That very handsome face looked at you on the screen and apologized for some things, took credits for others and the ad closed by saying it was the second toughest job in America.
The year was 1969. The handsome face? John V. Lindsay fighting for his political life. It? Mayor of the City of New York.
That ad and that campaign set a new standard. Screw up, apologize on screen belittling yourself before millions, and the people will forgive. Pretty clever politics meeting at the intersection of Hollywood maudlin and religion. Moral of the story: be handsome, tell your story as the ad man says you should, and a believing audience will immediately feel they are attending a religious revivalist meeting. People never considered insane will run out to find snakes to handle. They will start speaking tongues, roll around on the ground. Faith will be restored. And the pols can continue to do whatever they want.
More than 50 years later at a time when gunmen and even gunwomen rule the concrete, average people are not so dumb. The election turn-out numbers prove they got the joke: it doesn’t matter. Not voting the political scientists will tell you is casting a vote.
Alas, Mayor Eric Adams is watching his mayoralty evaporate in the world of death by poll and death by poll news media coverage and interpretation. A recent Q poll shows a public losing confidence in Mayor Swagger. Favorable opinions about him are alarmingly declining.
What are a few things Eric Adams can do to rescue Mayor Adams? Get off the road. Stop traveling. His constant absences make it appear that he believes America’s second toughest job is a part-time exercise. Lose the swagger. End controversial associations.
In the shooting gallery now known as New York City, people are going to funerals and making hospital visits to wounded friends and neighbors. Style is not what they want. Substance is. It’s not racism. It’s New Yorkers who voted for you crying out and asking where’s my mayor. They need you. Not style.
Get into the streets when least expected. Head to precincts when the different shifts turn out. Ride in a radio car again. Talk to your cops. Give them back the confidence the City Council and de Blasio took from them.
Stop making appointments. And get ready early in 2023 to fire many of the people you’ve already hired. Why? The agencies are not working. Seventy five New Yorkers have died by vehicle so far this year. The streets are still filthy. The reporters have only just begun to take apart your hires. Let’s go for confidence rather than attending to political due bills.
Demand progress reports from your commissioners and make them public. That will help prove that you are the manager you promised you would be. And enough with redemption. It used to be a good excuse but it’s worn out. Competence and less controversy better fit our moment of angst.
Be the Mayor. No more toe painting, no more preening. No more swagger until crime gets cut and the people who had so much hope for you again feel that they will follow you up any mountain you want.
Eric Adams: you can do this. You can make every blue collar soul who voted for you join you in the battle to save the nation’s best hope, New York. Just lead us. We’re waiting. We voters are no longer fools.