"Sulzberger, that fox!" the important male voice boomed, sending tiny shards of croissant flying off the fine china. "That pinko's getting an extra case of Montrachet this Christmas!" The Times has endorsed Bill de Blasio for mayor, yet the important voice was not perturbed. "Minnie! Listen to this: 'Someone to sustain and build on the 12-year legacy of Michael Bloomberg…It's a huge job, never mind the revolution.'" Yes, the voice sounded pleased. "Minnie! Did you hear me? Never mind the revolution!"
The paper's City Hall bureau dubbed it "Nuanced," others might say Diet de Blasio, but the distinction is clear: By the look of last week's debate, the candidate has begun his very mature march to the center. It's a fixture of any post-primary campaign. The Establishment needs to know it can count on the candidate to be reasonable and realistic in their capacity to alter the status quo and sober in the face of their most idealistic supporters.
So how has de Blasio embraced realism? By acknowledging that his plan to raise taxes on the richest New Yorkers will likely die in Albany and isn't nearly substantive enough to generate real revenue? (One more politically palatable idea: Tax the city's obscenely wealthy, tax-evading "non-residents" instead).
By toning down his blind, cash-driven support of the taxi industry and admit that the outer-borough cabs help taxi-starved New Yorkers?
By reassuring voters that by taking campaign donations from dubious real estate interests he isn't compromising his commitment to affordable housing or his ability to deal fairly with developers?
Nope. Instead, de Blasio sounds "mushy," and noncommittal ("Testy" even, to some.) For instance, he expressed skepticism about pedestrian plazas. Previously he supported them, but now he's not so sure. The remark likely won't mean much in the long run, but it's this sort of naked, pointless (40+ percentage points!) pandering that some people thought was beneath a Sandanista (surprise!)
Cut to today's Times endorsement. The paper's editorial board recognizes de Blasio's shortcomings, and chides him for the reasons above, but ultimately concludes that New York can prosper under a considerably more modest agenda:
With the election only 10 days away, Mr. de Blasio is polling so far ahead of the Republican, Joseph Lhota, that commentators have already anointed him leader of a national rebirth of left-wing populism.
Hold on. We’re electing a mayor here, someone to keep streets plowed and safe, budgets balanced, schools working well and constituents of five boroughs satisfied. Someone to sustain and build on the 12-year legacy of Michael Bloomberg, while realizing his own vision for New York. It’s a huge job, never mind the revolution.
They're right, of course. But raising taxes is not a "revolution." And de Blasio didn't campaign on A Tale Of A Few Things That I'll Make Sure Stay The Same And Maybe I'll Get Around To A Few New Ones.