Young Joe Lhota Hated Communism, Overpriced Beer
Much of the mayoral race's mudslinging this past week has centered around whether Democratic nominee Bill de Blasio is, in fact, a class-warfare-loving "Marxist playbook" user, as his Republican counterpart, Joe Lhota, has suggested. And since we were all wondering, the Paper of Record confirms it: This is something that genuinely has Lhota worried. In a New York Times profile this weekend, he described himself as a "virulent anti-communist," telling the paper: "It is a bad system, an immoral system, and one that takes away the rights of people and the rights of individuals. And everywhere it's gone, it's failed."
Lhota's been a student of the laissez-faire school since his college days, when he was crusading for the invisible hand of the market to guide beer prices at the campus pub.
At Georgetown University in 1975, while campaigning for student senate, Young Lhota lighted on the campus drinkery, where the skyrocketing prices of beer and pizza caused him to conclude that the institution had lost "all sense of fiscal control," as he wrote in a campaign pamphlet. He promised lower beer prices and more beer for everybody, and by God, he won.
At the same time, Lhota fell in love with Barry Goldwater, who, while running for president 10 years earlier, had railed against the "swampland of collectivism" and the "bully of communism." Like Goldwater, Lhota isn't much interested in regulating things like abortion, gay marriage, and marijuana legalization, all of which he supports (not that New Yorkers wouldn't warm to an anti-gay, anti-pot candidate). His biggest mentor was Professor George J. Viksnins, a Latvian refugee who preached, in the Times' words, "an early version of trickle-down economics."
All of which serves as a backdrop for Lhota's statement last week that de Blasio needed to explain himself to New Yorkers who had escaped countries where "Marxist tyranny" reigns, and his assertion that de Blasio was hanging out with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua at a time when "the cruelty and intrinsic failure of communism had become crystal clear to anyone with a modicum of reason." (Although the Sandinistas were (and are) socialists, not communists.)
The question is whether this is an actual campaign issue that New Yorkers will warm up to, and not a weirdly heated history lesson pitting young, floppy-haired de Blasio against young, looked exactly the same as he does now Lhota. It's certainly getting ample play on ultra-right wing aggregate site Drudge Report; you can see the results in the comments section of this Politicker article, where Drudge fans are fretting about "redistribution of wealth" and "WHITE GENOCIDE." (Drudge can get out of hand rather quickly.)
"I'm moving the end of the year," writes one New York-based Drudger. "This communist loon is going to get elected and so I want out now."
The same is true over at Lhota's Facebook page, where one voter urges Lhota to "Get the word out that de Blasio is a COMMUNIST !!!" Another guy just calls de Blasio "Che." Although he's still lagging in the polls, Lhota's definitely got the anti-commie vote on lock.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.