Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Silence of the Lambs

The NY Times ran an interesting analysis yesterday of the poor state of the Democratic party in New York-and what this depleted status meant for the upcoming mayoralty: "The situation has already led some Democrats to be pessimistic about the party’s prospects in the mayoral race, nearly eight months before Election Day. “Frankly, I don’t see the party organizing against him,” Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, a Brooklyn Democrat, said about Mr. Bloomberg. “I don’t see the party committing a lot of its scarce resources to what most would consider an unlikely win.”

But this lead us to musing on one of our favorite topics-the inverse proportionality between Mike Bloomberg's performance and his approval ratings-ratings that remain high while most New Yorkers find it difficult to warm up to him. Bloomberg, for his part, remains Popeyesque; the "I am who I am, and that's all that I am refrain: "On Tuesday morning, in a new poll from Quinnipiac University, Mr. Bloomberg was given high marks for job performance but was perceived by New Yorkers as cold and unable to relate to their problems."

So, while Bloomberg remains thoroughly unlikable, he continues to stay rather incongruously stratospheric when it comes to most polls. Why the disconnect? If we were to place our finger on this disparity, we think that the culprit must be the media; an entity that has, for over seven years, remained thoroughly incurious at investigating the mayor's job performance; and the gap between how the mayor portrays his achievements and the real world evidence that we believe tells a different tale (although, as of late, that has begun to change just a bit-with more media scrutiny being evinced).

The problem here, as with all things Bloomberg, is the power of the purse-and Mike's ability to toss around millions as if they were pennies from heaven. With so many of the local dailies on the verge of collapse, Mike Bloomberg remains always available as a potential White Knight-which leads to an obsequiousness bordering on courtier status; to wit, the flipping on term limits demonstrated by all three of the locals.

And what's with the NY Post, writing a schools puff piece on a daily basis in the run up to the debate over mayoral control? So incessant has the bleating been, that they almost convinced us that our schools are reaching Utopian status-and that the 78% increase in the local school budget has given us our money's worth. Here's the latest on a polll that "supports" mayoral control-with the headline transcending the real conclusions in the survey: "Overall, 47 percent of voters approve of the way Mayor Bloomberg has run the schools, compared to 40 percent who give him a thumbs-down. But when voters were asked if the mayor should share power over the schools with the City Council, the results shift: 53 percent support joint authority, and 37 percent don't."

So, with the prospect of a mayor going to break all time election spending records to achieve immortal status, we will not be able to rely on the press to really go after him on his exaggerated campaign claims; certainly not to the extent that the tabloids diminish, deconstruct and demonize lesser pols. After all, Mike's part of the Billionaire Boys Club and, as a consequence, is beyond real reproach.