Even without reading the stories on Bill de Blasio’s and Joe Lhota’s families, you can see from the photos just how the New York mayoral race is playing out.
The timing and the lead photos of a New York magazine cover story, “Meet the de Blasios,” and a New York Post three-page spread, “Livin’ La Vida Lhota,” are strikingly similar: both came out yesterday, ten days before the election, and both feature the candidate warmly embracing his all-smiles family in a classical pyramidal composition—the wives and kids forming gentle slopes that lead to the paterfamilias at the peak.
The de Blasio family glows in light. In fact, they all but dissolve into it, fading into the white background, as if floating in heaven. NY mag airbrushed in the halo effect to suggest that expectations of NYC’s future first family may be running too high; the cover photo is captioned, “Their holiday card is going to be great. Then what?”
But there’s nothing airbrushed about the tangle of arms and hands holding each other: the de Blasio family is tight, as united, it seems, as they are racially diverse. The photo also speaks to a diversity of heights. At 6 foot 5, Bill normally towers over the petite Chirlane McCray, his wife, but here he’s bending down into his family, minimizing any separateness, holding them together—as, the picture implies, he would hold together the ethnic, economic and borough-bickering diversity of New York City.
That de Blasio is a skyscraper among six- and eight-floor buildings is more evident in photos of him next to the very short Mayor Bloomberg, the mid-sized Lhota, and the tall Obama. De Blasio’s height, I think, appeals to voters—who doesn’t feel a little more protected by a giant? It might be an unfair advantage, but de Blasio’s physical presence makes Lhota’s warnings that he’d be soft on crime even harder to believe.