Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mike's Pique

In yesterday's NY Times, the indefatigable Diane Cardwell took a long hard look at Mayor Mike's suddenly in evidence temper. The money quote: "Mr. Bloomberg is often a man of quaint politeness in public. But in recent days, as he has endured setbacks on projects crucial to his legacy, another Michael Bloomberg has spilled into view: short-tempered, scolding, even petulant."

What we're finally seeing here, is the real Mike Bloomberg, a short tempered egotist, finally emerging from the news cocoon that has blanketed the first six and a half years of his pedestrian term. If there was ever someone who appeared good, rather than was good, it is the diminutive mayor. Certainly it hasn't been City Hall that has put out, "The Spin Stops Here" door mat.

Bloomberg's arrogance has met the immovable force-political realities that he has been ill-equipped to deal with; from both a personality as well as a skill set perspective. As the Times puts it: "The mayor has watched the collapse of his congestion pricing proposal and the blocking of his plan to link teacher tenure to student test scores. He is hoping a revived deal to develop the far West Side of Manhattan, another crucial part of his vision for transforming the city, can become a reality."

And that doesn't get into his original Olympic Stadium fiasco, and the utter failure of Ground Zero redevelopment and the Moynihan Station. The record of his is littered with hype outpacing accomplishment-and that doesn't even get into the squandering of the first few years of mayoral control with a progressive education pedagogy that had to be scrapped and replaced from scratch.

As the Times underscores the real mayoral personality-we really like the fact that he's using the royal "We" nowadays-is emerging as the political policy road becomes more cluttered with his failures: "But several current and former officials say the public is just now getting a sustained look at the impatience and occasional anger that Mr. Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire unused to answering to any authority higher than his own, feels toward those who would stand in his way or challenge his motives. “It’s the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Mr. Vallone said of Mr. Bloomberg’s mood."

As we've said on any number of occasions, Bloomberg's problems have always stemmed from the fact that he just doesn't get politics, and holds it in contempt as well. Royal "We" indeed: "In some respects, associates say, Mr. Bloomberg’s anger stems from incredulity that systems do not function as they should, and from never fully adjusting to the last-minute, secret deal-making culture of politics, which he believes is a bad way to conduct business."

Notice the phrase, "as it should." In Bloomberg's world view, "as it should," means a system where he himself wields total control without the encumbrances of political forces, or "special interests" that might thwart his own unique vision of the public good. And just where does he get this vision or expertise from? Perhaps it's from the innovation of a financial gadget that made him into, not only into a billionaire many times over, but a political genius at the same time; the classic legend in his own mind.

So what's happening here is about time-the beginning of an honest appraisal of the Bloomberg legacy, or lack thereof. Kudos to Cardwell for once again setting the pace on this long overdue evaluation. We can only hope that the rest of the press follows suit.