When Ed Koch backed George Bush
The urge toward hagiography when someone dies is understandable. Because the dead cannot speak for themselves, and because the end of a life is a tragedy, we often hesitate to criticize them for fear of being seen as stomping on their grave - if not forever, than at least immediately following their passing.
But, then, when it comes to public figures, the immediate aftermath of a death is precisely the time when history is cemented -- and too often selectively revised. Case in point is the former Democratic congressman and New York City mayor Ed Koch.
Since his death on Friday, the nation has been treated to a tidal wave of commentary memorializing the man with all the tired, lazy and meaningless cliches that are applied posthumously to almost anyone with any notoriety and establishment approval. These run the gamut from "colorful" to "candid" to "embodiment of the Big Apple" to "an American original," -- all descriptions seemingly designed to be at once complimentary and entirely devoid of any actual substance that might describe Koch's public record. Indeed, the hostility toward inconvenient truths about that record was so powerful that the largest paper in Koch's own city only added in a note about his famously hideous record on AIDS after a public outcry.