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I Support Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, 26 Dec 2007 02:00 PM

By Edward I Koch

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With the presidential primaries fast approaching, I believe it is appropriate for me to share my thoughts with you regarding some of the candidates.

I am a supporter and campaigner for Hillary Clinton for president. Of all the Democratic candidates, she, in my opinion, is the best of those running, and I intend to vote for her, as I did when she first ran for the U.S. Senate and again when she ran for re-election. She believes in moderation and espouses many of the best ideas for reform of our system which desperately needs reform.

Hillary has demonstrated an ability to succeed and get things done. I don’t agree with all of her positions, nor did my supporters agree with all of mine. You will recall I said to those whose vote I was soliciting, “Pick a dozen issues. If you agree with me on eight out of 12, vote for me. If you agree with me on all 12, see a psychiatrist.”

I agree with Hillary on more than eight out of 12 issues. I both like and trust her. Integrity is, for me and I believe for most of us, the most important of all candidate virtues. I believe she has integrity and has made it through the school of hard knocks with that integrity intact. I also believe that John McCain, who is, in my judgment, the best of all the Republican candidates, likewise has integrity and is a war hero to boot.

No Republican can win the presidential election — this will be a democratic year and sweep — but if one does, I hope it is McCain. I don’t agree with him on anything close to eight out of 12 issues. With him, I’m probably down to two or three. However, compared to his Republican rivals, he is a modern day Teddy Roosevelt. I wish him well and success in obtaining the Republican nomination.

Strictly on the issues, I agree most with John Edwards. However, while his populist rhetoric is enticing, his personality repels me.

I agree with Edwards that we are living in two Americas — one for the affluent and the other for the poor; and with him deplore that condition.

I truly believe that government should get out of the way as much as possible in economic endeavors and allow individuals to rise professionally and economically based on their individual ability and merit. But government does have a role. It must level the playing field and reduce the gross disparities that exist in our society.

Much of our individual success often depends on whom we know, not what we know. The most famous and successful populist was Gov. Huey Long of Louisiana, until he was assassinated. He partnered politically with both Father Charles Coughlin, a vicious anti-Semite and populist, and with Gerald L.K. Smith, who was the minister at Long’s funeral service. According to Wikipedia, Smith claimed that Long’s assassination was ordered by “the Roosevelt gang, supported by the New York Jew machine.”

A New York Times article of Dec. 23 reports, “Mr. Edwards is running perhaps the most populist campaign of any major candidate in a generation. He has called for universal health insurance, tighter trade restrictions, more financial aid for college students and higher taxes on the rich. In several cases, his main Democratic rivals have followed his lead,. The political system is now rigged to help the rich, Mr. Edwards says, which makes a journey like his, from modest beginnings to the middle class and far beyond it, much harder than it was.”

But historically, populism has often included blaming the Jews for the world’s problems, with its proponents engaging in anti-Semitism to increase their support.

Let me hasten to add that Edwards has, to my knowledge, never exhibited an iota of anti-Semitism. I have never met him, but people I know have and speak very well of him. I resent his having, despite his populist philosophy, the largest home imaginable — 28,000 square feet. I resent his $400 haircuts. I also know that every effort to have government manage the economy, with those in charge professing it was intended to bring economic justice to eliminate poverty, has ended in repression of political rights and a lowering of economic standing for all except those in government.

So, I support our free market economy — regulated capitalism — but believe that within our capitalist and democratic system, so much more can and should be done to help those in need, and reduce, and if possible, eliminate, the inequities and disparities.

In this regard, I applaud Harvard University’s recent announcement that middle class students, chosen on intellectual merits, would be given grants by Harvard. The Times reported on Dec. 19, “Harvard’s new financial aid policy is the boldest move yet to mitigate the soaring costs of a college education. Most previous efforts to make higher education affordable have focused, as they should, on helping low-income students. Now Harvard will also provide generous aid to students whose annual family incomes reach as high as $180,000. It is a welcome move, but also a disturbing admission that the priciest colleges are now beyond the reach of even many upper-middle-class families.”

Let me now, a week before the new year, wish all of my readers, listeners, friends and those not so friendly, the very best for 2008.

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