Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If I Were Bill Thompson

Now that the Democratic primaries are really, truly, and officially over, I want to take a brief foray back to my blogging roots and post on a purely political issue (though I'll mention education a little later on if that's what you care about).

Michael Bloomberg has been running with the tagline that he represents progress, not politics. If I were William Thompson, I wouldn't let him get away with running that line unchallenged. Here's the script of the ad I would run. For visuals, think of less-than-flattering pictures of the mayor in black and white or something. The voiceover would be done kind of like someone reading a picture book to first graders. Here's how it would go:

This is Michael Bloomberg and he sure loves playing politics. He used to be a Democrat. But then he decided that he wanted to be Mayor of New York City. There were a lot of Democracts who wanted to be mayor, so he became a Republican because it would be easier. Then, after he'd been mayor for a while, he decided he wanted to be president. So he stopped being a Republican and became an independent. But people didn't want him to be president so he decided that he wanted to be mayor again. He thought he was doing such a good job that he changed term limits so he could run for a third term. And he's a Republican again. Michael Bloomberg. He sure loves playing politics.

Never one for false modesty, I have to say that I think this is brilliant. The whole Bloomberg-is-totally-above-politics idea is so obviously false that it's child's play to point it out. If that's going to be the basis of his campaign, I would hit that point hard and repeatedly. It's only fair.

And now for my point about education (I told you I'd get there). Over the last few months, Thompson has criticized Bloomberg's handling of the schools under mayoral control. Regardless of the criticism or how valid it may or may not be, the Bloomberg response is inevitably, "Unh uh. And he wasn't a good president of the board of education when everything was terrible." (I'm paraphrasing here, of course.) Here's my response if I were Thompson the next time a reporter asked me about that:

"You know, it's funny. During the fight to renew mayoral control, Michael Bloomberg kept saying that under the old system no one knew who was in charge and there was no accountability. Now that I'm running for mayor, it turns out that I was in charge all along and that I should be accountable. I guess it took me running for mayor to help him figure that out."

In the interests of disclosure, I should say that I'm actually undecided in the mayor's race and that so far I don't think Thompson has actually done anything to influence me one way or another. In my mind, for now at least, this is entirely a referendum on Bloomberg. That said, the dishonesty and disingenuousness of the Bloomberg campaign offends me and it needs to be called out.

P.S. He may have lost yesterday, but this tongue-in-cheek ad for Mark Green is hysterical.

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