Fresh off his perfectly fine performance at last night’s first mayoral debate, Joe Lhota released a TV ad warning voters that Bill de Blasio’s “recklessly dangerous agenda on crime will take us back” to the graffiti-strewn mugging-and-rioting hotspot some will remember from the seventies, eighties, and early nineties. The clip opens with an ominous-voiced narrator claiming that De Blasio “voted to take 5,000 cops off our streets” before moving on to footage of last month’s highly publicized motorcycle-gang attack. “And Bill de Blasio’s response to violent biker gangs? Visit motorcycle clubs and talk to bikers,” the narrator explains, incredulously.
It ends with a photo montage of bad-old-days highlights — the Crown Heights riots, a wealthy-looking old lady hiding behind a subway pole — accompanied the same music certain cable-news stations use for the in-house documentaries they air on weekend nights. De Blasio called Lhota’s attack “desperate and divisive,” and compared it George H.W. Bush’s infamous 1988 “Willie Horton” ad. And De Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan responded, “Lhota is right that we can’t go back: we shouldn’t return to the days when Republicans like Giuliani used fear tactics to divide New Yorkers against each other.” Also because time travel is impossible, as far as we know.