As Giants fans scrambled to order last-minute Super Bowl subs and pony kegs, and Wall Street rallied after a Fed rate cut to make this January only the fifth worst in the history of the S&P 500, the city was already bracing itself for the February 5 Super-Duper Tuesday winner-take-all demolition derby of doom. Rudy Giuliani won't be participating; he slunk home to Manhattan to campaign for longtime pal John McCain. (On the Democratic side, John Edwards dropped out but declined to endorse anyone.) Some big Kennedys threw their muscle and mystique behind Barack Obama, whom they hailed as a JFK-worthy agent of change. (Daniel Patrick Moynihan's widow, Elizabeth, seconded the motion, as did Rupert Murdoch, through his Post editorial page — ending his long, strange Hillary flirtation.)
New Yorkers enjoyed a three-day weekend thanks to Martin Luther King Jr., but the first day back at work was even worse than usual. Heath Ledger, the gifted and restless Aussie actor who seemed to have found a welcoming home here, was found dead in a Broome Street apartment at age 28. (Police officials, stumped by indeterminate autopsy results, said it might take two weeks to unravel the actor's cause of death.) The Clintons bullied Barack Obama — Bill on the stump and Hillary in a Democratic debate; the Illinois senator finally snapped, "I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes!" Rudy Giuliani's all-or-nothing strategy in Florida looked increasingly headed toward a "nothing" outcome; meanwhile, comeback kid John McCain raked in a million dollars in a single night of midtown fund-raising.
A resurgent Hillary Clinton wasn't the only one who felt like having a good cry last week. Barack Obama, whose momentum washed out prior to the New Hampshire primary, decamped for a $700,000 midtown fund-raiser at the Grand Hyatt; Richard Gere and Iman looked on as Obama plotted his counterthrust against the Clinton machine, vowing angrily to "take it to them just like they take it to us." Rudy Giuliani barely nosed out lovably loony libertarian Ron Paul in the Granite State for fourth place but insisted that he only has eyes for Florida, anyway.
As the first arctic blast of January weather whipped through town last week, the city was chilled by news that Iowans had frozen out New York’s candidates for the White House. Hillary Clinton’s last-minute plea on the first post-hibernation Letterman show —starring Dave’s new reindeer-wrangler beard—failed to help her, and she finished behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. Rudy Giuliani finished sixth behind Mike Huckabee but had left Iowa five days before the caucus anyway. Dark horse Michael Bloomberg denied that there was any significance in his attendance at a caucus of potential third-party candidates, though he took pokes at the front-runners’ lack of ideas. Fourth-place finisher Fred Thompson, who’s probably wishing he’d never quit as New York’s fictional D.A., lost his old Law & Order job to Sam Waterston.
As thousands of European budget travelers swarmed the rainy city and prepared to gaze at the big crystal ball in Times Square, many New Yorkers had already moved on to 2008. Bill Clinton worried about Mayor Bloomberg’s buying his way into the presidential race: “He could spend $1 billion and hardly miss it,” said the former president.
New Yorkers watching Will Smith walk through the ruins of an uninhabited Manhattan onscreen in I Am Legend knew just how he felt; it was a week for contemplating loneliness. Rudy Giuliani, indulging in fantasy population control of his own, envisaged a city in which he’d deported 400,000 illegal aliens. (“I would have had fewer problems,” he’s quoted as saying in a new book.)
As freezing temperatures and freak 40-mile-per-hour gusts came to town last week, ripping parts off several buildings, some New Yorkers wondered which way the winds were blowing. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who'd long had the breeze at his back in Iowa, suddenly felt the breath of Mike Huckabee on his neck (while Mitt Romney tried to win over Evangelicals wary of his Mormonism). Dan Doctoroff, Mayor Bloomberg's right-hand man, announced he's leaving City Hall to become president of Bloomberg LP.
The lighting of the solar-powered Rockefeller Center spruce put the city in a verdant mood last week. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debated who was greenest; Obama promised administration jobs to her husband, Bill, and Al Gore. Rudy Giuliani tried to explain travel expenses to the Hamptons that sprouted like weeds during the final months of his mayoral rule (when he was courting now-wife Judith). Anthony Marshall wept in court as he was charged with rejiggering the will of his mother, Brooke Astor.
As a judge allowed the Grinch into his theater, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the city last week. The season’s first powder dusted treetops, and Super Cute Hello Kitty and Jeff Koons bunny balloons paraded down Broadway. Barack Obama sledded ahead of Hillary Clinton in the latest Iowa poll, while Clinton settled for the Democratic equivalent of coal in her stocking—a pat on the head from President Bush, who called her a “formidable” candidate. Governor Spitzer, whose approval ratings are hovering near those of Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, had a Scrooge-like epiphany and declared that subway fares should stay at $2; meanwhile, the Feds coughed up another $1.3 billion for the Second Avenue subway. The Trust for Public Land bought an undeveloped seven-acre East River island to preserve it for commuting birds. The gift shop at Saint Patrick’s agreed to investigate whether its crucifixes were made by Chinese sweatshop laborers paid 26 cents an hour. A beleaguered Wall Street rallied behind record pay, while the luckiest bankers of them all, at Goldman Sachs, decided to give something back by starting a billion-dollar philanthropy fund. New crime stats indicated muggings are making a strong comeback in Central Park, Charmin's public potties received their ceremonial first flush from Molly Shannon. Robert De Niro accused Salander-O’Reilly Galleries of heartlessly stealing a dozen of his dad’s paintings. Mary-Kate Olsen went to the emergency room with a bum kidney. A-Rod bagged another MVP trophy, while the state-income-tax authority went gunning for Florida resident Derek Jeter. The Department of Buildings revealed that 40 percent of construction-site accidents are owed to projectiles plummeting to the ground below. And the landmarks commission decreed that the Guggenheim Museum must keep its seasonally appropriate off-white instead of reverting to the more yellow hue Frank Lloyd Wright preferred. —Mark Adams
Facing unholy approval ratings last week, Governor Spitzer stopped pontificating about his driver's-license plan and dumped it. Pope Benedict XVI announced that he'd bless the city with a visit next spring, with stops at Saint Patrick's, ground zero, and Yankee Stadium. Hillary Clinton was accused of playing God with her Iowa town-hall meetings by handing out preapproved questions. City cops very publicly declined to endorse their onetime overlord Rudy Giuliani for president. Alpha editrix Judith Regan sued News Corp., claiming that she'd been canned to protect information about former police commissioner (and ex-flame) Bernard Kerik "that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani's presidential campaign."
Some weeks, it's impossible not to feel the love. Christian conservative Pat Robertson embraced gay-friendly divorcé Rudy Giuliani. Rudy stood by former police commissioner Bernard Kerik, though it didn't stop a grand jury from indicting Kerik for tax evasion and conspiracy. Most-eligible bachelor MikeBloomberg inspired Newsweek to run a mash note about his presidential prospects on its cover, while the Post refused to believe the mayor wasn't pining for Eliot Spitzer's job, even after he declared, "I categorically will not run for governor."
It was a week for struggling to maintain control. Hillary Clinton swerved all over the road at the Democratic debate, explaining how she supported Governor Spitzer’s licenses-for-immigrants plan while simultaneously opposing it. Mayor Bloomberg, anticipating a drop in tax revenues, instituted a preemptive hiring freeze. Vice-President Dick Cheney spent a day hunting near Poughkeepsie, withholding comment about his hosts’ Confederate décor.
In a week filled with political trickery, Hillary Clinton lugged home a goody bag stuffed with treats: Barack Obama’s spooky attack ads on her Iran-resolution vote failed to gain traction, Elvis Costello haunted her 60th-birthday fête at the Beacon Theatre, and Rudy Giuliani announced he’s rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series (“I go with the American League team,” he explained). Governor Spitzer got t.p.’d by the State Senate on his alien-I.D. plan, though former police commissioner William Bratton said it sounded okay to him. Current police commish Ray Kelly drove a stake through the hearts of supporters by announcing that he had “no desire” to run for mayor.
For one week, our left-leaning metropolis tilted slightly to the right. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani reminisced fondly about the time he chucked Yasser Arafat out of Lincoln Center, and Fred Thompson spoke to city conservatives. Briefly disgraced chatterbox Don Imus reportedly secured a new deal that will put him on WABC, replacing lefty lawyer Ron Kuby, while rumors of a right-wing attack on Air America host Randi Rhodes proved to be somewhat exaggerated. (She actually fell on 39th Street.)
A noose dangling from the door of an African-American Columbia professor’s office was the only thing that kept Yankees manager Joe Torre off the front pages this week. Rudy Giuliani pleaded with a capricious higher power — God, that is, not George Steinbrenner — to save his pin-striped pal’s job (he’d already said he’d appoint Torre to his Cabinet if given the chance). Mayor Bloomberg, displaying the tendency to be not totally insane that has set him apart from his predecessor time and again, merely remarked that “you can have great people and great coaching and it’s just not meant to be.”
As Indian summer continued its extended run last week, some of the most popular kids in town found themselves getting the cold shoulder. A federal lawsuit charged Bloomberg LP discriminates against pregnant women, and BMOC Mike Bloomberg promptly reminded us that he no longer runs his namesake company. (Later in the week, a little red in the face, he admitted he regularly talks to senior executives there.) Onetime Most Likely to Succeed Barack Obama fell 33 points behind Hillary Clinton in the latest presidential poll.
In a week when much of the world came to midtown, the boldest names were to be found on campus. Hillary Clinton held up under heavy grilling at the Dartmouth debates, while Columbia University president Lee Bollinger invited Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad uptown, then called him a “petty and cruel dictator.” (For his part, Ahmadinejad denied that his country contained such dangerous American inventions as nuclear weapons and homosexuals.) Potential First Husband Bill was joined at his Global Initiative conference by poverty experts Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The former commander-in-chief also declared war, unsuccessfully, on Village eatery Osso Buco for hanging a promotional photo of daughter Chelsea in its front window.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s request to lay a wreath at ground zero was the unlikeliest wish in a week of ambitious schemes. Hillary Clinton took a second swing at universal health care, laying out a $110 billion program. Rudy Giuliani crossed the pond to London to rub shoulders with Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown, then suggested that Israel join nato. Dan Rather sued CBS for $70 million.
The sixth anniversary of 9/11 came and went, with what has come to pass for normality on the city’s darkest date: a walk-through at ground zero for victims’ families, and Rudy Giuliani observing a rare moment of silence. Just like old times, a suspicious powder turned up in the mail room at the Standard & Poor’s offices. Census data found that blacks appear to be leaving the city — an exodus that may increase after 704 code violations were found at a single Harlem apartment building. The toxic oil spill under Greenpoint was discovered to be bigger than anyone had imagined. HIV infections were once again on the rise.
As a halfhearted cabbie strike made it easier to flag down a school bus than a yellow taxi during rush hour last week, the Big Apple did its best to keep moving forward. Hillary out-earned rivals Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani in the city during the second quarter — and bested Rudy in a poll asking which candidate people would most like to have riding shotgun on a long road trip — but hit a speed bump trying to maintain her distance from former six-figure fund-raiser and felon Norman Hsu, who skipped out on bail.