Jennifer Senior: Let’s start by discussing the fear and sadness that haunt this city. How do New Yorkers return to their normal lives?
Al D’Amato: I don’t think we’re ever going to return to a so-called normal life. This is just one tiny thing, but I spent three hours yesterday getting back from Great Neck, because officials were stopping trucks. Life has changed already. And it’s going to continue, because we are at war.
Ed Koch: We’re going to have to acclimate ourselves as the people in Northern Ireland and England did when faced with terrorism from the IRA, and the Spanish did when faced with terrorism from the Basques . . .
Al: The Red Brigades in Italy . . .
Ed: The Israelis every day. I’m glad that Bush referred to this as a war. You have to punish the countries that support terrorists. The retaliation has to be enormous. Furious.
Al: What you need is a massive fist.
Ed: And I’m glad, frankly, that Bush is there on this issue, because I don’t think that Gore would have done it. It would have been a light tap.
Al: Absolutely. And it’s not going to be easy. You have Iran. Iraq. Syria. All of them, at this time, are funneling money into these terrorism networks. And already, you have Ramsey Clark leading this nonviolent movement –
Ed: What bullshit. The fact is, we didn’t respond when the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. We didn’t respond when the USS Cole was bombed. Not responding simply encourages terrorists.
Al: I hope we don’t make the same mistake we’ve made in the past. We let Saddam off the hook. Some idiot in Bush’s press department convinced him to stop because the media said, “It’s terrible what we’re doing to the Iraqis.”
Ed: What they said is, “This is a turkey shoot.” What’s wrong with a turkey shoot?
Al: We should have said to the Iraqi generals: “We won’t stop bombing until you produce him.” They would have assassinated him, probably.
Ed: Anyway. We are going to win this war. Let’s go to the election.
Al: Mayor Green. That’s who it’s gonna be. Only Ed Koch could change that. He’d have to sit down with Freddy Ferrer. I’m sure he called already.
Ed: Yes. I’m meeting with one of his emissaries.
Al: See? And Freddy would have to convince him that this would not be an us-against-them, black/Hispanic-against-white campaign.
Ed: I am very worried. Freddy owes his election to Al Sharpton, which means Sharpton will have the power to either appoint or veto commissioners, including the police commissioner. That’s very frightening. And my problem with Green is the same one I’ve had all along: He’s a radical.
J.S.: Think Giuliani will find a way to get on the ballot, since Ferrer turned down his proposal to extend his term?
Ed: Unfortunately, the public has twice affirmed the need for term limits. That said, I’m in favor of eliminating them, though it’s a treacherous slope. Then the Conservative Party can put Giuliani on the ballot. I still don’t think he’d get elected, but I’d vote for him.
Al: But he’s not gonna get on the ballot.
J.S.: So then what does he do?
Ed: Then it’s over. You can’t have a situation where the new mayor reports to Giuliani and Giuliani isn’t capable of reporting to anybody.
J.S.: Won’t the city miss him?
Ed: Look, the job of the mayor, whoever it is, is to rally the city, to be every place the mayor should be, and Giuliani has done that very well. But almost any other person in his position would have done that well, too. The reason he’s getting enormous credit is because his sensitivity is unexpected.
J.S.: Can he run for president?
Ed: I wouldn’t vote for him for anything other than a restricted position in New York. He’d be a danger to the country if he were president.
J.S.: And our current president? Has he grown over the past few weeks?
Al: He’s done exactly what he has to do, but the real test – when some of our allies begin to wither – has yet to come. The first time anything tough comes up, for example, the French will run.
Ed: But the Russians will be there. They have a mutuality of interest. So will the Turks. And the Saudis, if we threaten to end our commitment to protect them from Iraq.
Al: And bless Mother England. They’re there, shoulder-to-shoulder, thank God.
Ed: Yes. Thank God.