Hours after the deadliest school shooting in American history took place early yesterday – leaving 32 victims plus the gunman dead after a rampage at Virginia Tech — Mayor Bloomberg still hadn’t so much as released a statement on the matter. And as far as I know, he still hasn’t addressed it publicly as of this morning.
It’s not necessarily the New York mayor’s job to make pronouncements about a shooting in Virginia, but Bloomberg’s restraint is at least mildly surprising given the amount of time and effort he’s spent calling local and national attention to the issue of illegal gun violence. And given what a natural catalyst this massacre is going to be for a renewed national debate about guns, his silence is also tough to reconcile with the whole Bloomberg ’08 narrative some of us have been entertaining recently. (The Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani campaigns, by contrast, quickly issued press releases commenting on the shooting.)
One explanation, offered by consultant Hank Sheinkopf, is simply that the mayor is waiting for things to calm down in order to avoid the appearance of politicizing the deaths of dozens of students.
“The mayor’s got to be exceptionally careful,” he said. “It cannot look like he is stepping on the tragedy. He’s got to wait for it to clear a little bit before he steps up and talks about guns. But ultimately he will be able to use this as an example of what he’s been talking about. Not today. Or tomorrow. He’s got to let this clear.”
— Azi Paybarah