Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Clyde Haberman gets it just right in his column in the NY Times yesterday. Claiming that Mayor Mike was inflicted with a case of "Giulianiosis," he chided the mayor for his stealth campaign to alter term limits: "In the end, the theory of the indispensable man failed. Mr. Giuliani left office on schedule at the end of 2001. Both the city and the republic survived. Now Mr. Bloomberg is making noises that sound suspiciously like an echo of that theory. After years of speaking unswervingly in favor of term limits, he has wavered. He now seems open at least to the concept of a voter-dodging maneuver by the City Council to give him and other city officials a third term beyond 2009."

Haberman then goes on to debunk the, "indispensable man" theory, that underlies the mayor's less than candid effort: "But it just could be that Mr. Bloomberg, like Mr. Giuliani, has never fully absorbed Charles de Gaulle’s admonition about indispensable men. The graveyards, de Gaulle said, are full of them. Not bad advice for would-be presidents, too, come to think of it."

But will this admonition deter someone whose wealth seems to place him-at least in his own mind-above the strictures that deter more mortal men? Will being the mayor's cat's paw, deter Speaker Quinn, someone whose vulnerability in this is somewhat more pronounced than the mayor's?

Remember this. If the city council passes a law rescinding the results of two referendums it will be open to a strong legal challenge. If the challenge succeeds, than all those council members who voted for term extension will be very vulnerable indeed-particularly as they seek other offices when their terms end. A cautionary tale indeed.