The life and times of Bill de Blasio, the new mayor of New York City, reads like a satire from the typewriter of Evelyn Waugh. His Honor could have been a minor character in “Scoop,” Waugh’s classic send-up of newspaper journalism and bungling do-gooders stumbling across the margins of the real world. He’s a perfect fit in the scurvy precincts of Gotham’s radical left-wing politics.
Unlike his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, Mr. de Blasio has never had a real job, preferring the fun and games of political campaigns and hanging on at City Hall, where making trouble for people is a profitable way to avoid looking for a job. Unlike the mayor before that, Rudy Giuliani, who cleaned up the city and put it back on its feet, Mr. de Blasio does not understand how the welfare state, when left without the supervision and restraint of grown-ups, undermines initiative and erases the dignity of responsibility.
He doubled down on his campaign promises and fantasies in his inauguration blowout, bringing in fading celebrities of yesteryear, the likes of Harry Belafonte, Susan Sarandon, the usual preachers without their Bibles, and of course Bubba, who never misses the opening of a door, a supermarket or even an envelope, if only to see what might fall out of it. He administered the oath of office. If Calvin Coolidge could take the oath as president before a justice of the peace, why shouldn’t a mayor of New York give his word of honor to a disbarred lawyer?
Mr. de Blasio wants to be a municipal version of Barack Obama, to cure “inequality,” to spread prosperity under the supervision of City Hall hacks by crippling the people who create the wealth. He promises to tax the rich to give to the poor, the indolent and the layabouts, replacing the safety net and the authentic compassion of the Judeo-Christian culture which, believers or not, we all answer to.
Most politicians — most, by no means all — try to shield their families from the intrusions of the paparazzi of print and tube, but Mr. de Blasio exploits his, putting them on public view when there’s a camera in sight. He even produced a four-minute video of his daughter, a college student, telling of her pleasures and trials with “substance abuse.” There’s a lot of crackheads in New York City, of course, and some of them vote. Most people, in and out of politics, wouldn’t do that to his child, but a certain kind of politician can justify it by doing bad so that good may come.
His Honor, despite his grim and gray politics, may be the last of the red-hot romantics. When he married the poet-activist Chirlane McCray (whom he met when they both worked in the disastrous David Dinkins administration), they honeymooned in Cuba, where Fidel treated them grandly, and they dined on food from the mouths of the hungry millions who subsist mostly on warmed-over Marxism. (There is no obesity crisis in Marxist states.)
The de Blasios, as New Yorkers may soon learn, are simpatico with the Marxist formula for paradise, even when “formula” is all it ever amounts to. After graduation from New York University, where he excelled in “the politics of minority groups” and “the working-class experience,” with further “studies” at Columbia, he was off to Maryland to work for something called the Quixote Center. After toppling all the windmills in Maryland, he went to Nicaragua to work for the Sandinistas, returning soon to New York to organize Sandinista fronts, where much of the “work” was done sitting around in club houses talking about what rotters the Americans are.
Mr. de Blasio has always spoken to, if not actually for, the unemployed, the poor, “the people who live in substandard housing,” no doubt from sympathy and an urge to help. It’s an urge we should all cultivate. But Mr. de Blasio aspires to be first a goose-killer, eager to kill the golden goose who lays the eggs from which prosperity comes. Geese, even those of a golden hue, can leave a mess on the lawn. But without those eggs, there can be no prosperity. The Marxists know only how to leave a mess on the lawn.
Some conservatives think they see a silver lining in the clouds now gathering over Manhattan. “Let him have his way in New York City, and let people see what happens,” says columnist and television talker George Will. “I give him three or four years, and people will be begging for a return to something else.” Perhaps. But this mayor will leave a lot of stuff on the lawn in those years, without the eggs.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.