Bill de Blasio speaks with potential voters on July 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Bill Keller, the former executive editor of The New York Times, wrote an op-ed today saying he found it “surprising” that the Democrat candidate for NYC mayor, might not be a kumbaya liberal after all. After weeks of being called a communist, it’s almost refreshing that Bill de Blasio is now being hit with only dull and tiresome stereotypes.
“I was struck,” Keller writes of de Blasio, “that his critique is not just a liberal’s reflexive disdain for a plutocrat; it is a considered analysis of the art of governing.” After damning de Blasio with faint praise, Keller undamns a little:
He’s says that people who imagine him waiting patiently for consensus to coalesce, kumbaya, will discover that he can bring down the gavel. “You delegate where you can, you build consensus where you can,” he said. “But there will be plenty of occasions where there will be no time for that option and you have to be the decision-maker and you have to be fast about it.”
“I think some people mistake the stylistic for the strategic,” de Blasio explained, as he has before when asked if he can lead a city bred on tough, bombastic and/or pushy mayors, like Koch, Giuliani, Bloomberg. “I don’t feel the need to have a brash personality.”
Certainly some of Keller’s concern is understandable: de Blasio’s Republican opponent Joe Lhota, as a former deputy mayor and head of the MTA, has more managerial chops than de Blasio, who’s focused more on political activism and community organizing both in and out of government.
But like many in the media, Keller is one of those people who repeatedly mistake the stylistic for the strategic; and his need for reassurance that a liberal can be decisive seems to stem from his own, self-admitted fear of being seen as a liberal wimp. (You might recall that Keller wrote a mini-culpa a couple years ago explaining why, when he headed up the Times, he rah-rahed the paper to support the invasion of Iraq. He and other “liberals hawks,” he wrote, “were a little drugged by testosterone. And maybe a little too pleased with ourselves for standing up to evil and defying the caricature of liberals as, to borrow a phrase from those days, brie-eating surrender monkeys.”)