The rumor that former President Bill Clinton might challenge New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2005 is great fodder for fans of political intrigue.
As a former Manhattan resident, I was a first-hand witness to how the demands of being Mayor chewed up John V. Lindsay and Abe Beame. The three toughest jobs in politics are President, Governor of California and Mayor of New York.
Take pity on poor Lindsay. After four successful terms in the House of Representatives, Lindsay won the mayoral election in 1965. On his first day in office, a transit strike shut down the city and forced the cancellation of Lindsay's inaugural parade. In fact, the transit strike was one of many municipal strikes that dogged Lindsay during his two terms.
By the time his second term ended Lindsay, once considered presidential timber, was washed up. Not even switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party could save him. He finished way down the list in several 1972 presidential primaries, and then vanished from the political scene.
Under Beame, who had a thirty-year municipal career crunching numbers, New York suffered the worst financial crisis in city history. Thousands of employees were fired or laid off. Wages were frozen. Beame, in an effort to avert bankruptcy, turned to the federal government for a bail out. But Beame's plea fell on deaf ears.
When Beame was turned down flat, the New York headlines screamed: "Ford to City: Drop Dead." By re-election time Beame, the incumbent, finished third in a Democratic primary.
Given the tribulations of Lindsay and Beame (and the only slightly better experiences of their successors, Ed Koch, David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani) I am not clear on why anyone—much less Bill Clinton—would want to be Mayor of New York.
Clinton reported a 2002 income of $10 million mostly from giving the same stale speech all over the world. If you factor in his perks—first class airfare, hotel, limos, swanky restaurants—why would he trade that life of comfort to lock horns with school Chancellor Joel Klein over test scores? And every night that he is on the road is a night he's not home in Chappaqua.
Bloomberg, a Republican billionaire, spent $75 million of his estimated $5 billion fortune to edge out Democratic rival Mark Green.
What did Bloomberg get for his $75 million investment? He is the most hated man ever to hold the office of Mayor. Bloomberg is even less popular than Gray Davis!
No one can think of a good thing to say about Bloomberg. He is referred to as cold, distant and aloof. Bloomberg recently indicated an interest in escorting Jennifer Lopez to dinner. Unfortunately for Bloomberg, he'll have to dream up another way to improve his image. Ms. Lopez is unavailable.
More worrisome for Bloomberg is that according to a New York Times poll, only 24% of those polled approve of his job performance. Pollsters cannot recall a more dismal showing.
Among the reasons New Yorkers are dissatisfied with Bloomberg are rising rents, increased taxes, higher subway fares, more citations issued for minor infractions, a recent ban on smoking in public places and the final indignity, a state law that bans the sale of cigarettes over the Internet to New York state residents. Note that Bloomberg takes some heat for this even though it is a state law.
White, black and Hispanics agree that the city is in worse shape than when Bloomberg took office in January 2002. Bloomberg's backing among whites is 31 percent; blacks, 19 percent and Hispanics, 19 percent.
With numbers like that Bloomberg should be concerned about Clinton or any other warm body who has a hankering to be New York Mayor.
But the Clinton rumors will come to naught. In a witty analysis of Clinton titled "When Bill Clinton Swears He Isn't Running for Dog Catcher, Roll Over Rover" London Times reporter Stephen Pollard writes:
"Don't believe for a second, though, any of the reports about him standing for Mayor of New York City. They have all the telltale signs of what is known as utter rubbish: 'Friends of Mr. Clinton (a man who once shook hands with him and last year sat at the next table to Hillary in the Old Ebbitt Grill) have been urging him (the 'friend' told his wife, who told her hairdresser, who thought it would be 'neat') to consider running (the thought has never crossed Mr. Clinton's mind but, heh, it makes a fun story)'."
But, warns Pollard, just because the story is nonsense doesn't mean that it will go away.
You can expect to hear a lot more about Clinton and New York over the summer months.
Joenote to VDARE.COM readers: Regarding immigration, Bloomberg has done the impossible: he has eclipsed Rudy Giuliani in shameless pandering. Bloomberg never misses an opportunity to call for a blanket amnesty for all illegal aliens – despite the events of 9/11. Run, Bill, run – you can't be worse!
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.