‘Go after the virility argument,’ and other stories about Ed Koch

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At Ed Koch's funeral today, Michael Bloomberg said the former mayor must be "loving all this attention."

Bloomberg appeared to choke up somewhat when discussing the epitaph on Koch's headstone, which quotes murdered journalist Daniel Pearl's last words under duress: "My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish."

Bloomberg, his voice quivering a little, said, "Has there ever been a simpler, more eloquent statement of pride in one's faith and in one's people than those 11 words?"

Bill Clinton, as he spoke, held up a handful of white sheets of paper, telling the thousands of people in Temple Emanu-El, "These are the letters, just the letters I got from Ed Koch when I was president."

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One of the letters was about curbing smoking among young people.

Clinton recalled Koch telling him about a new study connecting cigarette use to virility.

"He said, 'This Viagara is a big deal.' This letter is hilarious. He said, 'Now, politicians don't like to talk about this, especially among young people,'" and "'It doesn't work to tell people they're going to get cancer or respiratory disease. Go after the virility argument.'"

Clinton went on to describe Koch giving him advice on national politics, in a series of letters and columns.

"He sent me all his columns," Clinton said.

Koch told the Times in an interview before he died that he never truly forgave Cuomo for signs that said "Vote for Cuomo not the Homo" that reportedly appeared in parts of Queens during the last weeks of the 1977 mayoral contest between Cuomo and Koch.

New York Post state editor Fred Dicker, who is working on a biography of Mario's son, said on his radio show that he never saw any of those posters, and categorized their existence as an urban legend. 

Wayne Barrett, a longtime investigative reporter who co-wrote City for Sale, a book about the public corruption during Koch's third term, said on New York 1 News, "I never met anyone who actually saw these posters" and "I don't know that it even happened."

Both Mario and Andrew Cuomo attended the funeral today, but they were not among the speakers.

The speakers, and just about every aspect of Koch's funeral, were detailed beforehand in a hand-written note, by Koch.