The most important thing that non-New Yorkers need to understand about the protracted reign of Mike the First is that he was not elected and reelected because the people liked him, but because the Democratic alternatives were worse. Bloomberg was not only a dead zone when it came to charisma or empathy, he was unlikable and affectless from the start. His only calling card was competence and Sandy may have taken it away from him for good.
Walter Russell Mead has some thoughts on what Bloomberg was up to. “Michael Bloomberg must have hoped that Sandy would be his own 9/11. A population in shock turned to the mayor in their hour of need. He dominated the airwaves; he issued decrees. He seized the occasion to speak out on the big issues: climate change, endorsing a president. He worked to project an air of authority and calm: the Marathon would go on.
It must have looked for a while as if he had done a Rudy and resuscitated a tired mayoralty, relaunching a national career. Perhaps a cabinet appointment in a second Obama administration, perhaps another shot at an independent presidential campaign.”
It’s certainly possible that the perpetually out of touch Bloomberg was thinking that a few tiresome press conferences, empty of content, would show the people his true greatness. That’s something he can tell the people of Sheepshead Bay. And with Christie on the scene hogging the spotlight, in every sense of the word, there was never a chance of Bloomberg or Cuomo getting to turn themselves into the heroes of the hour.
The core difference between Giuliani and Bloomberg, is that the former tried to get a handle on an unprecedented crisis, and did better at it than the governor or the president. While Bloomberg messed up a crisis that the city should have been prepared for, but wasn’t. Like Giuliani, Bloomberg had rubbed New Yorkers the wrong way with petty regulations, but that would have been forgiven if he had shown any ability to handle a big crisis.
Bloomberg blew the snowstorm and that was bad enough. But he blew Sandy and that is much worse. There are too many dead, too many people who feel left alone and isolated, by a mayor who couldn’t get past his uptown mentality to look in on Staten Island, Brooklyn or Queens, who denied access to the National Guard because of his finickiness about guns and kept the marathon going because in his circles that was a thing to do.
Rather than tackling emergencies, Bloomberg has cackled about climate change and obesity, he has tackled trendy Obamanoid causes with rhetoric and micro-regulations, instead of fulfilling core governance obligations by preparing for real emergencies.
The final illusion that Bloomberg is anything but a liberal drone comes from his Nation interview, where he says that, he endorsed Obama “not because I’m thrilled with him, but to me, choice, gay rights, the environment are the real issues, more important than economics.”
That is exactly the mindset of a man who will ban large sodas while letting the flood waters rise.