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

Maer Roshan: As we speak – the morning after the mayor’s separation announcement – the inside line from City Hall is that he’ll be bailing out of the Senate race any day now. Would either of you wager that he’ll actually stay in?

Ed Koch: There’s no question in my mind that he’s bailing out. Long before his medical problems surfaced, I predicted that he wouldn’t stay in this race. If you look at his actions over the past few months, from suddenly canceling his trip upstate to brazenly carrying on with Miss Nathan, his general attitude indicates to me that he’s sorry he ever got in the race.

Al D’Amato: It’s still a jump ball at this point, but it doesn’t look good. I certainly wouldn’t bet that he’s going to run. Here’s a man who has come face-to-face with his own mortality, and now his marriage is in shreds. The pressure must be tremendous!

M.R.: Regardless of how you feel about him, I think you’d both admit Giuliani has always conducted his career with discipline and singleminded focus. So how has he ended up in the middle of such a tawdry soap opera?

E.K.: I think it all comes down to Rudy’s fatal character flaw: his ego. He’s a man so full of himself that he believes anything he does will be accepted by his subjects. You know, people don’t care if you have a private dalliance, as long as you’re discreet. But with Miss Nathan, it was almost like he wanted to be caught. Part of it, I think, does come from his health problems. I think he’s so traumatized that he’s lost his emotional balance.

A.D.: Given his illness, maybe Rudy has let his guard down.

Sometimes your emotions do get the best of you, and despite the howling of his worst critics, Ed, he is a human being and deserves some compassion.

M.R.: Do you think Donna Hanover was informed before the mayor publicly announced their separation?

E.K.: No! I don’t think the mayor knew he would do this beforehand. The whole thing was spurred by a reporter’s question. Instead of deflecting the question, as usual, Rudy decided to pour out his soul. But when you make a statement with injurious repercussions to someone who can hurt you back, the smart thing to do – and Rudy is very smart – is to first go to that person and warn them, so they won’t be surprised. In this case, there’s no question that Donna was surprised, and in self-defense she went out and did him in. Who could blame her?

A.D.: No one can blame her. I can’t speak to what Donna did or didn’t know. But I can tell you she was very sympathetic and sincere. But so was Rudy. This is a tragedy.

M.R.: The biggest bombshell in Donna’s press conference yesterday was her charge that Giuliani had an affair with Cristyne Lategano. What do you think compelled her to dredge that up?

E.K.: I’m not her shrink, though she’s certainly entitled to one at this point, but I think she simply had enough. Donna must have suffered enormously during his escapades with Cristyne. Just imagine her feelings, knowing her husband was with his mistress eighteen hours a day in the bowels of City Hall. She finally got the opportunity to lay the blame where it belongs. I think she’s one of the few people who’ll emerge unscathed from this whole sorry escapade. Even in her deep sorrow, she was measured and dignified.

M.R.: Is either of you troubled by the implication that the mayor used his power to land his alleged ex-mistress a $150,000-a-year job at the city’s convention bureau?

E.K.: Of course. No one really believes Cristyne was qualified for that job. The people on the board didn’t want to take her; they were compelled to take her. It may be a nominally independent board, but it depends on millions from the city to survive. Ultimately, that may be the mistake that haunts Rudy more than anything else.

A.D.: Not qualified!? Come on, Ed! This woman spent four years as communications director to one of the most powerful officials in this country. And Democrats, of all people, should be careful to not fall into the trap we did with Lewinsky.

M.R.: So who takes up the Republican banner now? Lazio?

A.D.: I think it’s his for the asking. He would be very, very formidable. Hillary should be worried.

E.K.: He is formidable, a likable guy with a good record. But Hillary will whip him too.

M.R.: What do you think is next for Rudy?

E.K.: I think he’ll do what he always intended to do, which is run for governor against George Pataki in 2002.

A.D.: Nonsense! No way, no time, no place would Giuliani ever take on the most popular politician in the state. Even if you think Rudy’s lost his emotional balance, Ed, he still hasn’t lost his mind.

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