On the day we learned of Ed Koch's death, we also learned that someone who has been making trouble in New York almost as long is thinking of running for Senate from New Jersey, where he now lives. We're speaking, of course, about Geraldo Rivera, the man who uncovered Al Capone's empty vault, who got his nose broken in a televised brawl with white supremacists on his daytime talk show, who drew American troop movements in the sand on-air during the Iraq invasion, who will be forever defined by the New York of the same era that produced Koch.
Promising to "ride my Harley to all parts of the Garden State," Geraldo may—just may—be playing this mostly for publicity. Call us crazy, but we have our suspicions. But if he were elected, he would double the number of United States senators sporting mustaches (recently elected Angus King of Maine brought the total from zero to one). An endorsement from the American Mustache Institute is all but assured. And amazingly, if you were picking the most ridiculous Fox News personality to inhabit a Senate seat, you'd have to run through about two dozen names before you got to Geraldo.
If he wins, he won't even be the most ridiculous person in that august body. But as a self-proclaimed "moderate Republican," Geraldo would belong to a faction that no longer exists.
So They Say
"I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time. And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me.”
—former Senator Scott Brown, stamping out rumors he'd run in the special election for John Kerry's seat
Daily Meme: Ya Did All Right
- Former mayor of New York and "recent television judge, radio talk-show host, author, law partner, newspaper columnist, movie reviewer, professor, commercial pitchman ... political gadfly", regular exerciser, "self-proclaimed ‘Liberal With Sanity,’ and self-obituarist Ed Koch died today at the age of 88.
- His constant refrain during his tenure was "How'm I doin'?" and now his many critics and watchers are now giving him his final marks.
- Kevin Roose reminds readers that it didn't used to be a requirement that New York mayors have crushes on Wall Street. Koch definitely didn't.
- Current mayor Michael Bloomberg said today, “When someone needed a good kick in the rear, he gave it to them—and if you remember, he enjoyed it."
- The memories aren't all movie reviews and clever quips. His failure to acknowledge the AIDS crisis in the '80s was a glaring failure of his term.
- But even when he was wrong or people disagreed with him, he made sure people could voice their dissent. Jonathan Soffer writes, "A first-rate soapbox orator himself, Koch didn't just tolerate dissent and non-violent street protests, he relished them—even when he was the target."
- Al Sharpton, one who butted heads with Hizzoner very often, said today he was "never a phony or a hypocrite. He would not patronize or deceive you. He said what he meant. … May he rest in peace."
- And politics aside, it's hard to examine Koch by his politics alone. As mayoral candidate Christine Quinn says, “Ed Koch was New York."
- "In what might be seen as a final sign of Koch’s flair for showmanship," or a sign of his "sense of timing—or maybe [his] Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. with the fates," the documentary on his life premieres today, and he also is Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire subject.
What We're Writing
- Matt Duss argues that Chuck Hagel's performance at yesterday's hearing was almost as bad as his questioners'.
- Clare Malone has maps, and whether or not Roe v. Wade is on the run, American women's access to abortion providers might be running out.
What We're Reading
- We don't know if anybody was expecting the Super Bowl to go full rainbow this year, but it looks like more NFL players are taking an Ahmadinejad stance on gays.
- America's most trusted newscaster points out that teaching the controversy might not actually be quite, you know, the same as reporting the news.
- Looks like religious institutions won't be covering contraception in their insurance after all (don't worry, Viagra is safe), and we'll all—that is, women—have to buy our own pills. That makes us—women, I mean—sluts, right?
- The U.S. Copyright Office, headed by a SOPA supporter and seconded by an old RIAA exec, is asking Justice to help college students pay more for more textbooks. Well, anything for more debt and richer rich people, we guess.
- In Texas, our nation's bastion of well-armed gun safety, an assistant district attorney was shot down in the street yesterday. It's like a joke, you know, except for all the dead people.
Poll of the Day
Public Policy Polling finds that despite early reports, as we go into the weekend, popular opinion among Americans across all political divides has swung in favor of the West Coast. With Democrats split 36/24, independents 29/21, and Republicans 34/28, the findings couldn't be more clear: America prefers the San Francisco '49ers.
Prospect intern Jon Coumes contributed to today's Ringside Seat.