On the one hand, how could he have denied it? By now the whole country’s seen the YouTube video of cops turning their backs on de Blasio when he arrived at Woodhull Hospital, where officers Liu and Ramos had been taken after being shot. The head of the PBA accused him on camera hours later of having blood on his hands. Obviously he’s lost the trust of some, if not most, of his squad. On the other hand, it’s also obviously true that Obama’s lost support among the military over the last five years but good luck getting, say, Martin Dempsey to readily agree to that with a “Today show” camera pointed at his face — especially during a moment of crisis, as the NYPD shootings are to New York.

Maybe that difference is simply an artifact of how military and police functions differ; a top officer badmouthing the commander-in-chief would violate norms of discipline that don’t apply (at least to the same degree) to a civil police force. Bratton was de Blasio’s top choice to be commissioner, though, a guy handpicked in part because New Yorkers remembered him fondly for turning the city’s crime rate around during his first stint as commissioner under Giuliani. De Blasio knew that New Yorkers leaned far enough left to want to vote for him but not quite so far that they’d tolerate a return to crime levels seen under David Dinkins, the city’s last Democratic mayor. Bratton was hired to reassure them that, at least when it came to policing, it’d be Giuliani-esque business as usual. (Bratton, in fact, is famous for championing the “broken windows” approach to policing that encourages cops not to tolerate even minor offenses, one of the reasons they were interested in busting Eric Garner for selling “loosies.”) And now here’s the same guy, admitting on national television that de Blasio’s lost “some” of the force. Amazing.

Been a long time coming, though:

From his opposition to stop-and-frisk policies during his mayoral campaign to more recent comments about how he wanted his biracial son to be careful around police, the mayor’s record on law enforcement is now front and center in an increasingly nasty war of words…

The police unions already were at odds with de Blasio over, among other issues, his handling of the response to the Garner case — Garner died in a struggle with police after being approached for selling loose cigarettes, but no officer was charged. 

The de Blasio administration allowed days of demonstrations and drew criticism from union leaders for his comments during that period — including saying his family had to “train” their biracial son how to act around police. 

“I don’t put the blood of these police officers on the mayor’s doorstep,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News on Monday. “I lost police officers, Bloomberg lost police officers. What I do hold him responsible for is letting those demonstrations get out of control. … He’s guilty of creating an atmosphere of police hatred in certain communities.”

Ray Kelly, who served as commissioner for all 12 years of Bloomberg’s administration and was himself touted as a candidate for mayor, accused de Blasio yesterday of having run an “anti-police campaign” in 2012 and claimed that his comment about needing to train his biracial son on how to talk to cops so that they didn’t hassle him was especially galling to the force. Bratton himself, while tepidly defending de Blasio, echoes Giuliani’s point above in insisting below that the murders of Liu and Ramos were a “direct spin-off” of the demonstrations. Where the city goes from here in terms of de Blasio’s ability to govern, God only knows. There’s no way he’s going to resign, Jazz’s best intentions to the contrary; the voters elected him, not the cops. I think a police “slowdown” of the sort imagined here is unlikely too, partly because the NYPD will be understandably reluctant to see its gains against crime over the past 20 years slip and partly because it would cede some of the heavy advantage they have over de Blasio right now in terms of public opinion. Bratton mentions at one point here that labor negotiations have been contentious. If de Blasio’s numbers dive, that’s where the force can get its revenge.

Put me down on Noah’s side of the great “should we blame rhetoric for murder?” debate, though. Protesters chanting “dead cops!” is way closer to the incitement line than the infuriating garbage that the left threw at conservatives in trying — with no evidence whatsoever — to blame Sarah Palin and tea partiers for the Gabby Giffords shooting, but this is still a bad game to play. Guilt by association is unfair to people whose intentions really are peaceful; it’s easily exploited by opportunists to pressure mainstream political actors into censoring themselves (which was the left’s goal with the Giffords shooting, undeniably); and it unwittingly reduces the moral sanction against violence by letting the perpetrator share the blame. If that degenerate who shot the two cops was still alive, he’d have been well advised at his sentencing to claim “rhetoric” drove him to desperation, whether that was actually true or not, and therefore it was really the protesters’ fault that he did what he did. Why let a cop-killer reduce his culpability?