Last night was the first debate between Mike Bloomberg and Bill Thompson as the two campaign for mayor. I watched it (because that's the kind of guy I am) and wasn't terribly surprised by what I saw. Predictably, Thompson came out swinging in his first opportunity to confront the mayor face to face. Predictably, Bloomberg didn't really rise to the bait and tried to paint himself as the pragmatic problem-solver who's above the usual politics. So no surprises there at all.
Also, unsurprising was that education came up fairly often, even though nothing new was said. Bloomberg said that things are better now with him in charge of the schools than they were when Thompson was in charge. Thompson said that he actually did some good things, but that he wasn't ever in charge because, remember, no one was in charge under the old system.
That was one of two highlights of the debate for me because I think it means that Bill Thompson is reading my blog. I wrote a few weeks ago that he should say almost exactly that. I also wrote out an ad script that basically got turned into a question during the "cross examination" portion of the debate. And it actually hit home. When Thompson asked about all of Bloomberg's party switching and whether that represented just more politics, the mayor was noticeable uncomfortable. It was perhaps the only point of the debate in which he didn't seem to have a ready answer. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have thought of that, but I put it in print so I'm claiming full credit.
The bottom line (as both candidates seemed to enjoy saying) is that we didn't get anything last night we weren't expecting. Education is still an issue, but it's still a bludgeon. No new insights. No new programs. No new ideas. We'll see what happens on October 27th when they meet again.