In the wake of a surprisingly close mayoral race, supporters of Bill Thompson can't help but dwell on the biggest "what if": What if, instead of barely acknowledging that a guy named Bill Thompson may be running for something or other in New York, President Obama had actually thrown his support behind the Democratic candidate, even a little? "Obama had lists he could have given, and support," former deputy mayor Barbara Fife tells the Times. "But he never said boo." Congressman Anthony Weiner thinks Obama could, at the very least, have made "maybe one appearance" on behalf of Thompson. Maybe while he was in the area stumping for Jon Corzine all the time?
Implicit in the shaming and blaming of Obama is the assumption that the president would have helped Thompson had he realized how close the race really was. As a top Bloomberg adviser told the Times,
"If a poll had come out showing that the race was within five points, Barack Obama would have swung into town, the United Federation of Teachers would break for Thompson and Mike Bloomberg would not be mayor today."
An "Obama insider" uses the "we didn't realize how close it was" rationale on the Daily News. "It was a sleeper race," the source tells the paper. "No one thought it was going to be a close race, especially Bloomberg." But more revealing is what that same "Obama insider" says later in the article:
"[Bloomberg's] an ally, so I'm not sure we would have spent the political capital," the source said.
"Obama didn't even put out a statement endorsing [Thompson]. That tells you how we feel about Bloomberg."
Those are telling words. Maybe the real reason that Obama didn't go to bat for Thompson was not because he thought Thompson was certain to lose, but because he didn't really want Thompson to win. Not that that would sting any less.