Ed Koch, Reluctantly for Obama

In 2004, former mayor Ed Koch committed an act of Democratic treason and endorsed George W. Bush in his re-election bid against John Kerry. In Koch’s estimation, Bush could be counted on to keep the country safe, and that pre-empted any concerns about their domestic policies.

In an email to his mailing list this afternoon, Koch indicated that he’s unlikely to make a similar move in 2012, despite deep reservations about President Obama’s foreign policy. For Koch, the fundamental issue is Republican Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

“Had the Republicans not sought to destroy essential protections for the middle class and poor of this country, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and tax fairness — they favor the top 2 percent of taxpayers — I would not at this point in time have decided to commit myself to support the reelection of Barack Obama,” he wrote.

That kind of thinking represents Republicans’ worst fear in 2012–that swing voters who might be put off by President Obama (and particularly seniors like the 86-year old Koch), will take Ryan’s plan not as a bold, courageous vision for deficit reduction, but as an unnecessary axe to a vital social service.

Koch, by his own admission, certainly had a litany of reasons to dislike Obama. He wrote:

After two and one-half years of President Obama, my doubts on his ability to manage American foreign affairs have grown. His hostility towards Israel, increasing our troop presence in Afghanistan, seeking to remain in Iraq, undertaking a new war in Libya, and his throwing longtime U.S. friend and ally, Hosni Mubarak, under the bus, have severely reduced my enthusiasm for a second Obama term.

In fact, Koch said he was upset with “overall attitude” of Democrats toward Israel, with only 46 percent of the party favoring Israel in a recent poll, compared to 70 percent of Republicans.

“But the Republicans have charted a radical course that I and numerous other Americans cannot support,” he wrote. “For that, they will be punished. They have embraced the three third rails of American politics – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Their proposals effectively destroying them through privatization or substantially reducing funding are anathema to the American public, and they will pay the price: defeat.”

Ed Koch, Reluctantly for Obama