“Scornful glee” might be more accurate. Either way, my experience today reading news coverage, watching man-on-the-street interviews in NYC, and following social media completely jibes with Katherine Miller’s headline at BuzzFeed, “Everybody’s Having A Great Time Hating De Blasio.” There seem to be no geographic or ideological lines to it either. If you’re a righty, you hate him because he’s a lefty. If you’re a lefty, you hate him because the field is already oversaturated with more likable, and more progressive, progressives. If you live outside New York, you hate him because he’s a g-ddamned New Yorker. If you live in New York, you hate him because … well, because you’re a New Yorker. New Yorkers hate him too.
The big winner of his entry into the race, I think, is Beto O’Rourke, just because Beto’s been filling the role of designated media whipping boy for months. That changes now.
Miller was outside ABC’s studio in Manhattan this morning for de Blasio’s appearance on “Good Morning, America.” She found an atmosphere that was almost festive, with people from all walks of life brought together in their mutual laughing contempt at the thought of a “De Blasio for president” campaign.
But eventually the entire situation melded into one big “LIAR” chant, subsuming a variety of other chants about inability to run the city and so forth, and uniting the people. Teen tourists put on foam fingers and joined in. A pair of women “on holiday” shouted “LIE-AHHR.”
Another family of tourists came up and asked not-quite-audible questions about what the protest was about (audible answer: “because he’s an asshole”), and one clad in a black Houston Rockets hat followed it up with, “Why is he a liar?” Occasionally, people would walk up, ask what was going on, and laugh.
Setting aside Bill de Blasio, human man, and whatever critiques and commendations you may want to bestow upon him, and whether de Blasio has a chance (since you really never know), and whether there’s a real darkness in this kind of joy: People are having a lot of fun.
“People are having a lot of fun” is like saying “People are responding well to that new Avengers movie.” I mean, really:
Today's cover: Bill de Blasio officially launches 2020 presidential campaign pic.twitter.com/g973kWfGJ3
— New York Post (@nypost) May 16, 2019
Satire sites are in on it:
— The Onion (@TheOnion) May 16, 2019
The president’s in on it too. Trump and the Onion, united at last!
It’s like a national dunk tank with Blas getting flushed over and over. If you believe Pro Publica’s reporter, de Blasio’s interest in running is itself rooted in hate — hate for his job as twice-elected mayor of the greatest city in the world, specifically:
A former top aide for De Blasio told me this is exactly right: He is utterly bored and hates being mayor. He doesn’t expect to win but he just wants to get out of NYC. It’s… pathetic. https://t.co/hFdhMcMVv7
— Jesse Eisinger (@eisingerj) May 16, 2019
Go figure that he’s unpopular among his own constituents.
I don’t follow left-wing politics closely enough to grasp fully why even progressives seem to dislike him so much. He’s committed his share of ideological heresies, but so has every other candidate running. Just this week we’ve watched Elizabeth Warren hint that Bernie Sanders is a sellout for having fed the right-wing “hate machine” at Fox News by participating in a town hall there. I think Blas suffers from an unfortunate combination of abrasiveness, anti-charisma, in which people take a personal dislike to him for no clearly articulable reason, and hubris in believing there’s some meaningful political gap in a field of 23 candidates which only he can fill. He may be in a sort of “uncanny valley” in his prominence as a public figure too in which he’s not so obscure that his longshot bid can be politely tolerated and ignored (Steve Bullock, Michael Bennet, Andrew Yang) but also not so popular or personally compelling that he’s worth paying serious attention to (as Biden and Bernie are). He’s just sort of … there, for no apparent reason, and Democratic voters who are already exasperated with the size of the field now have to make more room for him. They’ll make him pay for it.
In lieu of an exit question, two very enjoyable short man-on-the-street vignettes for you.
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) May 15, 2019
— Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) May 16, 2019