So there’s finally an all-out fight between Bloomberg and Spitzer. (Their boss Shelly Silver is not going to be happy!) As you may have heard at some point just before dozing off, the pretext is, oddly enough, illegal immigration, on which Bloomberg is fairly liberal. (Granted, it’s hard to run New York and be hawkish on immigration. Even Giuliani knew that.) Under Spitzer’s new initiative, illegal aliens will be able to get New York State driver’s licenses by producing a foreign passport. Early Thursday, Bloomberg objected to the idea on the reasonable-sounding grounds that it may devalue the NYS driver’s license to the point that it won’t be accepted as an ID for air travel. The upside: Later the same day, Spitzer blew his top in a vintage, pre-Troopergate fashion — on a visit to an elementary school, no less. “[Bloomberg] is wrong at every level,” the governor said in front of what we’d like to imagine was a classful of frightened children but was actually a gaggle of reporters. “Dead wrong, factually wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, ethically wrong.”
That’s a whole lotta wrong. It’s prudent to note, at this point, that Bloomberg’s original criticism was worded pretty meekly, with a touch of the Jewish mother: “I’m really skeptical,” he said, “But it’s the governor’s call.” Therein lies the perceived threat, perhaps: It’s the governor’s call, and when I’m governor, I’ll unmake it. Have we just seen a sneak preview of 2009? Is there an elected office Bloomberg isn’t half-running for? And is there an experience chastising enough for Spitzer — who last month gave a fantastic speech about not allowing “our passion to get the best of us” — to stop yelling at people?