Friday, November 13, 2009

Blowing Smoke Up...

Tom Robbins really has a wonderful piece of satire in this week's Village Voice-and he satirizes the fatuous claim by Bloomberg's crack advisers that they did an unbelieving stellar job in the face of an, "anti-incumbent," wave: "A lot of New Yorkers were still scratching their heads about last week's election results when the mayor's campaign brain trust arrived at the NY1 TV studios the day after the vote to talk about the fine job they'd done. Their candidate, a popular two-term incumbent, had just spent somewhere north of $90 million on his re-election—the most by any local politician in history. The net result? Nearly 200,000 fewer votes than Mike Bloomberg got the last time he ran."

Do you think any bonuses are forthcoming? If you listen to the Bloomberg team, the checks should be hand delivered: "Bloomberg campaign manager Bradley Tusk, communications chief Howard Wolfson, and field director Maura Keaney were as smug and satisfied as if they had just brought an underfunded long shot across the finish line in first place. "One of the great things about this campaign and our success was making sure that we had a comfortable lead and margin throughout," said Tusk. High fives all around! We spent the annual budget of a Caribbean nation and managed to barely beat a campaign that never even got to first base!"

How badly did the campaign do? Check out the numbers from May to November: "What the Bloomberg Three accomplished for this big money was to barely tread water for six months. The first Marist Institute poll back in May had the mayor at 51 percent and the comptroller at 33. At that point, Bloomberg had already doled out $19 million, more than double Thompson's entire campaign purse. Fast-forward to election night: Bloomberg came in at the same 51 percent; Thompson hiked his tally to 46 percent of the vote. The way this breaks down when data-driven executives like Bloomberg start crunching the numbers is this: The additional $71 million he spent in the six months between May and November produced absolutely nothing, other than a 13 percent boost for his opponent."

The so-called anti-incumbent wave was a bit more specific to the mayor and the lavish campaign that he ran: "Tusk and company naturally scoff at such math. It is the old way of thinking, they say. It completely ignores the vicious anti-incumbent riptide that was surging through the electorate this year. Just look at what happened to poor Jon Corzine, a fellow billionaire, across the river in New Jersey. That was the Bloomberg Three's mantra: Voters were mad as hell this year, and we alone bucked the tide. This is another silly fiction adopted at the last minute by people who lack all class. In Corzine's case, the soon-to-be ex-governor was wildly unpopular, and was always viewed as a tough bet. Bloomberg boasted approval ratings that hovered around 60 percent. Corzine fought back to within striking distance, falling just short at the polls; New York's billionaire squandered a nearly 20 point lead."

A great many New Yorkers were either pissed off; or just disgusted by the incessant droning of the Bloomberg advertising-and this, in our view, doesn't bode well for the mayor's swan song (we hope). There is a striking level of discontent out there, and it is surely going to be getting worse as the mayor confronts the city's (and state's) fiscal mess with policies that will not play well at all.

Mike Bloomberg is getting what he overpaid for-and we feel no one deserves it more than he does; since he has done so much to help us reach this unpalatable point (and his actions in creating our current mess, just like much of his charitable giving, too often goes unacknowledged). This is one deluge that isn't apr├Ęs moi, and the king will have to deal with the mess he has made.