Like nearly everyone else in the chattering classes, I’ve had some sport at the expense of New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential ambitions. I don’t view him as a viable candidate; I can see the lack of enthusiasm among the people who should be excited if he was; and I’m am astounded by his refusal to observe the red flashing signs saying Don’t Do This!
But now that he’s stubbornly gone ahead and jumped into the race, it’s probably time to regard him as we would any other dubious candidate and stop treating him like he’s a cross between Harold Stassen and Bobo the Simple-Minded.
He’s far from being the most ridiculous presidential candidate in living memory. He’s not as zany as another big-city mayor, Los Angeles’s Sam Yorty, as the L.A. Times later reminisced:
He gloried in the outrageous, like when he ran for President in 1972 and rode through New Hampshire in the “Yortymobile,” a Winnebago van equipped with a back porch for his speeches.
I’d even say that Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign in its sad, later stages became more ridiculous than BDB’s will likely ever become, unless Hizzoner finds a way to blow through $150 million while winning just three delegates.
And while de Blasio does not have much visible support in the early caucus and primary states, neither do a lot of other people who aren’t being mocked hourly by their hometown media.
That, in fact, could be the mayor’s big problem: New York media is a tad larger and more carnivorous than, say, the media in the hometown of his fellow mayor, Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana:
And it’s not like New York’s mayor can stumble on the campaign trail without his hometown media noticing. Part of the reason us scribblers are familiar with such precious moments as BDB dining on a gas-station burrito while stranded in a Iowa motel during a snowstorm is that the New York Post has been following him around.
Perhaps New Yorkers fear de Blasio has let the size of his job inflate his ego to dangerous heights, as did such predecessors as John Lindsay (who bombed on the presidential campaign trail in 1972) and Rudy Giuliani (who led early 2008 polls until voters weighed in and sent his candidacy straight down the crapper). It probably does bug him that Mayor Pete, whose city’s population is just over one percent of New York’s, is being treated as a viable candidate. But that’s all the more reason that getting pasted by Buttigieg or by some random U.S. senator or by Oprah Winfrey’s spiritual adviser could humiliate the city along with its mayor. He may be so bored that it seems like an innocent lark, but his constituents have a higher opinion of his day job.
There is also the question of timing. Did the chief executive of America’s largest city really have to wait around to become the 23rd member of the 2020 Democratic presidential field (or for that matter, the 11th straight white male to announce)? It’s not like Democrats were mulling the list of candidates with dismay, quietly wondering: Where’s Bill de Blasio?
So, yes, there are plenty of reasons for the mockery surrounding the mayor’s 2020 presidential run. But now let’s try to contain the laughter until such time as he mispronounces a town name or mishandles a groundhog in one of the early states.