Sunday, March 09, 2014


If you live in New York, you know the conventional-wisdom narrative about our new mayor, Bill de Blasio: yes, he was elected with with 73% of the vote, but a new Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist poll says everyone hates him now -- he has a job approval rating of 39%. He's failing in his efforts to get universal pre-kindergarten funded through a tax increase on the wealthy, which has to be approved by the state government (and which is opposed by the vastly more savvy, vastly less liberal, and vastly more popular governor, Andrew Cuomo); in addition, he's alienating his own voter base by engaging a jihad against charter schools.

You'd expect this narrative from the Murdoch media, but here it is from Mort Zuckerman's Daily News and Cablevision's giveaway city daily, am New York:

(Source; source; source.)

Never mind the fact that Cuomo's own job approval ratings also plummeted, to 42%, in the latest WSJ/NBC/Marist poll (this at a time when most officeholders get lousy job scores, mostly as a reaction to the economy). And never mind the fact that on charter schools in particular, as Gina Bellafante of The New York Times explains today, the conventional de Blasio narrative is at odds with the facts:
... Mr. de Blasio ... approved 14 of 17 charter schools for co-location in traditional school buildings, which does not easily suggest that he is conducting a war on charter schools. And yet this has become the conventional wisdom. Five of the approved schools belong to the high-performing Success Academy network, run by Eva S. Moskowitz, who having led the protesters upstate chose to focus not on her win, but rather on the fact that three of her schools were rejected.

In two of those instances, elementary schools would have been set up on high school campuses, a practice the city has come to regard as problematic, and the third, a co-location at Public School 149 in Harlem, would have not only put an already overcrowded school at 135 percent of its capacity but also would have displaced a vast number of children with special needs....

You would have learned none of this from Ms. Moskowitz, who marketed her tale of victimhood by proclaiming that the mayor was disenfranchising "poor minority kids who want a shot at the American dream," as if the autistic and behaviorally challenged children at P.S. 149 were coming from Sutton Place.

The larger repercussion of the whole affair is the signal it sends of a mayor who has lost control of his narrative....
But isn't this typical for Democrats who get elected to important offices as progressive change agents in the media centers of Washington and New York? It happened even to the moderately liberal Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: yes, as candidates they won plaudits from the mainstream press, but as soon as they proposed actually doing a few progressive things (tax increases on the wealthy, universal health coverage, economic stimulus, gys in the military in Clinton's case), the honeymoon was over. Clinton's first two years were as fraught as Obama's; by contrast, Bush was allowed to amble along aimlessly until 9/11, never truly under assault by a centrist press echoing his enemies' talking points. De Blasio is having a Clinton/Obama-style non-honeymoon.

(And let's not even talk about the lack of negative coverage early in the first term of another local pol, Chris Christie. Needless to say, his activist agenda was pugnaciously right-wing, yet it was backed by Democratic legislators in his state. And much of it was directed against unionized teachers, who are History's Greatest Monsters. So it was OK.)

De Blasio probably shouldn't have laid a finger on charter schools, given the heavy involvement of hedge fund billionaires and other Masters of the Universe in these educational enterprises. The school "reform" movement is where plutocrats, media types, and self-promoters like Michelle Rhee meet at black-tie dinners and congratulate one another for their profound empathy. And then the well-heeled press barons go back and order bad coverage of anyone who expresses skepticism about the whole reform process.

It's an uphill battle -- just as, at the national level, raising taxes on these same Masters is an uphill battle. Try it too early in your term and they'll respond by seeking to crush you. That helps eplain why liberalism struggles to gain a foothold in American politics.


Victor said...


Our "Fourth Estate" makes me want to down a fifth a day.
Ok - a liter.
Truth be told - as much of a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka as I can stand a day, between 4pm and 5pm, and still stay standing.

I'm a proud Liberal, and never stopped calling myself that!

But, back in the 70's, I was only a bit left-of-center.
My views haven't changed much - maybe moved a little bit further left - but now, as the country has lurched to the Reich-Wing, a proud Liberal like me, looks like he's tongue-kissing Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, and Che.

Unknown said...

The problem is not enough proud liberals/progressives. They have allowed conservatives to demonize the moniker, with little pushback.
If Democrats would support the liberal agenda aggressively, instead of cowering in fear at the mere mention of "liberalism", maybe they wouldn't be considered weak.

PurpleGirl said...

What I want to know is where does Cuomo think he can get the money for universal pre-K? Does he intend to get it from the lottery proceeds? Are there excess revenues in the lottery stream?

Cuomo has been allergic to the idea of raising taxes. He seems to believe that state revenues grow on trees. He deludes himself.