A special election to fill the vacated House seat of Anthony (‘All-in’) Weiner is expected to provide yet another snapshot of parochial selfishness in Wonderfully Liberal New York. David Weprin [above, left] was tapped for the thankless chore of running by the local Democratic machine because nobody more ambitious wanted to bother with a district that is slated to disappear in the next reapportionment. He was expected to dutifully show up and vote with the Democratic minority in a legislative chamber reduced to meaninglessness by the extortionists of the Tea Party.
But then former mayor and perennial asshole Ed Koch showed up to endorse his Republican opponent and Tea Party favorite, Bob Turner [right], for the completely bizarre reason that Obama needed a good mid-term slap for being so tough on Israel. Huh? I guess not authorizing Tel Aviv to launch drone missiles at Iran means you’re unreliable as a Zion-booster.
Weprin, as an orthodox Jew representing a state assembly district full of bloc-voting Hasidim, could hardly be taken as weak on the topic of Israel. But Koch said the heavily Democratic Brooklyn-Queens district should ‘send a message’ on Israel to Obama by electing a Republican.
But there’s another side to this race: Weprin is also vulnerable because he supported same-sex marriage in the recent vote in Albany, and that’s an issue that gets a lot of sidelocks on fire. It’s ironic that Koch, a lifelong bachelor who suffered from anti-gay innuendo during his political career, should help gang up on one of the guys who made this courageous vote. Same-sex marriage probably moved another orthodox Jewish Brooklyn Assemblyman, Dov Hikind, to endorse Weprin’s Roman Catholic opponent.
Koch is retired and didn’t have to wait to be dead to get his name on a bridge (the former Queensboro). So it’s hard to parse out what exactly motivated him to get involved in this peculiar way. Maybe he just misses being a player. But Koch has had a troubled relationship with gay issues—in the recent PBS documentary on the origins of gay emancipation, he makes a rather shocking admission that he backed the notorious raids on the Stonewall Inn because the street kids and riffraff that patronized it were annoying the neighbors. Who knows, maybe he resents the way things have evolved and how young people can live.
The latest poll has the Teabagger up by six points, pretty amazing in a heavily Dem district. In any case the national buzz we’ll hear if the Dems lose this by-election won’t have much to do with gay marriage or Israel, however. It will be interpreted as yet another repudiation of the Obama team’s management of the economy and its political irrelevancy. Meanwhile, Koch will have helped put an end to the career of an orthodox Jew who dared to buck his peers’ oppressive posture on sex.