Bill de Blasio 2020: The campaign no one wants
Poor Bill de Blasio. Did you know that he is the tallest municipal leader in any major American city? This is probably the only interesting fact about the mayor of New York, but he never gets any credit for it. It certainly doesn't help that both of his immediate predecessors have been iconic figures: The image of Michael Bloomberg as a soda-grabbing billionaire technocrat weirdo looms very large in the popular imagination, and Rudy Giuliani is a beloved right-wing meme. In his home state, de Blasio doesn't even win the superlative for being the most craven politician, an honor that belongs to the Democratic governor, Andrew "Amazon" Cuomo. Can someone please think up a memorable nickname for him that is not a mild ethnic slur?
De Blasio's reported interest in seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is so pathetic that it makes the long-shot candidacy of his fellow mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, seem inspiring in comparison. All of this came into painfully sharp relief over the weekend when a whopping 20 people showed up to see de Blasio appear at a roundtable on mental health in New Hampshire. Fourteen of them were invited members of the panel. If a politician gives a speech in an early primary state and no one hears it, did it really happen? Yes, but only because of the internet. When party kingmakers say that de Blasio is "non-existent in Iowa," they mean it literally.
There are obvious reasons for this. Outside of New York, de Blasio's political career would be utterly incomprehensible even to ordinary Democratic primary voters, among whom he enjoys the dubious distinction of being the only would-be 2020 contender with a net negative favorability rating. Here is a Democrat who belongs to no recognizable national wing of his party. He is not a DSA-lite progressive or a Midwestern moderate or a centrist hawk. He is servitude to woke capital in human form, a man of the people who travels in a two-SUV convoy to work out at his old neighborhood gym every morning.
Under de Blasio all of New York's much-lamented problems have gotten worse. Despite his verbal commitment to affordable housing it has never been more expensive to live in the city. Five years after the release of "Rising Together: The De Blasio Vision For New York City Transportation," the disgusting trash labyrinth that is the city's public transit system is less reliable than it was when he took office. The best way to tell that de Blasio doesn't care about something is if he makes noise about it. As a candidate he was a relentless critic of the New York Police Department; after being elected he promptly appointed Bill Bratton, who had held the job under Giuliani, as police commissioner. As far as I can tell his only real accomplishments in office are changing his mind in the most baffling and publicly humiliating manner possible about the erstwhile "mission critical" Amazon headquarters project and harassing the city's poor mohels. He also wants to legalize dope.
In the concrete jungle that is New York politics, de Blasio has the benefit of being the last bad choice for a narrow plurality of several million people whose views on a wide range of issues are out of step with those of the average American. There he is acceptable as someone who can pay lip service to various socially liberal causes while allowing developers to turn Manhattan into the odd combination of ghost town and luxury resort that it is today. Anywhere else he comes off as, well, exactly what he is: the least inspiring stooge for the donor class imaginable, a dream candidate for Republicans who would combine the woke posturing of a Beto O'Rourke with the sordid record of a Kamala Harris and the soaring oratory of a Tim Kaine. The world's smartest computer could not algorithmically generate a worse Democrat in 2020.
President Trump really should encourage him.