Posted by: jonahlr | August 29, 2009

Why the NY Times Editorial Board Got This One Wrong

The New York Times today endorsed Bill de Blasio for Public Advocate. Here are some snippets taken from that endorsement:

The office must be more than just a place for politicians to prepare a run for the mayoralty at the taxpayers’ expense.

It’s odd that they would write this in a endorsement for de Blasio. If anyone wants to use this office as a stepping stone for mayor, it’s de Blasio or Gioia. Both are fairly young. Both have been involved in politics for quite a while. And both are potential mayoral candidates. Green, of course, has already run for mayor, and may wish to do so again.

So, it almost sounds like they are endorsing Siegel here, since Norman has never shown any interest in becoming mayor, and has said many times that the two offices (Public Advocate and Mayor) have entirely different skill sets. Furthermore, Norman has suggested that the Public Advocate no longer be next in line to the mayor, which shows his obvious disinterest in becoming mayor.

All the other candidates have run for multiple offices, whereas the only position Norman’s ever run for is Public Advocate. Norman doesn’t want to be mayor. It’s hard to say the same about the rest.

Mr. de Blasio has an impressive political résumé, starting with his time working for David Dinkins and later running Hillary Rodham Clinton’s United States Senate campaign.

Sounds like he’d make a great mayor. But this is different. This is the Public Advocate we’re talking about. And in this position, I think it makes more sense to elect a non-politician, an outsider who is capable of keeping close tabs on the insiders. An outsider unencumbered by political alliances and ambitions. That’s why Norman makes the most sense for this job. Norman has very little political history, but has a very impressive resume advocating for the people of New York. That’s why he ought to be elected Public Advocate.

We have not always agreed with Mr. de Blasio, and we worry about his coziness with the state’s powerful unions.

His coziness with the unions is deeply troubling. As is his coziness with various city politicians, developers, CEOs, and executives. It’s hard to imagine someone with his relationships making a good Public Advocate.

But, over all, he has the best temperament and best record of the four candidates. We endorse Bill de Blasio for public advocate.

I find both statements questionable. Best temparment? I find that laughable after watching the way de Blasio handled himself in the Brooklyn Newspaper and Campaign Finance Board debates. And best record? I don’t think so. Norman has spent more than four decades fighting for the people of New York City. He’s fought against racism, overdevelopment, eminent domain, homophobia, mayoral control, and all sorts of other issues. He is a legend in this city. That’s far more than de Blasio can say.

While the New York Times is certainly one of the greatest journalistic instutions in the world, they’re not so good with the endorsements. This is just one more example of the Times’ editorial board getting it wrong.

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