Last we checked in with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch was right before election day, only a few months ago. Koch had just endorsed President Obama for a second term, having taken credit for “persuading” the President to adopt a friendlier posture toward Israel. But Israel, it turns out, was not the only issue that led Koch to throw his support behind the President. At the time, he told me:
“Israel is a major issue, but the other issues are major too, which are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, abortion. From my point of view you have to be good on domestic issues as well as on foreign issues to get my support. The president has my support because he’s good on both.”
Two months later, in the wake of President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, the Hizzoner has some buyer’s remorse.
“Frankly, I thought that there would come a time when he [Obama] would renege on what he conveyed on his support of Israel,” said Koch, adding, “it comes a little earlier than I thought it would.”
Really? So it turns out that the Hizzoner saw this coming all along. Koch went on, with some choice quotes:
“I believe it will encourage the Iranian program. I believe it will encourage the jihadists. They will say ‘ah, we are winning the battle. America is beginning to desert Israel.’”
Asked if he had an idea as to why the President selected Hagel, Koch said, “If I wanted to be Dr. Freud, I’d open up an office. I don’t know.”
“I’m sure that the Arabs are drinking orange juice and toasting Hagel’s good health.”
Koch’s disappointment seems to reflect a lot of the responses to Hagel’s nomination: bewilderment that borders on anger. While he is dismayed, Koch also expressed confidence that the strength of support for Israel in Congress will defeat whatever troubling measures could come from Hagel’s potential confirmation.
Whether any of that is true or not, one thing’s for sure: I think we might have just seen Ed Koch undergo the four stages of grief in the course of one interview.