NEW YORK | Ed Koch, som var borgmästare under tre perioder (1978-1989) i New York, avled i februari i år.
Chris Smith, tidskriften New York, skriver:
Egomania is a requirement in politics. Ed Koch turned the condition into an art form. He was far more interesting, and more complicated, than the common narcissist. His towering self-confidence was central to his triumphs and failures as mayor, because it enabled Koch to do what ever he thought necessary to save the city, whether that meant clowning for the cameras or betraying allies or berating political bullies. He was smart and funny and tough. But Koch’s real power was that he poured his selfishness into a wholly unselfish devotion to his city.
He started out as a reformer with conventionally leftish views: against the Vietnam War, in favor of civil rights. But Koch understood, and agreed with, the growing centrist Democratic revulsion against government bloat, drugs, and crime. He had no time for victimology. As the city careered toward chaos during Abe Beame’s term at City Hall, Koch saw his chance: Dubbing himself “a liberal with sanity,” he ran for mayor in 1977 and beat Mario Cuomo, on the strength of his personality and by appealing to the white outer-borough ethnic voters who were angry and scared. Koch had core beliefs and principles, but the ’77 campaign also established a template: To win, the former reformer was willing to embrace both corrupt Brooklyn political boss Meade Esposito and beauty queen Bess Myerson, the latter in the service of a fake romance concocted by his campaign wizard, David Garth.
Eventually, though, his confidence metastasized into arrogance, with tragic costs: Koch’s nasty reaction to criticism from AIDS activists weakened the city’s response to the fatal epidemic. And his long-running hostility toward black leaders, coupled with the murder of teenager Yusuf Hawkins, helped Koch lose the 1989 election.
The scars of seventies New York are invoked every campaign season, with each candidate promising he or she won’t let us slide back to those bad old days. The crucially effective parts of Koch’s tough-love response to New York’s troubles, particularly his never-back-down-to-criticism attitude, became, for better and worse, fundamental pages in the playbooks of Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg. Koch rescued the city in his first term and nearly split it in his third. He will forever be an object lesson in the cold-blooded calculations necessary to thrive in New York politics, and of the joys and dangers of personality-driven politics.
Koch var också en förnyare av politiska valkampanjer.
På 1970-talet kunde kampanjstaberna inte använda egna datorer för att analysera resultaten från opinionsundersökningar och reklamkampanjer. Man fick istället gå via datorena på olika universitet.
För att råda bot på detta köpte och monterade Mark Penn, som anlitats av Kochs politiska konsult David Garth, en egen dator för att kunde få feedback redan dagen efter en undersökning.
Penn skulle senare komma att arbeta för både Bill Clinton och Hillary Clintons presidentvalskampanj.
Läs mer: Evan Cornog, en av Kochs pressekreterare skrev artikeln “Ed Koch sweated the details” för Newsday.
”Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch dead at age 88” av Larry Celona (New York Post).