Politics & Policy

Bill de Blasio for President?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
With 0 percent support, he has nowhere to go but up.

New York is a town that enjoys a good quarrel, but it’s all but impossible to find someone to argue, “I love Bill de Blasio.” Rarely do you meet anyone who can even tolerate Bill de Blasio. If you must have an argument about Bill de Blasio, you need to ask a crowd, “Why do you hate Bill de Blasio?” To this, everyone has something to say.

At 6-foot-6, de Blasio may be the world’s largest twerp, unmistakably large but barely in charge. New Yorkers, for a change, line up with the rest of America on this. As de Blasio reportedly readies a hilariously futile run for president, he sits at 0 percent in Iowa. He’s at 0 percent in New Hampshire. A Quinnipiac poll taken in March showed that, among New Yorkers, he is the least popular presidential candidate in the immense field. In that survey, the former Warren Wilhelm Jr. scored a favorability/unfavorability rating of 24/49, the lowest of any Democrat in New York, that approval rating being lower than Donald Trump’s, which is 28. A different New Hampshire poll that asked voters to plump for anyone they liked for president elicited mentions of Barack Obama, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Howard Schultz, and even, on a handful of occasions, Kirsten Gillibrand, but 0 percent mentioned De Blasio. In a New Hampshire appearance, de Blasio recently found himself in a panel discussion comprising 14 people that drew only six spectators. Rule of thumb for political superstars: You aren’t one if, at age 57, the crowd on your stage dwarfs the crowd in the audience.

Like an insecure college student trying on various personalities in an effort to capture the attention of the cutest girl in Postcolonial Gender Politics — now a preppy tennis player, now a tortured Goth guitarist, now an angry male feminist — de Blasio keeps trying to repackage himself, unable to perceive that it is the contents that people don’t like. His original incarnation, as the scourge of police brutality, expired one year and three days into his first term, when thousands of police officers literally turned their backs to him at a cop funeral and pinched his purse by taking a holiday from writing parking tickets. A chastened de Blasio ceased his normal practice of badmouthing the cops and instead began bragging about NYPD’s crime statistics.

Next! De Blasio moved on to positioning himself as the leader of the anti-Trump resistance — “NYC MAYOR TEACHES DEMOCRATS HOW TO FIGHT TRUMP,” alleged The Daily Kos — before he declared earlier this year, “We’re not going to win by talking about Donald Trump.” Oh. Never mind everything he said in the two years following Trump’s election, then.

Earlier this year BdB redoubled efforts to come across as Mayor Marx, although with so little impact he seemed to take inspiration equally from Karl and Zeppo. A Manhattan Institute analysis found that after four years under de Blasio, income inequality stood at the same level as it had after 12 years under the heartless billionaire Mike Bloomberg. De Blasio’s eat-the-rich rhetoric is taken seriously by few: “There’s plenty of money in the world. . . . It’s just in the wrong hands,” he proclaimed in January, but the New York Times added drily, he “has thus far been unsuccessful in his many attempts to raise taxes on high earners.”

This spring de Blasio is recasting himself as the Green Giant. Never mind that New York City has added 5,000 official vehicles to its rolls since he took office, or that the mayor famously takes an SUV daily from his Upper East Side home all the way out to his former neighborhood in Park Slope, Brooklyn, just because he doesn’t want to find a new gym near Gracie Mansion. De Blasio has decided to attack global warming at the municipal level, in a city with a famously minuscule per-capita carbon footprint. Sounding like a guy from Montana who hates trees, de Blasio has declared war on skyscrapers.

Glass-and-steel skyscrapers “have no place in our city or our Earth anymore,” the mayor declared in April, and not even on April Fool’s Day. (Correction, it was Earth Day, so same thing.) The city’s newest eye-catcher, the $20 billion Hudson Yards neighborhood, built atop a rail yard near the Lincoln Tunnel, had just opened, and de Blasio gave it his usual dog-meets-fire-hydrant treatment, calling it “the wrong way to do things.” He is preparing to sign a New York version of the Green New Deal demanding absurd amounts of eco-retrofitting in skyscrapers. It is in effect a huge new tax that will push up the costs of doing business in the 50,000 largest buildings in New York City, even brand-new, environmentally cutting-edge structures such as the Bank of America tower at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, which is so green that Al Gore took office space there.

Because progressives must politicize everything, even the third-grade cafeteria, de Blasio has decreed that public schools must observe “meatless Mondays” starting next year. It’s kinda like those meatless Fridays the Catholic Church used to recommend, except the established religion of New York City is now the Church of Chicken Little. Look for extra-long lines at every McDonald’s that’s near a city high school every mid-afternoon.

De Blasio is not just a snoozy, groundhog-murdering buffoon who causes the city embarrassment on a par with the New York Knicks or JFK Airport. He’s also a skeezy money grubber who borrows tricks from his former boss Hillary Clinton (for whom he served as campaign manager in 2000). He has a tendency to set up noble-sounding activist groups that by miraculous coincidence attract dollars from entities wishing to grease the wheels with City Hall. As the Times notes in an editorial, a Boston-based construction firm, Suffolk Construction, that is “clearly hoping to expand its business in New York” held a fundraiser for de Blasio’s Fairness PAC. This kind of thing has been happening since de Blasio’s first mayoral run in 2013. Among several examples: A donor to that initial campaign pleaded guilty to writing a check to the campaign in order to get a deal on a restaurant lease in Queens. De Blasio was perhaps saved from an indictment for corruption by a Republican — former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, whose case caused the Supreme Court to make things easier for politicians accused of taking payoffs.

What’s most salient about de Blasio is the sheer scale of his incompetence: Without even an “Oops,” he just shuttered his disastrous “Renewal” program, which torched three-quarters of a billion dollars on failed educators who were happy to cash the checks and delivered approximately zero results. De Blasio’s New York City Housing Authority — the outfit that runs all those charming housing projects — is so unspeakable (mold, rats, lead paint, unsafe elevators, leaky pipes, etc.) that the city was forced to accept oversight from a monitor appointed by Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s right: The mayor bungled one of his central duties so badly that it’s now under the control of the administration of . . . Donald J. Trump. Whatever will the campaign slogan be? How about: “De Blasio 2020: As Corrupt as Hillary but Less Competent Than Trump.”

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