Bratton: A Good Man for Our City

Think about it: If you were considering a campaign to succeed Rudolph Giuliani, and you wished to run, like Mr. Giuliani, as a Republican, wouldn’t it behoove you to cultivate the Mayor and his voter base?

So it would seem. And yet former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, a savvy guy and a public official of great accomplishment, has chosen to get into a public squabble with his former boss. Mr. Bratton charged that the Mayor has polarized the city on racial grounds. That is the very charge made by the likes of Al Sharpton, whose choice of company (Louis Farrakhan comes to mind) and rhetoric (watch out, you white interlopers!) betrays his claims to credibility. Does Mr. Bratton agree with Mr. Sharpton? It’s hard to believe.

The former commissioner’s remarks suggest that he has something yet to learn about the world of electoral politics, particularly in this city. While he did a fantastic job during his short tenure as Police Commissioner, he is, after all, something of a political novice in a city that he can’t quite call his own, not yet anyway.

If Mr. Bratton wants to start a new career as an elected official, he should reconsider his choice of an entry-level position. Instead of running for Mayor as a newly minted Republican, Mr. Bratton ought to run for Public Advocate next year. The incumbent, Mark Green, will have to vacate the office because of term limits-Mr. Green will run for Mayor, along with a handful of other political veterans, on the Democratic line. As Public Advocate, Mr. Bratton not only would demonstrate his as-yet-untested electability, but he would get a firsthand look behind the curtains in City Hall. It’s a move that would make sense for Mr. Bratton and for the city.

There’s no doubt Mr. Bratton would be an attractive and effective Public Advocate. He would be a nonpartisan, nonideological monitor of City Hall’s performance, and he would get a chance to establish expertise on the wealth of issues not related to law enforcement.

Then, after four years, Mr. Bratton would have the knowledge, credibility and proven electability to mount a serious Mayoral campaign.

For now, though, Bill Bratton ought to remember that it was Rudolph Giuliani who brought him to New York from Boston.

The True Cost of Easy Divorce

Children whose parents stay together, even when the marriage is bad, are, for the most part, better off than children whose parents split. That’s the stunning conclusion of a study given cover treatment in a recent issue of Time . According to Dr. Judith Wallerstein, who has studied the effects of divorce over the last 25 years, children whose parents divorce are more likely to have difficulty forming relationships of their own, and even those who seem to have emotionally survived the breakup say they wouldn’t wish their childhood on their own children.

Since the 1970’s, conventional wisdom has had it that children are better off if a bad marriage ends. That reassurance no doubt has eased the guilt of many parents too lazy to do the hard work required of modern marriage. Persuaded that their kids were better off, fathers lingered around the water cooler to chat up female colleagues whose youth and charms offered an easy escape from the burdens of domestic life.

Dr. Wallerstein’s study suggests that self-indulgence has not come without collateral damage. Her findings ought to remind parents that there is no such thing as a friendly family breakup.

Remember the Titans!

The last time the New York Jets had four wins and no losses was … well, it’s never happened, not when they were known as the New York Titans, not when they were on their way to the Super Bowl, not once in the team’s 40-year history. The National Football League season is only a month old, but it doesn’t seem too optimistic to say that the Jets may brighten many a fall afternoon this year.

The team’s thrilling 21-17 victory over the highly regarded Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 24 showed that this team has the courage, spirit, talent and, yes, good fortune required of the N.F.L.’s elite teams. They didn’t play especially well for 58 minutes, and yet, in slightly more than 60 seconds, they went from nearly certain losers, trailing 17-6, to improbable victors. That’s the stuff championship dreams are made of.

Before, during and after the Bucs game, much was made of the drama involving former Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who now plays for Tampa Bay and has nothing good to say about some of his former teammates. What’s far more interesting, however, is the way the Jets have responded after a tumultuous winter. Legendary coach Bill Parcells quit at the end of last season, handing the job to his favorite assistant, Bill Belichick. In one of the most bizarre moments in the history of a team that has had its share of them, the news conference called to announce Mr. Belichick’s promotion ended with Mr. Belichick announcing his resignation. Mr. Parcells, now in the Jets’ front office, had to start his search over again, eventually hiring Al Groh. Then the team traded Mr. Johnson, an All-Pro receiver, over a contract dispute.

Usually nothing good can come of such turmoil. Yet the Jets have been able to put aside off-the-field antics and have kept their focus on what matters.

And what matters is that the Jets are 4 and 0, one of only three unbeaten teams in the N.F.L., and are in first place.

Jets fans know that nobody has ever gone broke betting against their team in its legendary battles with misfortune. Still, though, the leaves are beginning to turn, and the Jets are undefeated.

A small wager on hope would seem to be in order.