Barring an unforeseen catastrophic event, Bill de Blasio will become the next Mayor of New York City. The Democrat leads Republican challenger Joseph Lhota by a whopping 40 to 50 points, depending on which poll one cites.
In a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of six-to-one, de Blasio's imminent triumph is perhaps inevitable. (And the growing anger over the GOP and its culpability in the prolonged shutdown of the federal government has likely killed whatever slim chances Lhota may have once had.)
A few weeks ago – quite unsurprisingly – de Blasio received an endorsement from a fairly glittering source: president Barack Obama, which the would-be Mayor felt “honored” by.
I found this interesting, since Obama and de Blasio share many characteristics. For one thing, they are both about the same age (early 50s), and grew up close to their mothers and estranged from their fathers. (Indeed, in tribute to his Italian mother, de Blasio adopted her maiden name as his own surname, while forsaking his given name, the very German “Warren Wilhelm.”)
More importantly, de Blasio is as under-qualified to lead the nation's largest city as Obama was to take over the reins of the world's greatest super-power.
De Blasio 's political “experience” (if you can even call it that) comprises serving as New York City Public Advocate -- a job with duties that no one can really define. In fact, “public advocate” is such a meaningless and worthless position that outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg (a pretty smart fellow) called for its elimination to save the taxpayer the $165,000 in attendant annual salary costs.
"You should get rid of the public advocate," Bloomberg once said. "It's a total waste of everybody's money."
Prior to his do-nothing term as public advocate, de Blasio served as City Councilman for Brooklyn's 39th District. During his decade-long tenure as Councilman, de Blasio 's principal thrust appears to have been focused on housing discrimination issues and programs for low-income residents.
Aside from these elected offices, de Blasio worked as a “political organizer” for something called the Quixote Center, a Maryland-based organization described as a promoter of “faith-based social justice.” Later, he volunteered in the mayoral campaign of David Dinkins, who gave him a job as a “city aide.”
Under Dinkins' stewardship, de Blasio apparently made contacts with some very powerful Democrats, eventually culminating in President Bill Clinton appointing him as the Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for New York and New Jersey in the late 1990s. This link with the Clintons also led to de Blasio running Hilary Clinton’s successful 2000 New York Senate campaign. (It pays to have friends in high places).
Is all this enough experience to enter Gracie Mansion? Perhaps it is, given that Obama gained much higher office with an even thinner resume.
How de Blasio won the Democrat Primary remains something of a mystery.
When de Blasio announced his candidacy for mayor in January, he found himself in the middle of the pack of a crowded field. However, he somehow catapulted over the front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and ultimately trounced all rivals in the primary. Of course, de Blasio was likely helped by some “celebrity endorsements” (from Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte among others), as well as by much-hyped TV commercials highlighting his interracial family, which made his teenage son Dante (and his huge afro) an instant media star.
However, de Blasio 's policy platforms did not differ substantially from any of his competitors, nor did he boast more qualifications. He even overcame endorsements for Quinn by the city's three major newspapers (Times, Post, Daily News). Perhaps this means that de Blasio benefitted from an extraordinarily weak field of candidates (Quinn was too closely linked to the now out-of-favor Bloomberg; Bill Thompson severely lacked charisma, Anthony Weiner is a sex pervert, etc.) or maybe the public can be heavily persuaded by gimmicky TV commercials.
Now, let us consider the “experience” of one Barack Hussein Obama. He was elected as a state senator in Illinois in 1997, representing the South Side of Chicago. He served for several terms, basically focusing on health care programs for his constituency of low-income residents. In 2004, he ran for U.S. Senate, handily defeating right-wing crackpot Republican Alan Keyes (after another GOP politician, Jack Ryan, had to resign due to a sex scandal).
So far so good.
But after his much-applauded speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (which suddenly gave the obscure Illinois lawmaker a national profile), Obama seems to have focused entirely on running for president.
Yes, he did do some legislative work, including sponsoring an immigration reform measure (Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act) as well as bills related to federal funding accountability.
However, he hardly stood out from any of his peers in Washington while in the Capitol. He was obviously more concerned with his 2008 presidential campaign – which he, like, de Blasio in the Mayoral primary, inexplicably won.
Obama and de Blasio have something else in common – a past littered with flirtations with questionable far left figures.
Obama’s relationships with left-wing Chicago radical Saul Alinsky (the “founder of community organizing”) and Bill Ayers, the 1960s hippie activist and convicted bomber, are already well known. But de Blasio has had even deeper ties with Marxists.
In 1988 under the auspices of the aforementioned Quixote Center, de Blasio travelled to Nicaragua and expressed his support for the ruling Marxist Sandinista government there. He even raised funds for the Sandinistas through the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York.
Even worse, de Blasio and his wife visited Communist Cuba on a “honeymoon” (a trip that is essentially illegal since, as an American citizen, de Blasio cannot go to a country which has no diplomatic relations with Washington).
De Blasio has characterized criticisms of his jaunts to Marxist states as “a right-wing tactic” (echoing the complaints from a few years ago of Hilary Clinton that she was the victim of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”)
But de Blasio simply cannot lose this election – not even his lack of singular achievements, his vague promises of income equality and his links to Communists have jeopardized his quest for City Hall whatsoever. Most of the public simply does not seem to be bothered by his unqualified status (as the nation as whole felt about Obama in 2008).
It remains to be seen, of course, if de Blasio will be good for the city or not. But if he follows the path taken by his political idol, Obama, New York City may be facing some dire times ahead.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.