2001-10-06 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk by Howard Schwach

From the Editor’s Desk by Howard Schwach

The events of September 11 made the recent primary election much less compelling than it normally would have been.

There is nothing like a good four-way Democratic mayoral primary to get the juices going.

Add to the mayoral race two wing-dingers of city council races, and you would think that interest would be at an all-time high.

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the resultant loss of life that touched each and every New Yorker in some way focused the interest that would have been paid to the election towards memorial ceremony and funerals instead.

Yet voters turned out in near-record numbers to vote for their favorite candidates.

There are countless New Yorkers, however, whose favorite candidate was not on the ballot.

That candidate, of course, is Rudy Giuliani, who has been term-limited out of the job.

There are those who want Giuliani to stay on for three months, to continue his work in bringing the city back to speed after the attack.

There are others who want him to serve for four more years.

There are still others who want him to be mayor for life.

I am not one of them. I believe that Giuliani has done an exceptional job in representing the spirit of New York.

It is the height of egomania, however, to believe that you are the only person in the world who can get any job done.

The old saw that "nobody is indispensable" is largely true.

The voters of New York City voted twice for a law to impose term limits. They are not fools. There is a reason for their desire to term-limit politicians. I happen to agree with those reasons and I voted for term limits – twice.

To abrogate that law now would send a message that the terrorist have won, that they forced us to change our electoral system to play catch-up because of what they had done.

Never, even in the darkest days of American history, has an election been cancelled or postponed.

We held elections during the Civil War. We held elections during the Great Depression. We held elections during World War II.

The man who led the nation through the Great Depression and much of WW II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is considered to be one of our greatest presidents. When he died in 1945, with the war still raging, his vice president, Harry Truman was called to the White House. Truman was considered by many to be a political hack. There were some in Washington who wanted Congress to quickly pass a new succession law that would keep Truman from taking office. Despite that feeling, Truman took the reins of the nation and became one of our most beloved presidents.

The last person to talk about canceling an election because events created a "national emergency" was Richard Nixon – Tricky Dick.

Nixon had his experts working on a Constitutional Amendment that would have allowed the president – him, in this case – to suspend elections in time of national emergency. He believed that the Vietnam War, the protests over the war and the contentions over civil rights made for a national emergency that only he could address. He reportedly really believed that.

Don’t get me wrong. Giuliani is no Richard Nixon, although he probably could become Nixon if he were given the chance.

Giuliani and his people have done a great job, but it is time for democracy and Giuliani to move along and make way for the democratic process to work one more time.

Having said that, however, I think that Freddie Ferrer has blown his chances for election by teaming up with Al Sharpton at a time when Sharpton was saying that any bozo could have done what Giuliani did.

Since Mark Green is perceived by many as the reincarnation of David Dinkins, Ed Koch and Ruth Messinger, there is little chance that he would receive much of the "White" vote in a general election. His brand of politics was repudiated many times over the past several years.

Now, Ferrer has lost much of that vote. Even those who want Giuliani to leave on schedule are bothered by Sharpton’s description of him as Bozo The Clown.

Who does that leave?

I really believe that, no matter who wins the Democratic runoff, Mike Bloomberg will win and win big.

First of all, playing politics with a terrorist disaster is something that few voters will allow.

Guiliani has done that and so has Ferrer. Greene has no shot in the general election.

Secondly, the Republican Party is in the ascendancy, even in this city where Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters by a large margin. That credibility has been moved along by the recent work of Governor Pataki, Mayor Giuliani and even President Bush. Registered Democrats no longer think of voting for a Republican as voting for the enemy.

It should be an interesting month.


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