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

Lunching with Hillary, chewing up Mark Green, and other hair-raising exploits of New York's most cantankerous couple.

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Maer Roshan: The talk of the town last week was the not-so-secret lunch Ed Koch organized to introduce Al D'Amato to Hillary Clinton. How did it go?

Al D'Amato: The best part was at the end, when Ed Koch was forced to dip into his wallet to get out his credit card. I was a little more circumspect.

Ed Koch: But Hillary beat us to it. She got there early to pay the check. She said, "The bill is already taken care of." Such a wonderful woman.

Al: I really think Ed has a crush on her. Hillary and I were both shy at first, but Koch loosened us up. He told the famous Balducci's story.

Ed: Have you heard that one? Shortly after the voters threw me out of Gracie Mansion and I went to my new apartment, I had to go food shopping for the first time in twelve years. So I went up Fifth Avenue to Balducci's, and along the way dozens of people stopped me to say, "Oh, you were a wonderful mayor, it's so nice to have you here." I loved it. But I get to Balducci's, and there sitting on a bike is this disheveled, angry guy, and he yells at me, "You were a terrible mayor!" And I looked at him and yelled back, "Fuck you!" Everyone applauded. I felt liberated for the first time in twelve years.

M.R.: What was the purpose of this little luncheon?

Al: Ed just wanted us to meet. I thought I could be of service to her. Hillary's bright, but it takes time to learn how the Senate works, how to steer legislation through, who you can rely on. We've had our differences, but now that Hillary's senator, it's important to help her advance the interests of New York State.

M.R.: Any surprises?

Al: Yeah. She was much more fun and lighthearted than I expected, but when we talked policy, she was as smart and focused as her husband.

M.R.: The big story of the week, however, was the startling allegation about Bob Kerrey, whom both of you know. Do you agree with him that the media has covered this unfairly?

Al: This has been a hatchet job. The press has made it look like a whole bunch of women and children were slaughtered while neglecting the fact that eleven Vietcong were also among the dead. They quote this eyewitness who accuses Kerrey of lining up civilians and mowing them down, and then it turns out the so-called witness wasn't even there.

Ed: The question is whether you believe Kerrey and four other members of his squad or the one guy making these allegations. I believe Kerrey. I only know, here's a guy who two weeks later loses his leg in battle. What the hell do you want from him? He's a hero. When the story broke, I called to let him know he has lots of friends here.

M.R.: Let's talk about another pal of yours, Michael Bloomberg, who according to the polls is getting trounced by his Democratic opponents. You two were billing him as this super-candidate.

Ed: He will be formidable, but the campaign hasn't started. Nobody knows his stands on anything. They don't even know him.

Al: Well, after he spends $35 million, people--you better believe they'll get to know him. But he'll still have a tough fight, because Democrats outnumber Republicans here five to one.

Ed: I think Green will win the primaries, but he won't get over 40 percent, which means there'll be a runoff. If that happens, the power structure of New York will move to support the second-place finisher, whoever that is. Anybody but Green.

M.R.: What bothers you so much about Green, Ed?

Ed: Well, he's made it very clear he's on the radical left. He was the campaign manager for Ramsey Clark, the most leftist of any Democratic candidate, and he can't escape Ralph Nader sitting on his shoulder.

M.R.: Should he be judged on things he did 25 years ago? After all, you were once a liberal Democrat, Ed.

Ed: I still am. I'm Mr. Liberal. I don't run from "liberals."

M.R.: They just run from you laughter. Are there any candidates running who can replicate Rudy's impact on the city?

Al: The best mayors have all had star quality. Ed Koch is a star. Giuliani is a star. None of these four can match their presence.

M.R.: Speaking of Rudy's presence, Ed here has been lavishing a lot of attention on his hair recently . . .

Ed: I've just noticed that he's suddenly grown a lot more of it! But it's curly. Not straight anymore. I noticed it right away. But everyone thought I was crazy when I pointed it out.

Al: Or jealous laughs. We haven't had hair for years.

Ed: But I was right! I saw Rudy yesterday, and he confirmed it. The drugs he's taking for his prostate are growing the hair on his head! He said now that he's stopped taking them, all his new hair is going to fall out. I told him to enjoy it while it lasts.


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