Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why Anthony Weiner Will Be The Next Mayor Of New York

I’m not a political pundit. I don’t even play one on TV. So, I have the luxury of making a pronouncement on the New York City mayoral race without worrying about the dreaded blowback if I am wrong. (Besides, such internal meditation doesn’t stop Chris Mathhews.)
However,  I have played a messenger in the movies — OK, one movie.  And I’m here to deliver a message. That movie, Putney Swope, was made in the last third of the previous century. Directed by Robert Downey, Sr. (a prince), it placed on  critic Judith Crist’s  10 Best Films Of The Year list, and also garnered zero stars (as in 0*) from the Daily News.
What does a controversial (for that time) film have to do with a controversial (for this time) politician?  Each pushed the envelope by using media.
But wait, there’s more.
The movie’s premise may well play out on New York City Mayoral Primary Day, Tuesday 10 September.
Putney Swope satirizes the advertising industry, the larger consumer culture and the entrenched institutions, for which it stands. When the advertising agency president collapses and dies during a Board meeting, the bereaved boardmembers must  pick a new leader immediately. (First they pick the dead president’s pockets.)  There’s one little hitch to the election. You may not vote for yourself.  Everybody votes for the one person who just could not win, Putney Swope,  the agency’s music director, the black guy. The rest is cinema history.
Weiner, though not particularly black, is the one candidate who could not possibly win. Hs major offense is that he has been caught in the act of high tech flirting — coarse,  tasteless, decidedly unromantic flirting.
And yet, when we look at the other candidates, a sudden calm descends. It is the same calm enjoyed by the sheep that no longer can elude the tiger. We have Christine Quinn whose term limits performance does not qualify her for a profile in courage.
Then there’s Bill DiBlasio. Wayne Barrett’s article in the Daily News, “What YouDon’t Know About Big Bill,” shows DiBlasio to be someone who says much that is progressive, does little that is substantive and takes a lot from extremely questionable donors. He does however prove to be effectively non-responsive when asked about anything that may enlighten. 
Bill Thompson cites his experience as New York City Comptroller. Not a comforting idea, as documented by New York Times article, “As Pension Chief, Thompson GaveWork to Donors.”  It notes: “But interviews and a review of thousands of pages of records — schedules, e-mails, pension statements and campaign finance reports — suggest frequent overlap of Mr. Thompson’s political ambitions and the comptroller’s operation, and that like many pension overseers at the time, he raised campaign money aggressively from those seeking business from his office.”

John Liu apparently has done a good job as our current comptroller. The campaign financing issues that hang over his head may or not be a smear. Still, too many doubts are likely to result in too few votes.
 Here’s the thing. Weiner’s style of making friends may have a few rough edges. He may not be a likely contender for the Dale Carnegie award. His policies are detailed and progressive. He can’t be accused of just saying what people want to hear. And even during his private moments, he cannot be accused of doing to his correspondents what his opponents have done to the city.
 Putney Swope for mayor. 
Otherwise we might get the man who would kill kittens so that the trains run on time.

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