Ed Koch & the Spirit of the Times

Ed Koch & the Spirit of the Times

It’s not a bad idea to remember that there are New Yorkers politically to the right of Ed Koch, a fact often obscured by the mayor’s own penchant for flailing his erstwhile liberal allies. Watching him savage Bella Abzug, you could forget that he really isn’t the Lester Maddox that Jody Powell thought he was. Koch is more complex than that, in ways we’d do well to understand.

Watch him, for example, fielding questions at a community meeting of politically conservative Orthodox Jews who oppose his affirmative-action policies, his support for gay rights, and, sotto voce, his stinginess with patronage. A man is complaining about new hiring standards designed to increase female and Hispanic representation in police ranks. “Mr. Koch, why do you lower height requirements just to include these people? We need policemen who are big and tall and command respect….”

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