Maer Roshan: The news this week was dominated by two new books filled with salacious revelations about the mayor and his family. Is there something unfair about dredging all this up at what may be the end of Rudy’s political career?
Ed Koch: No. Someone writing a biography has a right to go back and examine your pedigree. What’s unfair are the attempts to tar Rudy with his father’s crimes.
Lucianne Goldberg: What I question is the timing of these revelations. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hillary’s people cooked this up as an election surprise. But so what? If Republicans discovered that one of Hillary’s relatives was a horse rustler, they’d run with it, too. But I wonder how these revelations would have affected Rudy if he had stayed in the race.
E.K.: I don’t think they’d have much effect. After a while, this steady drip of scandal becomes too much. Rudy has major problems – his medical condition, his marital situation. Nobody wants to add to his tribulations.
M.R.: Actually, Ed, one of those drips landed on you. Andrew Kirtzman contends in his book that in 1996, as you were arguing with Rudy over judgeships, Christyne Lategano tried to persuade the mayor to go public with an alleged affair you had with a staff assistant.
E.K.: As soon as that was reported, both Rudy and Lategano called me and swore it was not true. I listened to them and I believed them. Actually, they phoned at exactly the same time. I kept Lategano on hold. Laughs.
M.R.: Rudy wouldn’t be the first politician to make hay out of your sex life.
E.K.: No! Of course not. Every election I’ve ever been in, there were people who wanted to injure me. They never could.
L.G.: By now it’s gotten so boring. People say, “Ed Koch is gay!” It’s such a cliché.
E.K.: Well, I don’t discuss my private life, as I wouldn’t presume to discuss yours, Lucianne. But Wayne Barrett has rehashed this story several times. In 1993, he reported that Giuliani hired a guy to look into my sex life. Rudy swore it wasn’t true. Two years later, Barrett reported that the same guy had gone to trial, and Rudy had testified in his defense. So Rudy called again and said, “Okay, I admit this guy did work for me, and that he hired someone who for eleven days did investigate your personal life, but I never knew about it, and when I found out, I ended that immediately.”
M.R.: Lucy, I’m sure you were shocked to hear of politicians digging up their opponent’s sex life.
L.G.: Yes, shocked! Everything is fair game in my opinion. Let’s get real. People get into politics to win. I never met Lategano. But as we all know, she was 110 percent loyal to the mayor, and when she saw him being hurt, she was perfectly capable of this.
E.K.: The funny thing is, no one cares! People don’t care about politicians’ sex lives unless you’re a hypocrite or you force it on the public.
L.G.: When it comes to the president, I don’t think his affairs are private. There’s a lot at stake. For the years he’s in office, the president belongs to us. Mind you, when I started in the Kennedy White House, I was very naïve. We didn’t know the president was sending aides to F Street every night to bring back $10 hookers! The press didn’t write about it, and they should have!
E.K.: What JFK did was scandalous.
L.G.: Clinton was just as reckless. During the campaign, reporters would see him coming out with some woman in the morning and throwing her suitcases into his limousine.
M.R.: Many believe that his personal flaws ended up damaging not only Hillary but Gore as well.
E.K.: I don’t think Gore’s problems have anything to do with Clinton. Gore would make a great president, but he’s a lousy candidate. He comes across as boring nerd, whereas George Bush comes over as very human. I think Gore needs to throw his notes away and be himself. Instead, his aides are ordering him to wear earth tones.
L.G.: Please! Now he’s even taken Naomi Wolf back into his campaign. The girl with the see-through harem pants! Why in the world would he employ somebody who generates so much bad ink? His campaign’s just awful.
M.R.: You don’t seem terribly enamored of Lazio’s campaign either.
L.G.: Well, I don’t think Lazio’s made much of an impact – he hasn’t shown any cojones. He’s awfully cute, though. God, is he cute! Maybe he’s saving the heavy artillery for later.
M.R.: Maybe there is no heavy artillery. Maybe he’s just cute.
L.G.: Well, what fun it will be to have Hillary whipped by somebody who is just cute!