The days of the long goodbye dwindle. Less than four months until Bill de Blasio leaves Gracie Mansion. NYPD bodyguards, pesky press corps, receptions honoring, saluting, commemorating and boring will become daily duties of the City’s new leader.
Many of us will miss the tallest of mayors. In humid and hot New York City summers when many of us sweat Yankee blue, only Bill de Blasio had the guts to smirk Boston Red Sox loyalty. Only he could deflect blame for the gun-shot victim, blood staining our sidewalks. Only Bill de Blasio would with pride publicly announce a budget containing a multi-billion deficit. Only Bill de Blasio… words that will crowd the beginning of each sentence describing our memories of him.
We are being unfair. He is what creates mayors, governors, presidents, officials even at the lowest levels. He is a strategist, political consultant who twice elected himself New York City mayor.
He and many closest to him avoided jail, investigated by state and federal prosecutors for violating campaign finance laws. Often, he left the City behind with a smile, traveling the nation, running for president.
Bill de Blasio is no accident. His career is the place where mind, emotion, and manipulation mate. He is the perfect product of the political industry. He lives and exists in a place called the permanent campaign.
The permanent campaign, political business students and buffs might say, was defined nearly 40 years ago by viewing the apparent symbiosis between a pollster/strategist and an aspiring southern politician–Dick Morris and Bill Clinton.
They together at the time were the power. When not together, Clinton failed. That duo in sync was unbeatable.
Bill de Blasio needs no partner. He needs no helper, no symbiosis. He is the strategist and the candidate. Unashamed, and unafraid. Only Bill de Blasio.
We owe Mayor de Blasio plaudits for universal pre-K. Lots of plaudits. We owe him for calling for and attempting to create affordable housing. We owe him less for crumbling highways, dirty streets, NYCHA mismanagement, payrolls padded with non-civil service political hires, failed homeless policies, moving vans lining the streets of many neighborhoods. There is a sense that things are just plain out of control.
A once defeated mayoral candidate was asked why he lost. He did what few politicians seem to do these days. He paused. Reflected. I just wasn’t what the people wanted. Just didn’t fit the moment, he said.
But, Bill de Blasio made sure he fit and now is orchestrating his exit. Reporters say that he has become less combative, more seemingly interested in talking with them, rather than battling and barking. He has been the kind face coaxing us through COVID and the wise stage manager of the final act of his greatest role–mayor– knowing when to appear, in what costume, and at what time. Only Bill de Blasio.
Yes. Only Bill de Blasio.