Goldman Sachs, says Mike Bloomberg, “may not have done anything wrong and may have done everything right.”
“You’ve got to wait and give them the benefit of the doubt,” says the mayor who rushed to condemn Plaxico Burress, several fire chiefs tied to the Deutsche Bank fire, and protesters at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Asked on Morning Joe Monday about the SEC civil suit filed last week against Goldman, Bloomberg said he doesn’t know “whether it’s appropriate, whether it’s accurate,” adding, just in case you dared to have an opinion: “Nor does anyone else.” Anyone who thinks otherwise is just “speculating.”
This same Benefit-of-the-Doubt Bloomberg instantly declared when Giants star Burress shot himself at a bar in 2008: “You go to the slammer for three and a half years,” even blasting the team and the hospital that treated him.
The carefully judicious Bloomberg also called a press conference ten days after the Deutsche Bank fire and removed three fire chiefs from duty, virtually blaming the deaths of two firefighters on one decorated chief, though the ultimate disciplinary actions against the chiefs made no reference to the allegations the mayor loosely tossed around that day.
And our Mayor Mike immediately pronounced the NYPD response to protests at the 2004 convention a “huge success,” untroubled by the fact that hundreds were jailed for as much as three days, although they’d received the equivalent of a traffic ticket. The actions were taken in defiance of a court order and have led to millions in city settlements with abused protesters. Though 90 percent of the cases against protesters were dismissed, Bloomberg explained: “You can’t arrest 1,800 people without having somebody in the middle who shouldn’t have been arrested.”
It should come as no surprise that he has so similarly rushed to the side of his old friend Lloyd Blankfein.
Bloomberg and Goldman’s Blankfein were in the Cooper Union audience today for President Obama’s speech, no doubt smirking, and perhaps occasionally clapping, simultaneously. It’s hardly the first time they’ve been synchronized swimmers. But it may be the first time they’ve both been headed downstream.
When Bloomberg got the brainstorm in 2008 that the city couldn’t survive without him, it was Blankfein who helped organize the coup against the city charter. A co-chair of the New York City Partnership, Blankfein co-signed an open letter that appeared as an ad in the city’s dailies, declaring that the very financial crisis he and the boys provoked was the reason the city needed “continuity of great leadership.” The city’s most powerful business club, the Partnership was the driving force between the extension of term limits, and 25 of the 30 signatories on this open letter were members of its powerhouse board.
Blankfein’s current co-chair at the Partnership is Rupert Murdoch, whose Post has merged its editorial and news pages in a jihad against Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Carolyn Maloney and any New York representative who dares to favor regulating Wall Street recklessness.
Term limits was hardly the only time Bloomberg and Goldman have been joined at the hip. The mayor supported a $1.6 billion package of Liberty Bonds and tax breaks for the company’s new headquarters near Ground Zero, including promising $321 million more in aid if the state and city failed to meet certain deadlines in the development plan. The Daily News, which ordinarily cheerleads for the mayor, editorialized that Bloomberg was “taken to the cleaners” in this “downright foolhardy” deal.
Blankfein’s Goldman is charged with precisely the kind of fraud that has brought the wrath of the country down on Wall Street, and there is no reason why a mayor can’t read the SEC complaint and comment on it, giving due deference to whatever Goldman’s defense may be. Why should he?
Because he speaks for us, and as polls already show, outside the Post editorial board office, most New Yorkers and most Americans are appalled by this conduct. And most of us believe, aside from the Murdoch minions chasing ad revenue, that a regulated Street can still be a prosperous Street, indeed more reliably prosperous than the casino we’ve had for years.