In this era of reboots and franchises, where name recognition matters above all else, you can blame one character beyond political resurrection for the real-life horror movie we’re living in: Anthony Weiner.
You could say it was Weiner who made de Blasio mayor, as Anthony’s rapid round trip from disgrace to frontrunner back to disgrace cleared the lane for Bill to move from also-ran to top dog in the race’s closing weeks. Weiner, then fully disgraced, who made Donald Trump President as the probe into his sexts with an underage girl led the FBI to reopen its investigation of Hillary Clinton in the campaign’s closing days.
And it is Weiner who provides an object lesson in the thing that unites de Blasio and Trump, two New Yorkers always happy to cast the other as a convenient foil. Politicians — people even! — keep doing the same sorry stuff until they’re forced to stop.
If we take anything from 2016, and it remains to be seen if we will, it should be that there are no magic checks and balances, no system that insulates us from human nature. Just us. We’re it.
Players who recognize how susceptible we remain to the same old tricks, and how weak the laws and norms meant to protect us from our own worst instincts have become, keep pulling them. New York City is filthy with these zombies.
Trump. Al Sharpton. (Both, not incidentally, advised in their presidential runs by Roger Stone.) Curtis Sliwa. Bo Dietl. Eliot Spitzer . Weiner.
And de Blasio, putting his progressive spin on “honest graft.”
In just a few days, a guy who kicked big bucks to de Blasio’s operation in the hopes of winning favors from his administration will take the stand as the government’s star witness in its case against another guy.
That guy is on trial for the Ponzi scheme he allegedly ran, when he wasn’t also kicking big bucks to the de Blasio’s operation in the hopes of getting government favors.
Yet de Blasio looks like a solid bet to win reelection since prosecutors let him off the hook with a public scolding in March for his various sundry schemes.
Now that he’s not facing charges and his most potent potential rivals have ceded the field, the mayor seems undisturbed by the sleaze dripping everywhere in de Blasio’s New York.
Like his donor turned federal witness, Jona Rechnitz, paying a hooker to entertain top cops as he joined them on a private flight to Vegas and Super Bowl party there. Hand-delivering $ 60,000 in a $ 820 Ferragamo bag to another sucker caught up in that Ponzi scheme, the powerful and now-disgraced corrections union boss who declared “it’s about time Norman Seabrook got paid” as he took that relative pittance in exchange for dumping $ 20 million of his members’ money into a failing hedge fund.
The head of that jails system, Joe Ponte, violating clear rules by using his city car for frequent trips to Maine — the sort of thing civil servants get fired for doing and a conflict of interest so severe that even the Department of Investigation led by de Blasio’s 2013 campaign treasurer called him out after the mayor tried to blame the “systemic” abuse on mistaken “guidance” from an unnamed official.
The city okaying a luxury building to go up on the site of what had been a nursing home for AIDS patients. The city’s best-paid lobbyist — also a longtime confidant of and big donor to de Blasio — represented that group for a while, though he says he wasn’t involved in the deal.
And also says he wasn’t involved in the ceremony on the steps of City Hall last month where the mayor honored Dwight Gooden 31 years after his World Series win with the Mets, an event the city paid for even though it was, the New York Times reported, “conceived as a scene for a television series in development” produced by one of the same lobbyist’s clients.
Like Eric Trump said about the family’s golf business after its patriarch became President, “the stars have all aligned.”
Last May, de Blasio promised to deliver a list of all the money his operations collected from people whose requests his administration then rejected. Months later, he backtracked, echoing Trump’s audit alibi for hiding his taxes by saying that list would have to wait until the various probes of his operation were done.
This April, after the probes were over and he’d wriggled off of the legal hook, de Blasio said there would be no list at all but just an Op-Ed “this month” detailing a few “examples.”
It’s May, with no sign of that Op-Ed and no serious opponent in sight. The primary is in four months; the general election in six.
After that, it’ll be time for Mike Bloomberg’s advice to critics after he won reelection in 2005 and was presumably term-limited out: “They can boo me at parades.”