Ed Koch: A liberal with sanity

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch died Friday morning at age 88. He described himself as Photo: Ed Koch

LOS ANGELES, February 1, 2013 — Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch died of congestive heart failure at 2:00 Friday morning at the age of 88. He went peacefully in his hospital bed. Yet if Ed Koch were alive today, he would not list the ailment as his cause of death. He would laugh and tell us that he died from being old.

Ed Koch was and will always be New York. His love for the greatest city in the world in the greatest nation on Earth was something he frequently expressed. He wore his American and New York pride on his sleeve.

Yet the one phrase that describes Hizzoner best is one he conferred on himself. Ed Koch was “a liberal with sanity.”

Ed Koch was ideologically liberal, but not an inflexible ideologue. Modern liberals would not recognize his style of governance because it involved disagreeing with political opponents without despising them. Koch often clashed with his fellow liberals because he was willing to make the hard choices that politicians of both parties today refuse to make.

When he took over in the 1970s, New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy. The fictional Gotham City of “Batman” lore was a replica of New York, a once proud city that was descending into chaos. Koch, always the character, did everything but don a bat suit to turn the city around.  What he wielded was a budget ax. He actually cut costs, an unthinkable act among liberals today. He faced the typical accusations of heartlessness, but he saved Gotham from bankruptcy by making the touch choices and facing the slings and arrows.

He was a liberal Jew who was outspoken in his support of Israel. Many liberal Jews become shrinking violets when liberalism and Judaism diverge. Koch only got louder, and prouder. His Manhattan tombstone quotes slain Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl. “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.” Koch died eleven years to the day Pearl was murdered by Islamists.

Koch was long retired when 9/11 occurred, but still carried political heft in his city. He remained a liberal Democrat to his dying day, but crossed party lines to actively support President George W. Bush in his 2004 reelection. He understood the fate of the world was at stake, and nothing else mattered if Radical Islamists blew it all up.

This was not the first or last time he would cross party lines. Despite clashing frequently with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he endorsed him for reelection in 1997. This was nothing more than a bond between two men who passionately loved the city and got the job done. Ruffling feathers took a back seat to results.

Mayor Koch did vote for President Obama in 2008, but issued a stern rebuke to him by supporting Republican Bob Turner in the New York congressional seat vacated by the disgraced Anthony Weiner. This was a message straight to the White House about its need to improve itself on Jewish issues. Mayor Koch supported Obama again in 2012, convinced that he had “gotten the message.”

Ed Koch was serious about governing, but a lighthearted and fun guy in how he dealt with people. He would walk around asking voters, “How am I doing?”

He famously quipped, “If you agree with me on eight out of twelve issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on twelve out of twelve, see a psychiatrist.”

He went on television in his later years and sang “Old man river.” In a slow, plodding voice, Koch sang, “He just keeps rolling along.”

In a column he wrote a couple of years ago, he told the world how happy and blessed he was to have led one of he greatest lives a person could ask to live. He embodied the American dream and deeply believed in the American and New York spirit.

Up in the sky, high above all of us, he is still overseeing Gotham City. Is it a bird? A plane? Batman? No. It is just Ed Koch, gone but forever a New Yorker.

He will be missed.


Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”

Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS. 

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Eric Golub

Eric Golub is a politically conservative Jewish blogger, author, public speaker, and comedian. His book trilogy is “Ideological Bigotry,” “Ideological Violence,” and  “Ideological Idiocy.” 

He is Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1990. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Judaism, and his MBA from USC. A stockbrokerage professional since 1994, he began blogging on March 11th, 2007, the three year anniversary of the Madrid bombings and the midpoint of 9/11. He has been inflicting his world view on his unfortunate readers since then. He blogs about politics Monday through Friday, and about football and other human interest items on weekends.



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