No one will ever go broke by overestimating the ego or the self-satisfaction of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire has spent the last ten years attempting to purchase the votes and even the affection of New Yorkers but after leading a largely charmed existence, his act has gotten extremely old. As even the usually flattering columns of the New York Times noted today, Bloomberg’s stock has definitely gone down in the past few months.
As Fred Siegel and Sol Stern noted in their brilliant skewering of Bloomberg in the March issue of COMMENTARY, the mayor’s supposed triumphs in his first two terms in office was always something of an illusion. His administration’s disastrous and arrogant failure to deal with this past winter’s snow emergency crystallized the way New Yorkers have finally come to grips with the mayor’s failures. Though some put it down to third term blahs, as Siegel and Stern point out, the notion that Bloomberg was a successful mayor had more to do with his ability to purchase the loyalty of both the political class and the myriad activist and community groups that might have brought down a non-billionaire years earlier.
But what comes across most clearly in the Times assessment of the state of Bloomberg today is that despite the jokes from comics at his expenses and the falling poll numbers, the smug belief in his own rectitude that has always been the mayor’s dominant characteristic has not been dented. As the headline of the piece aptly puts it, this is a man who “likes what he sees in the mirror.” That may well be true and the mayor’s ability to sell himself to other elites as a powerful leader still makes him a force to be reckoned with. He may actually think that he is, as one pollster quoted by the Times says, New York’s greatest mayor. But despite all the praise he buys from pliant media figures or others who fear to displease him, Michael Bloomberg’s best days as mayor are all behind him. What lies ahead is the certainty of more failure and the opprobrium for his corrupt methods that is long overdue.