Monday, November 02, 2009

Billy Who?

All of the normal kibitzing about the relative merits of a campaign challenger's efforts seems to us-at least when we examine the current Thompson challenge-to take on the characteristics of theater of the absurd. The Bloomberg spend-a-thon takes the mayoral contest to a different dimension-so much so that his apparent victory should, in our view, be treated very much like the Mark McGuire home run record; and be given a steroid induced asterisk.

Some of this is brought home by a NY Daily News story in yesterday's edition of the paper that found that a great many New Yorkers simply don't know who Thompson is: "Who is this guy?
Just days before Election Day, few New Yorkers can identify a photo of Democratic challenger William Thompson, an unscientific Daily News survey showed. "I know he's running for mayor, but I don't know his name," said Rashel Craig, 34, a stay-at-home mom from East New York, Brooklyn."

The fact that Thompson is campaigning in what appears to be almost total anonymity, gets to the root of the manner in which the Bloomberg fortune-and Mike's willingness to spend it-has made this election a charade of true democratic practice. So when consultants start to critique Thompson's efforts-focusing on his failure to do this or that-they are demonstrating what C. Wright Mills, in a different context, labeled, "crackpot rationality."

This form of rationality is an example of instrumental reason unhinged from any ethical or moral context. So, in the case of the current mayoral campaign, this takes the form of examining the intricacies of the challenger's "failures," while eschewing the larger context of how Bloomberg will likely win the pot by the simple act of buying the entire casino.

This is all about the complete mockery that Bloomberg has made of a process where real choice presupposes certain things being relatively equal. When this basic factor is totally obliterated with tens of millions of dollars of self aggrandizement, it becomes the only factor worth analyzing-all else is, as they day, merely footnoting.