Yesterday, President Obama toured the Hurricane Sandy-damaged areas of Staten Island with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, and other city and state officials. While it was a hugging extravaganza for Obama, the visit exposed one of Bloomberg's major flaws: he's not a cuddly human being.
This isn't really a surprise: as anyone who has been to (or streamed) one of his many press conference, Bloomberg has a tendency to lose his patience easily with people. He doesn't exactly have a warm, inviting personality. The mayor IS excellent at crisis management, a skill which was essential during the first days after Sandy hit. But as the NY Times notes, he's been floundering a bit with how to interact with people affected by the storm ever since:
If the early days of Hurricane Sandy played to Mr. Bloomberg’s strengths — infrastructure expertise, no-nonsense crisis management — the extended and halting recovery has laid bare his limitations. After nearly 12 years of overseeing the nation’s largest municipality, he remains deeply uncomfortable with the role of consoling and soothing his city. He is rarely seen at public meeting with storm victims, and when he does interact with them, there are no tears or hugs.
Bloomberg's team counters that he has visited with many people whose lives have been upended by Sandy in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island—he just doesn't want those interactions exploited: “The people in this city didn’t elect Mike Bloomberg three times to give him a hug,” deputy mayor Howard Wolfson said. “His focus is helping people restore their lives. That’s what he believes government is there to do.”
But really, Bloomberg doesn't bear hug like Chris Christie, and he can't smile like Cuomo. He may be best remembered for how he handled the crisis calmly and efficiently, but he'll also be remembered for videos like the one below, where he got yelled at by enraged Rockaways residents who said they were desperate for water and supplies.
At this point, Bloomberg probably could care less what anyone thinks about him—as long as he doesn't do something incredibly stupid, like try to ban beer, his reputation as mayor is essentially set at this point. But if he does happen to be interested in learning the finer points of smushing two bodies together, there are plenty of helpful hugging gurus out there. If this lady can teach a horse to hug, how hard could it be to teach a diminutive plutocrat?