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Koch: Readers, allow me to introduce myself

Ed Koch in the office of his campaign

Ed Koch in the office of his campaign manager, David Garth, in September 1977. Photo Credit: AP

Former Mayor Ed Koch wrote a weekly column for New York Newsday from 1999-2000. This column first appeared in October 1999.

ALLOW ME to introduce myself. I was once a master of the universe and the CEO of the fourth wealthiest corporation in the United States-the City of New York.

After 12 years, the people booted me out in the 1989 Democratic primary in favor of David Dinkins.

Over the last 10 years, I have taken on the role of commentator. It's a job I take seriously. I know from experience how easy it is to say foolish things in jest or out of stupidity. I also know it's less painful to judge others than to be the victim of the judgment of others.

I recall in amusement, and hope that you do as well, my flip comments during a 1981 Playboy magazine interview. I said: "Have you ever lived in the suburbs? It's sterile." When questioned about time wasted in city subways, I responded: "As opposed to wasting time in a car? Or out in the country, wasting time in a pickup truck when you have to drive 20 miles to buy a gingham dress or a Sears Roebuck suit?" I have learned a lot since I made those silly statements. My beat now runs from Manhattan to Montauk, with occasional forays to Washington, D.C., not to mention overseas.

In this column I will tell it like it is. I believe in truth in packaging, so let me say that my two favorite Long Islanders are Judith Hope, the state chair of the New York State Democratic Committee, and Lew Yevoli, former assemblyman and Oyster Bay town supervisor.

I should also tell you that I prefer Bill Bradley to Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton to Rudy Giuliani. Furthermore, I would prefer to see the Democrats retain the White House and gain a majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

I am not a knee-jerk liberal, but rather a "liberal with sanity." I have crossed party lines at least a half a dozen times. The most well-known of the Republican candidates I have endorsed are: John Lindsay, Rudy Giuliani, Al D'Amato and George Pataki.

You should also know that, at his request, I sent a financial contribution to Sen. John Mc- Cain's campaign for the Republican nomination for president. If McCain and Bradley won the Republican and Democratic Party primaries, the country would be well served regardless of who won the general election.

For senator from New York, we appear to have two candidates with lots of baggage. However, a choice must be made, and that choice is easy for me.

Giuliani displays an arrogance and personality that does not befit a senator, let alone a servant of the people. In my judgment, Giuliani is not capable of learning from his mistakes because he rarely, if ever, admits them.

A recent statement in the Times by one of Giuliani's close advisers scares the hell out of me.

According to the Times, "The Mayor sidestepped a question this week asking him to define intellectual elite, but his supporters say he has a very clear idea of who is in it." As evidence, the Times went on to quote Myron Magnet, the editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal as saying: "It's the Museum directors, The New York Times, the folks who work for the big newsweeklies and the big networks, the guys who have the pulpits at the big mainstream Protestant churches, the folks who work at the Ford Foundation, the people who take it for granted that Giuliani is being a total philistine." Sure, the statement that "when I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun" attributed to Hermann Goering, is far worse, but the slope is slippery.

On the other hand, Hillary can be faulted for pushing the envelope too far and abusing the authority she gained as a result of her husband's elevation to the presidency. Nevertheless, I believe she has learned from the painful experiences that she has suffered.

My intent is to have us get to know one another better. If my voice in this column will on occasion be mistaken, it's because we are all fallible. I know that you will let me know how you feel with your letters.

If you agree with me on eight columns out of 12, I'll be more than satisfied. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12, see a psychiatrist.