Joe Lhota seemed to transport the city back to the 1950s this week, accusing his Democratic opponent, Bill de Blasio, of deploying strategies “directly out of the Marxist playbook.”
By making the charge, Mr. Lhota is operating from another playbook: His old boss’s.
In the late 90s, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani–under whom Mr. Lhota served as budget director and deputy mayor–constantly made similar allegations, accusing those who opposed him of subscribing to dangerous, leftist ideologies, according to reports from the time.
“A decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall signaled the swift collapse of communism’s Evil Empire, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is still darkly wary of Marxist influence in the nooks and crannies of the city,” the New York Times wrote in a 1999 piece entitled “Giuliani’s Hunt for Red Menaces.” Mr. Giuliani reportedly “discerned a sinister Marxist tinge to a wide variety of enemies, from the paradoxically well-organized anarchists who sacked a Starbucks in Seattle to the gardeners who plant flowers in the city’s vacant lots.”
In one such instance, Mr. Giuliani, on the heels of reaching a tentative deal to prevent a strike by the Transport Workers Union, told those gathered at a City Hall press conference that, “a week ago I said that Marxism unfortunately is still alive in parts of New York City even in the latter part of this century even though it’s been disgraced all over the world.”
In another instance, Mr. Giuliani suggested that members of a group concerned about the city’s growing reliance on private funding to maintain city parks had been influenced by “a very, very extreme radical political outlook on the world.”
“It probably comes out of spending some time in school in the 40’s or 50’s studying Marxism or something,” he said, according to the paper.
When Mr. Giuliani criticized Seattle’s anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations, he further bemoaned “the remaining damage that Marxism has done to the thinking of people.” Asked later about his remarks, the former mayor said the comments had to do with “the whole notion of class warfare, which really comes out of the teaching of Karl Marx, trying to divide people into different classes.”
The charges continued as Mr. Giuliani was running for president in 2008, when he labeled the Democratic candidates’ health care plans “heavily influenced by Marxism,” according to the New York Post.
Asked about the similarities between Mr. Lhota’s remarks and Mr. Gliuliani’s, Lhota campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud said the candidate couldn’t recall his boss’s anti-Marxist rhetoric.
“He has no recollection of that,” she said.
But Baruch College professor Doug Muzzio said the strategy reminded him very much of Mr. Giuliani.
“It’s part of the playbook. It’s the fear mongering and the aliens are going to take over,” Mr. Muzzio explained, slamming the tactic as “dumb” and ineffective. “He shouldn’t be using it at all.”