Bill de Blasio’s inauguration as New York mayor is already in the history books as perhaps the rudest transfer of power for a major U.S. political office anyone can remember. A parade of speakers trashed outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg and delivered doses of divisive racial rhetoric.
It was all too much for even the New York Times’ editorial board, which has swooned over all things de Blasio for months. In the Times’ editorial today it praised de Blasio for articulating an “ambitious, admirable agenda” at his inauguration. But it then laced into the speakers he allowed to share the podium with him for a series of “backward-looking speeches both graceless and smug.” It singled out Letitia James, the new public advocate, who “made a prop of a 12-year-old girl named Dasani, who had to hold the Bible and Ms. James’ hand as . . . Ms. James turned her into Exhibit A of an Inauguration Day prosecution: the People v. Mayor Bloomberg.”
The Times also zinged other speakers for “pointless and tacky haranguing,” especially radical activist Harry Belafonte for making the “utterly bogus claim” that New York’s prison population was growing and its justice system was “deeply Dickensian.”
The Times couldn’t conclude without expressing the hope that because “progressive values run deep in this city” that Mayor de Blasio will “give a voice to the voiceless (and) ease the suffering of the poor.” But it’s clearly worried that — from the evidence of his rabble-rousing inauguration — some of his more bizarre allies will get in the way of his ability to govern and make it more difficult to turn New York into a showcase for a “New Progressivism.”