Monday, 9 September 2013

Actually, no

We have a big news double here in New York tomorrow: the mayoral election and Obama’s national speech on attacking Syria. In both cases the message filtering through is a big, fat NO.

The city’s unreliable polls on the race to succeed Bloomberg have suggested in the last few series of numbers that Christine Quinn, current president of the City Council and early heavy favorite, is disappearing. Quinn was supposed to sail into the mayor’s office on Bloomberg’s ample coattails, but the same proximity to the outgoing mayor that made her a powerful figure has now come back to haunt her.

The other candidates in the race, de Blasio, Liu, Thompson, even Weiner, hammered away all summer at all the things that have made New Yorkers sick of Bloomberg, who overstayed his welcome by a full term. Four years ago, he concocted a scheme to give himself a third one despite two citywide plebiscites fixing the limit at two, and Quinn helped him push it through. That arrogant exercise in itself might not have cooked her goose, but there were just too many ways that Quinn’s agenda fit snugly with Bloomie’s.

Quinn always generated high negatives, but mostly she’s carrying the burden of Bloomberg’s own, and it’s her own fault for not taking her distance from him earlier and more explicitly. She’s tried to paint herself as the wise lawmaker, the only real adult in the room, the pragmatic, realistic power broker, and in some ways it’s a fair characterization. But on topics like economic inequality, police abuses, hospital closings, educational re-engineering, Bloomberg has made a lot of people angry with his autocratic style, and now Quinn, as one of his principal enforcers, is getting the stick.

Meanwhile, in Washington our Nobel peacemaker president is frantically trying to round up support for military action against the Syrian regime, a prospect that is losing its glitter by the hour. It must be tough to follow the George W. Bush act about ‘mushroom clouds’ emanating from Baghdad when trying to convince people of the official story on poison gas in Damascus. I’m personally inclined to believe that the Assad regime slaughtered its own populace in this way, but my conviction weakens every time Susan Rice or Chuck Hagel pounds the lecturn and insists that that is what happened. Apparently, I’m not alone.

After two decades of patriotic bluster and warfare-worship starting with Gulf War I under Bush the Senior, Americans finally seem to have developed some weariness over the prudence and necessity of going off to stir things up in yet another Middle East nation. The easy triumphs of the 1990s and the trauma of 9/11 made it easy for Rumsfeld and the whole neocon claque to push us into the historically criminal Iraq enterprise. But with Republicans a priori against anything that Barack Obama is for and serious opposition emerging among the Democratic base, it’s hard to see where or how the White House is going to put together a winning formula. Like so much coming out of Washington these days, gridlock is not the worst possible outcome.

In short, Tuesday is likely to be a day of rejection, of the rule of a 25-times-over billionaire, and of marching in lockstep with the logic of an imperial military. It might be a coincidence, or perhaps it’s a sign of a deeper rebellion just getting underway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not surprising that another country might have poisoned its own citizens. Here when citizens have demonstrated they've been beaten, had dogs set on them, firehosed, SPRAYED WITH POISON in full view of onlookers, tear-gassed, and, oh yes, shot and killed with real bullets. Syria might simply following our own pellucid example.