He still is. Meanwhile, how about the tiny sliver of the planet for which he’s actually responsible? On February 9, a winter storm walloped the city, including Staten Island residents still living without power, without heat, without light four months after so-called Superstorm Sandy hit them. If Bloomberg were still a nominal Republican, it might have made the papers. But he isn’t, so it didn’t, and somehow we accept that in a supposed First World city it would be unreasonable to expect the power to be restored within a third of a year. This is Big Government Big Apple–style: Come the big snowstorm, the municipal colossus who can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger is utterly incapable of regulating any of it onto Sixth Avenue. While Bloomberg enacts Coke barriers, other cities build flood barriers. London has one, the Dutch coast has one, and Hamburg, and even St. Petersburg in Russia. A five-mile storm-surge barrier across the mouth of New York’s harbor would cost about $10 billion. If you’re saying, “Whoa, that sounds expensive,” well, Bloomberg is one of a select few individuals who could afford to pay for it himself. He would have called it inevitably “the Bloomberg,” and his mayoral term would be remembered for an actual accomplishment. And, even if he’d spent public funds, it’s about a fifth of the cost of the Sandy Relief Bill, which is all the usual mumbo-jumbo — money for bureaucracy and paperwork.
But, if we’re honest with ourselves, in today’s sclerotic America, you can’t even imagine anyone building a New York flood barrier, can you? The can-do guys can’t do that, can they? Bloomberg is emblematic not only in his benign despotism but as an action hero unable to act. As the Daily Telegraph in London reported: “But with so many prescient warnings, city authorities are struggling to explain why so little was done. Mayor Bloomberg has said it was difficult to translate such warnings into concrete action.”