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Jewish World Review Nov. 13, 2001 / 27 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Chris Matthews

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Consumer Reports

Garbage collecting is bipartisan -- THE great mayor Fiorello LaGuardia once said, "There is no Republican way to collect garbage."

The grandchildren of those New Yorkers who time and again elected the "Little Flower" have not forgotten his admonition. A city flooded by Democrats has once again chosen a Republican, Michael Bloomberg, to be its life raft.

The reasons have everything to do with what happened to this city two months ago. It switched the job description of New York mayor from "only Democrats need apply" to "opening for strong executive with business savvy, proven track record."

The next mayor has, as everyone in this country knows, a job to do. He needs to shake off the horror of Sept. 11 and get this city moving again. To get that job done, voters have picked a can-do American success story, Michael Bloomberg.

The fact that Bloomberg happens to be a Republican tells you something good about the overwhelmingly Democratic people of New York. They want a grown-up to run their city, and they don't care what partisan button he sported to get on the ballot -- or how much of his own money he spent to get his message across. They simply wanted someone who could get things done. They knew that Mike Bloomberg had built an empire in business communication from scratch. That history made him a good bet to rebuild the world's greatest city from the rubble.

The fact that Bloomberg is Jewish, supportive of abortion rights and gay rights, and a New Yorker tells you something about the post-Sept. 11 Republican Party.

Recall the pre-Sept. 11 standards. To be a prominent leader of the GOP you had be from the Bible Belt and sing from the southern Republican songbook of Dick Armey and Tom DeLay. Check out the leaders today: Rudolph Guiliani, New York Gov. George Pataki, former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security boss Tom Ridge, and, last but hardly least, Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg of New York City.

A president who made just one trip to New York prior to the World Trade Center disaster and passed over Tom Ridge for vice president because of his abortion position is now surrounded by northern pro-choicers. A guy who has never shown much interest in snagging tickets to "The Producers" is now Mr. Broadway. He's a man who wants to do all he can to help the same city-in-need that a former Republican president once told to "drop dead," according to the New York Daily News.

I write this column as an out-of-towner still enamored of this wondrous American metropolis. I recall all the thrill of my first visit for the Columbia University high-school newspaper editors convention. I remember catching "Hair" on my last day in the country before heading to Africa with the Peace Corps. And now I treasure every day I get to work there, especially this time of year.

While New York lost the World Series in seven, I am thrilled that they came back to win every game at Yankee Stadium. New York cheered those three victories with greater love than I have ever seen in a professional sport. The fans knew they were cheering themselves.

Winning at home is, after all, a huge part of this war.

And while we go about winning the early, vital battles here at home, we need to carry on the fight in Afghanistan. We need to bring New York justice to Osama bin Laden and his whole wretched gang. That, too, is a nonpartisan job, come to think of it.

Just remember what La Guardia said: "There's no Republican way to collect garbage."

JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of "Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think". and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Comment by clicking here.

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