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New York magazine has a short list, based largely on the suggestions of Democratic operatives, of ways Bill Thompson could beat Mike Bloomberg in this year’s mayor’s race. It is a noble effort but unconvincing.
Its first item, for example, is “Keep repeating ‘Mayor for life, mayor for life’… A reliable bet is to stoke anger over Bloomberg’s defiance of term limits, a simple issue that resonates with educated white voters, who have high turnout rates.” Maybe the strategists think all New York reads Queens Crap. But cosseted by a complaisant press, city voters these days are less inclined to anti-incumbent outrage than even their upstate neighbors: the recent Q-poll showed that we were least likely of all New York geographical voter groups to throw out our own state senators, despite their key roles in the hated Albany Coup. What chance is there of riling them sufficiently to throw out Bloomberg?
Other tactics are as easily dismissed. “Mak[ing] the case that Bloomberg has rendered the city unaffordable” is like making the case that New York relies too heavily on the financial sector: Few would disagree, but what hope have they of changing the situation with anything so demonstrably powerless as a vote?
We are inspired to offer our own short list of winning tactics for Thompson, which are at least as likely to work and a good deal more fun:
1. Attack Bloomberg’s fashion sense. The Mayor has enough interest in men’s style to discuss it with fashion reporters, and is rich enough to make odd fashion decisions for himself. Thompson’s campaign should run as many photos as possible of Bloomberg wearing Bass Weejuns, brightly-colored sweaters, or ostentatious rich guy drag, while Thompson himself should go around dressed in dirty overalls and a stained t-shirt, and perhaps a doo-rag and tilted Yankees cap, showing himself a sartorial man of the people.
2. Call attention to Bloomberg’s posh multiple homes. Bloomberg keeps buying property in Bermuda. Surely there must be some intrepid photographer who could sneak in, perhaps disguised as a slave, and snap some pictures of the undoubtedly crazy-lavish digs that would make plain to the people that our Mayor is something like an old-fashioned plantation owner; Photoshopped insets of Bloomberg wearing a panama hat and carrying a whip would emphasize the point. Thompson, conversely, should be pictured warming a plate of beans on a hot plate in a hovel.
3. Prank-call Bloomberg’s WNYC radio show. Baba booey!
4. Demand equal time on NYC-TV. Apart from being a sink of corruption, NYC-TV may credibly be characterized as a mayoral propaganda outlet, and sued for access by the Democrats. If they win, they should devote their allotted time to Spitting Image-type puppet mockeries of the Bloomberg Administration. Nothing would catch fire faster than a bossy, felt Christine Quinn. And maybe they can steal the Bloomberg muppet and subject it to indignities on air. Sketch idea: Bloomberg is tripped up at Yankee Stadium by his Boston accent, and beaten by fans.
5. Anarchy! In the last ditch — which should be coming up any minute now — Thompson should go rogue and start tearing shit up. “This town needs an enema,” he could announce, wearing a kerchief over his face, in a tape made from an undisclosed location, and declare himself at war not just with the Mayor but also with civil society. His campaign staff could go door to door, not with clipboards, but with spraypaint and stencils of Thompson and the word OBEY; eventually some windows at Bloomberg LLC would be smashed. It would bring some of the frisson of the health care town halls to our thus-far over-decorous mayoral race. It may not win the election, but isn’t that really out of the question anyway?