Mayor de Blasio is heading off to Italy with his family for a 10-day vacation. Ordinarily this would not qualify as news—after all, even mayors take vacations, right?
Well, not lately. Rudy Giuliani, who threw shade on Mr. de Blasio for flying the coop, seemed to believe that New York would sink into the harbor if he dared to relax his oversight, even for a day. Mike Bloomberg also wasn’t inclined to recline, although there were those mysterious weekend jaunts to parts unknown.
Mr. de Blasio has chosen to resist the siren call of the 24/7 office, no small act of humility. Hanging a 21st century equivalent of a “Gone Fishing” sign outside Gracie Mansion is, after all, a tacit acknowledgement that the rest of us can get by for a few days without a mayor in residence. There are more than a few high-powered New Yorkers—in public as well as private life—who might take notice of the mayor’s priorities. Maybe R&R isn’t just for the weak after all?
Critics already have had reason to question the mayor’s timing, suggesting that Mr. de Blasio should have reassessed his plans as a Long Island Railroad strike loomed. While a strike certainly will pose difficulties for suburban commuters, it’s hard to know why the mayor’s presence would be necessary—unless, of course, he could persuade unions to accept demands that new workers contribute more to their pension and benefits packages. Not very likely.
Historically, New York’s chief executives have not been so reluctant to leave their cares behind—what’s more, they did so without the tether of cell phones and email. Ed Koch was particularly fond of long getaways, which did not always work to his advantage. He was in Spain in 1982, when The New York Post launched a campaign to persuade Mr. Koch to run for governor. He did just that, and lost. Maybe he should have stayed home. And Gov. Chris Christie was filleted when photos of him frolicking in Disneyworld surfaced as New Jersey dug itself out of a paralyzing December 2010 snow storm (Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno was vacationing in Mexico at the same time.)
Mr. de Blasio deserves a few days away, and not simply because he has a highly demanding job. He is, remember, a dad—a dad whose children are getting older and that much closer to leaving the nest. He wants to show those children the canals of Venice and the glory that was Rome. Can any sensible person really object to that?
Pack your bags, Your Honor. Wear comfortable shoes, bring along a reliable guidebook, take a dip in the Adriatic, soak up the atmosphere on the Amalfi coast, and have a double latte in the Piazza San Marco.
But most of all, cherish the time with your children. Years from now, they’ll remember that once upon a time, their dad the mayor set aside 10 days so they could be just another American family exploring the Old World.
New York will be here when you return, and within a day or so it’ll be like you never left. Which may or may not be a good thing.