The Mayor’s Phone Call

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Mayor Bloomberg, our Jill Gardiner reports, is seeking to lower expectations in advance of the telephone conversation he is scheduled to have today with Secretary Chertoff in respect of homeland security funding for New York. No doubt that will serve him well if the secretary manages to find a way to steer back to the city some of the $83 million that had been slashed from what is called risk-based counterterrorism funding.

The congressional delegation has been carrying on like Mr. Chertoff were an enemy or a fool. On one level, it’s hard to blame them. Getting more funding is part of every congressman’s job. The Department of Homeland Security isn’t making things any better for the administration with press releases such as the one explaining that the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge hadn’t been listed as “national icons” on a threat assessment inventory for New York because they’d been counted instead as “a tall office building” and “a bridge,” as if Roebling’s span were a run of the mill trestle and the Empire State Building, where in 1997 a Palestinian Arab gunman opened fire, killing one and wounding six, were just another high-rise.

But that $83 million over which this tug of war is being fought is not something that these columns find all that alarming. It is but a drop in New York City’s $55 billion budget bucket. Some of the same politicians who are so outraged at Washington’s supposed raw deal to New York opposed President Bush’s tax cuts on income and dividends and capital gains, tax cuts which provided a boost to New York’s economy that far exceeded $83 million.

As for counterterrorism, the same congressmen who spent last Wednesday squawking about the supposedly adverse security effects of the lost $83 million were silent when it came to the Bush administration’s decision, also announced last Wednesday, to offer to negotiate with the leading state sponsor of terrorism, the regime in Tehran. So while the Bush administration can be faulted for its approach to the homeland security grants, blunders abound, extending to all too many of those doing the complaining.

What must Mr. Bush himself make of all this? He reacts to an attack on this city by risking his entire presidency on fighting the most aggressive war against terror possible, taking the fight to the enemy’s ground overseas. What does he get from New York? The mayor mocks his nominee for chief justice. The city council passes a resolution against the war. One of its newspapers exposes his use of technical means to intercept enemy phone calls into the country. Senator Clinton votes against his nominee to improve the leadership of the Central Intelligence Agency. And the comptroller of the state, a self-described moron, praises Senator Schumer as a man who would “put a bullet between the president’s eyes, if he could get away with it.”

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