City Hall News starts a recent profile on Bill Thompson's mayoral campaign as follows:
"Bill Thompson cannot win the competence argument against Michael Bloomberg. He would like to, he is trying to, but the idea that Bloomberg is good at the job of being mayor is so deeply entrenched in the minds of New Yorkers that any time spent trying to convince people that he would actually be better would probably be in vain."
Almost the exact same thing could be said of the mayor's education record. It's taken as self-evident that mayoral control has been a good thing for city schools. That's why when Thompson makes charges about the books being cooked, the Bloomberg campaign's response is, essentially, that Thompson is just jealous of the record. Never mind that the record itself is being called into question. That doesn't matter because everyone knows that mayoral control has been a good thing.
More than the billions of dollars that Bloomberg possesses and more than the tens of millions of dollars he's willing to spend on the campaign, Bloomberg's biggest asset in this campaign may be that his record - on schools and other things - has become a form of unspeak unto itself. Accurate or not, it wins the argument before one even starts.