February 1, 2013

Edward Koch has died.

He was 88.
With his trademark — 'How’m I doin?' — Mr. Koch stood at subway entrances on countless mornings wringing the hands and votes of constituents, who elected him 21 times in 26 years, with only three defeats....
I lived in Koch's legislative district in the early 1970s — before he became mayor — and I remember going to work, needing to get down into the subway, and he'd be there at the top of the stairs wanting to shake hands. Want to ride the subway? You'll have to get past Ed Koch. It seemed so small-time, such a corny, unlikely way to get somewhere in politics.

The 3 defeats were: "a forgettable 1962 State Assembly race; a memorable 1982 primary in a race for governor won by Mario M. Cuomo; and a last Koch hurrah, a Democratic primary in 1989 won by David N. Dinkins, who would be his one-term successor."
Black leaders were... unhappy with Mr. Koch’s decision to purge antipoverty programs and comments he made that they considered insensitive. He said, for example, that busing and racial quotas had done more to divide the races than to achieve integration, and that Jews would be “crazy” to vote for the Rev. Jesse Jackson in his 1988 presidential campaign after Mr. Jackson’s 1984 reference to New York as “Hymietown” and his call for a Palestinian homeland in Israel....

[I]n August 1989, a black youth, Yusuf K. Hawkins, 16, who went to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to see a used car, was attacked by a group of white youths and shot dead.

Mr. Dinkins, pledging to bring the city together again in a “gorgeous mosaic,” narrowly defeated Mr. Koch in the primary and went on to beat Mr. Giuliani, who ran on the Republican and Liberal lines, by a slender margin in the general election.

“I was defeated because of longevity, not because Yusuf Hawkins was murdered six weeks before the election, although that was a factor,” Mr. Koch wrote.... “People get tired of you. So they decided to throw me out. And so help me God, as the numbers were coming in, I said to myself, ‘I’m free at last.’ ”

40 comments:

kentuckyliz said...

Free at last? If he didn't want the job, he shouldn't have run for re-election.

Maybe the voters sensed it.

The voters got it right.

The Drill SGT said...

A Mensch

CEO-MMP said...

Too bad, but he was failing. It comes to us all one way or another.

He was a pretty good guy, for a democrat politician in NYC.

Especially as he got older and had less to worry about.

Best wishes for the next phase of your existence, Mr. Koch.

Carol said...

But Koch caused AIDS, before Reagan even, because he was a closeted gay or something.

Bob R said...

Considering that NYC mayors are elected by a bunch of New Yorkers they were lucky to get someone as good as Koch. They've done worse, much worse.

Shouting Thomas said...

It seemed so small-time, such a corny, unlikely way to get somewhere in politics.

Back when I was involved in politics, many moons ago, I observed that it was precisely those "corny, unlikely" tactics that prevailed for people who didn't have a big family fortune to spend.

Showing up all the time is half the battle. Showing up at meetings, benefits, religious gatherings, yard sales, pancake breakfasts... anything. If you're willing to get out of bed early on Saturday and Sunday morning, speak to everybody and shake every hand, eventually things will open up for you.

Koch was always entertaining. His role was very much to speak sense from the standpoint of Jews and ethnics in the boroughs to the eggheads in Manhattan. This division between the sane ethnics in the boroughs and the egghead morons in Manhattan continues to this day.

rehajm said...

"How'm I doin?" The political mileage from the question was always more important than the answer, but the notion the answer mattered to him seems quaint seen from the age of Obama.

Bob R said...

I'm shocked. "How'm I doin'? Dead" yields very few hits so far. New Yorkers must be sleeping in.

rehajm said...

It seemed so small-time, such a corny, unlikely way to get somewhere in politics.

Martha Coakley has something to explain to you.

Quayle said...

Really, not a bad mayor, or person.

We could use more Ed Kochs and fewer "What-diffierence-does-it-make" Hillarys.

Quayle said...

And I'm sorry Inga isn't here to walk us through the new jobs numbers.

Unemployment ticked back up to 7.9%

I know; I know - what difference does it make?

Tank said...

In retrospect, all the NY Mayors love Dinkens because he made the rest of them look, not good, but great, by comparison.

Koch was ok, but, truly, he was one of those people who had a viewpoint and had no respect for any other viewpoint. He was not open to any response to "how'm I doin" but a positive one.

bpm4532 said...

Though he never spoke much of it. Ed Koch was a member of the 104th Infantry Division in WW2. That division faced heavy fighting for over 200 days from september 1944 through May 1945 (a span of 250 days). He was a sargeant.

SGT Ted said...

One only has to compare him to the idiot Dinkins to see what a successful mayor he was. As well as a good person.

MadisonMan said...

KyLiz got it correct right off the bat. Voters know when there is no fire in the belly (Paging Fred Thompson! Hello Tom Barrett!!) and they react accordingly.

wyo sis said...

Tank
The fact that he asked is telling in this world of Obama strength egos.

PETER V. BELLA said...

We need more politicians like Ed Koch and way fewer gasbags with their intellectual weasel words.

Shouting Thomas said...

In retrospect, all the NY Mayors love Dinkens because he made the rest of them look, not good, but great, by comparison.

Well, except for Rudi Giuliani, who is revered by sane people (and hated by the egghead morons) for ending the black crime wave of the crack era.

The issue of how to stop violent black crimals is the pivotal and dividing issue in NYC politics, dividing the boroughs against Manhattan. In the boroughs, people have to live with that violent crime right in their faces. In Manhattan, they live in doorman buildings.

This divides even the Jewish community in NY, because the conservative and religious Jews live in the boroughs, and the egghead leftist Jews in Manhattan.

Rudi ended the violent black crime wave of the crack era, of course, by instituting stop and frisk and throwing all the neer-do-wells in jail. It worked!

Michael said...

Rest in peace Mayor.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm shocked. "How'm I doin'? Dead" yields very few hits so far. New Yorkers must be sleeping in."

I think everyone saw that joke and had the decency to refrain from making it. You, on the other hand, made the joke and then congratulated yourself for beating other people to it.

Titus said...

He was about as New York City as you can get.

RIP Mary.

CEO-MMP said...

Hey Professor:

Nowhere in Bob R's post was there any hint of him being self congratulatory.

And a post above he said how NYers were lucky to get someone as good as Koch.

So take your fauxtrage and stick it back in the drawer.

DrMaturin said...

When I lived in Milwaukee I used to run into William Proxmire regularly, at supermarkets and similar locations. He campaigned that way all the time. Once I ran into him the Friday after he was re-elected. He was already campaigning for the next election. The man never ran a TV or radio ad, he just shook hands, all the time. It works.

LarsPorsena said...

One of the last members of the sensible-center in the D party.

Mitchell the Bat said...

"Protestant work ethic? I thought that was Jewish."

For that quip, alone, they should name something after him.

Maybe a deli sandwich.

Ann Althouse said...

"Nowhere in Bob R's post was there any hint of him being self congratulatory."

He was saying, essentially: I got there first. (Others must be sleeping. My point is: They're not slow on the uptake.)

Strelnikov said...

End of an era. A good era.

Bob R said...

I think Althouse is outraged about the obviousness of the joke more than its supposed indecency. I wasn't proud of the joke, just genuinely surprised that there was so little black humor of that form showing up at 7:44am. Black humor, NYC, and Ed Koch go well together in my mind.

Of course, it is indecent to make jokes in the presence of people who are genuinely experiencing grief. I didn't think a blog describing the dead's actions as "small-time" and "corny" was such a place.

ricpic said...

The problem with "How'm I doin'?" was there was only one correct response, "Great!" When in fact Koch never addressed the "vibrant" crime that was killing New York. Giuliani did that, which is why to this day Giuliani is a meany while Koch is beloved.

CEO-MMP said...

Ann, you're wrong.

What I'm saying there, essentially, is that you're not correct.

If I'm unclear I apologize.

traditionalguy said...

I loved that man. He restored my faith in the goodness of men just by being one.

Scott said...

Ed Koch was the last of a dying breed: The non-Marcusian Democrat. As such, he earned a level of respectability that is rare for anyone of his party. I'll miss him.

joe said...

I'm waiting for Althaus to personalize her knowing the mayor.

Such as; When I was a younger belle, toiling in the food industry as a waitperson, Koch came in always bellowing, "How ya doin?" Althaus gave Koch the eponym, "Teddy Bear Eddie", after serving him Wellshire dry-rub center-cut bacon.
Oh, wait that was Teddy "Bear" White and Mao ZeDong in search of the history of bacon

Then she moved to Madison, to be a North country girl where the wind hits heavy on the borderline.

edutcher said...

I could disagree with Strelnikov on whether it was a good era (I'm more of a Rudy guy), but Koch was the last of the old Democrat Liberals - and he hated Barry Ozero, which speaks well of him.

Quayle said...

And I'm sorry Inga isn't here to walk us through the new jobs numbers.

Unemployment ticked back up to 7.9%


Don't worry, the She-Wolf of the SS is prepping all the excuses even as we speak.

BTW, real unemployment is 23.7. Toss that in with negative growth, crashing consumer confidence, and the news ObamaTax is going to bankrupt

Mitch H. said...

I'm not a newyorker, my image of Koch is largely drawn from the "Mutt on Fire" opening to the Bonfire of the Vanities. It was obviously an Ed Koch pastiche, but the character was so tight, panicked, naked - distinct from the avuncular, elfin image Koch got in the national press at the time. It sometimes felt like New York City and the rest of the country saw two different Kochs. The press loved him, in pretty much the same way they loved Iaccoca, I think.

It's kind of odd that a former Village politician ended up becoming the representative of the the outer boroughs, isn't it?

whoresoftheinternet said...

Koch was an example of a good faggot (assuming the rumors about him were true).

Never flaunted his sexuality. Kept it under wraps. Never tried to pretend it was normal.

He got in trouble for daring to call spades, spades, however.

whoresoftheinternet said...

Koch's best moment was in The Muppets Take Manhattan---

Fozzie: "Hey, Mr. Mayor, we're looking for a green frog who can sing and dance!"

Koch: "If he can also balance the budget, I'll hire him!"

furious_a said...

The quotable Ed Koch:

"The people have spoken, and the people must be punished."

"If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist"

"You punch me, I punch back. I do not believe it's good for one's self-respect to be a punching bag,"

"Walk over the bridge! Walk over the bridge! We’re not going to let these bastards bring us to our knees!”...rallying commuters at the Brooklyn Bridge during a transit strike.

RIP...

William said...

The Mayor was asked to pose with a tiger for a photo. The Mayor declined. The Mayor said "The Mayor of NYC is not a schmuck." There was much to love about Koch.... I think that in his final term he was imitating himself and applying schtick instead of competence to the city's problems. But give him credit. He was a forceful, engaging personality who, for a time, inspired hope that the city's problems were solvable.... This is not such a dramatic accomplishment, but he did manage to get the graffiti off the subway cars. If you rode the subways, it was a comfort to find yourself in a clean car. When you rode in a tagged car, the subliminal sense was that the lawless had marked their territority and you were the interloper. Koch changed that. It was the beginning of hope.

CatherineM said...

People who think Koch was a bad mayor didn't live through the Lindsey or Dinkins years. He wasn't perfect, but in a city that's hard to manage he did well.

On shows like Mad Men they like to portray NY in the late 60s as still a happening place that people in the suburbs dreamed about. The truth is, everyone middle class ran away. It was a crime filled dump.