Thursday, July 09, 2009

Observing a Malaise

The Mike Bloomberg express, trying to spin the impression of its inevitability even further, is planning an ambitious third term agenda to avoid the kind of malaise that typically envelops these less than charming thirds. And the Observer's Jason Horowitz obliges the campaign nicely with a story that, well, is less than incisive and probing about the underlying assumptions of the campaign.

As the Observer tells us: "Dispensing with any elaborate pretense about being in a competitive re-election contest, Mr. Bloomberg’s handlers have begun to use the mayor’s public appearances to address what happens after 2009. Their political task: to figure out a way of avoiding the historic curse of the complacent, unfocused and regrettable third term."

Of course, what's left out here by the obliging reporting, is the underlying rationale for this kind of future gazing-it not only presents the re-election as inevitable, but it also helps to obfuscate the fact that the previous eight years are certainly not above reproach. And the lead vocalist of the Spinners is nothing if not also obliging: “But that’s not why the mayor is running for a third term. There is still unfinished business, and then there is more that the mayor wants to accomplish in the third that will be new and innovative."

Like continuing with his tax and regulate wrecking ball that he's taken to the local economy? Of course, he's big on new initiatives that sound great-after all, with the kind of money he has to spend he can claim title to being the King of the Three Color Glossy. Yet to claim that your initiative to diversify the economy will somehow create 8,000 jobs (while the city invests around three million dollars, nice deal, huh?)-and wean us off of Wall Street dependence, elides the fact that the mayor's own policies, as Wall Street dependent as you can get, are prime sources of the economic predicament that we find ourselves in.

In Horowitz's long "analysis" we don't here any mention of taxes and regulations. Now, why is that? Do we need to be experts in semiotics to evaluate the following? "Of course, given the state of the economy—to say nothing of the malaise—the mayor’s greatest challenge in a third term may simply be to see to it that the city doesn’t fall to pieces on his watch. But the mayor’s campaign says that they intend to defy that script."

By adding more government workers and increasing the property and sales tax? How has that worked out for the city's expiring middle class? The campaign response? Non sequitors drenched in lavish brochures: " Mr. Bloomberg will focus on pre-Kindergarten programs and post high-school community colleges and trade schools in an effort to expand city-funded education. He’ll mandate that some employers provide their employees with sick-day benefits, and try, again, to wean the five boroughs off of cars by expanding public transportation to areas mostly ignored by bus, train and ferry. He’ll propose aggressive measures, both in the city and Albany, to fight foreclosures and keep people in their homes."

And do all this, with what tax base? We need to have more seasoned and skeptical folks stepping up to the plate when confronted with all of the Bloomberg bombast. And, you know, for all this malaising that needs to be addressed after November, there is still a campaign to run. But Wolfson's smart enough to try to get our attention focused elsewhere. A focus on the campaign is inevitably a focus on the Bloomberg record-one whose accomplishments are more than offset by policies that don't merit any third term coronation.


We inadvertently attributed the article to our good buddy Kornacki but, as Jason Horowitz reminds us, he's the culprit-so we regret the confusion.