Shame on Ed Koch for his Hinchey comments

Years ago, then Mayor Ed Koch used to walk around asking, “How am I doing?” Lately he hasn’t been doing too well. He actually suggested that popular, respected, liberal mid-Hudson Congressman Maurice Hinchey had resigned because of God’s will. Published reports have the old mayor saying, “God eliminated him.” Presumably, the ancient Koch has an inside line to heaven and can interpret the will of God. I suppose Koch has to be excused because of his age and his overwhelming hubris. The man from Greenwich Village, who started out as a self-styled great liberal, came and went as mayor and quickly became a leading Republicrat, following Republican George Bush like Mary’s little lamb. When we invaded Iraq in one of the greatest political travesties ever perpetuated on the American people, Koch was right there with Bush. I actually debated him on the radio on his continued assertion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The man is incorrigible on that one which cost so many of our best youth their lives. I hope that God isn’t making an assessment on the old man’s longevity on the basis of that mistake.

None of this is to suggest that Mayor Ed isn’t sometimes blazingly right. Take his leadership of the movement to insist that New York practice basic democracy by stripping the majority leaders in both houses of the right to draw their own districts. He insisted that all the politicians sign a pledge and allow an expert outside group to draw the lines. Most of the Republicans signed that pledge thinking that they would stay in the minority. When it turned out that they edged into the majority by two votes, they changed their minds in one of the greatest instances of political hypocrisy of all times.

You know how they do it. They bow before the computer that draws the lines to their advantage and intone, “Oh great computer, draw us districts where we can’t lose!” Like Snow White’s evil step-mother and her magic mirror (“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”) the Republicans called on their computer to give them the answer (districts) that they wanted. Eventually, the mirror told the evil stepmother that she no longer had the designation as the most beautiful. Now the great legislative computers are telling the Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos that no matter how he moves the bodies, he just doesn’t have enough Republicans.

What’s more, we are about to have an election for President and Barack Obama will carry the Democratic state of New York in a surge of blue. That surge will probably carry the disgraced New York Democrats in the legislature back into office. The Republican conference is counting on Skelos to save their political hash. So in addition to objecting to Koch’s plan for getting an outside group to draw the lines, the Republicans went a step further, coming up with another way to save their majority. They decided to add another seat which gave them more material for the great computer to play with. To do that fairly, the Republicans should put that district in New York City where all the bodies are but they can’t because there are too many Democrats in New York. Frankly, their moves are disgusting. At the same time New York is losing two congressional seats, the Senate Republicans want to add a seat in the “upper” house.

I once asked Koch what he would do if the Republicans broke their word to him and retreated on their pledge to allow an outside group to draw the districts. He replied that he would travel the state yelling, “Liars, liars, pants on fire!” Instead, he makes the news by saying a wonderful retiring congressman who, unlike himself, has stuck to his principles was “eliminated” by God. Shame on you, Ed Koch. It’s time to apologize.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 1/23/12

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