutely. In the past, I've defended Safir. Now I think he has to go. If he was a public official in Japan, he already would have committed hara-kiri. In America, we settle for resignation.

A.D.: Hara-kiri? Laughs It's presumptuous to call for resignation without the facts, Ed.

M.R.: Improperly releasing the criminal record of a dead citizen isn't enough?

A.D.: No. He was ordered to do so by the mayor.

E.K.: So what? There's no doubt in my mind that when Rudy discussed this with the police commissioner, Safir told him, "You can't do this, Mr. Mayor." And he undoubtedly responded, "I can do anything I damn please." If Safir thought it was wrong, as I'm sure he did, he should have resigned immediately. That's what an honorable person would have done.

A.D.: We don't know whether Safir violated the law or if he erred in judgment.

M.R.: It seems one of the only public figures whose reputation has been enhanced after these shootings is Al Sharpton.

E.K.: It's true. He's become a much more mature figure. Sharpton has been very responsible through all of this. He's asked people to be careful not to engage in violence, and people recognize that. The mayor's effort to villainize him just won't wash anymore.

A.D.: Sharpton has succeeded in legitimizing himself a bit. But he's still not a very reasonable person. Outside the minority community, the perception of him is not positive.

E.K.: With Sharpton's help, Hillary's base will be on fire. Next November, minorities will come out in the largest numbers in history.

A.D.: You're right. Minorities will come out in droves. But Rudy will persevere. Just look at the Saint Patrick's Day parade. Everyone was booing and hissing, and Hillary was walking with you, Ed! Unbelievable! Even when I had only a 32 percent approval rating, no one dared boo me when I was walking with Ed. Why do you think I walked with you for all those years? Lucky for Rudy, even Ed Koch can't make people like Hillary Clinton.


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