Ed Driscoll

What Ed and Sarah Palin Have in Common

No, not me, Ed Koch. In the New York Post, Kyle Smith describes Koch and Palin as “Dissin’ Cousins:”

As is true with Palin today, if you didn’t have a strong opinion about Edward Irving Koch, you weren’t awake. New York City’s mayor from 1978 to 1989 was a professional-grade irritant who exploited every kind of media at his disposal (if there had been reality TV and Twitter, he would have been all over them) and whipped up a fresh new wind of civic discombobulation every time he opened his mouth. By selling newspapers, he kept the journalistic breed fed and clothed. As a cub reporter circa 1993, I approached him to get his take on whatever the news of the day was — and he immediately started an argument. I distinctly remember the words, “You don’t listen very good, do you?” Possibly he waggled a finger in my face.

Koch has recently turned 86. Now is as good a time as any to reflect back on his life. Given the mighty vim with which he has lived it, let’s call it a halftime report.

As with Palin’s Middle America winkin’ and grinnin’ and fishin’ and huntin’, Koch didn’t just embody but embrace a regional stereotype — the abrasive sarcastic northeastern urban liberal Jewish crank. (“My answer to questions on this subject,” he said of his sexual preference in 1998, is ‘F – – – off.’ ” Now that’s what I call a New York answer.) One of his dozen books was called “Ed Koch on Everything.” Another was “I’m Not Done Yet!” For many years he wrote film reviews for New York City’s neighborhood papers, and today he posts his cinematic critiques on the Huffington Post — making him one of the few movie critics in the country to have acted on the silver screen himself. He was on “Saturday Night Live,” “Sex and the City” and “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”

Before a doomed Don Rickles campaign for governor of New York, he deemed upstate “sterile,” said suburbanites were “wasting your life” and that rural America was “a joke.” He called living in Albany “a fate worse than death.” There is a word for this kind of intemperate, uncivil political discourse, and that word is totally freaking awesome. I’m a New Yorker. I get three words in the same amount of time.

Koch and Palin both adore the kind of I-gotta-be-me shtick that ensured neither of them would advance very far beyond their homelands. Not only have they alienated moderates, they’ve made many of their own political soulmates wonder what’s up with them. They’re American originals — not phonies, triangulators, smoothies.

Meanwhile at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin writes “Let 1,000 flowers bloom — and a dozen presidental contenders” in the upcoming GOP primaries.