As 2008 draws to a close, New Yorkers may feel like they’re leaning into a blizzard of bad economic news—see above editorial. Some may feel the only bright spot is holiday shopping in a climate of “70 percent off” signs and salespeople who suddenly actually want to help. But as families gather for Chanuka and Christmas, there’s an extraordinarily wide range of things to be grateful for as we head into 2009.
No matter what your politics, the imminent departure of George W. Bush and his administration is cause for relief. Having launched a costly, continuing war, alienated most of our allies and presided over an economy of despair, the president leaves office with little to brag about. Now, even before Barack Obama has been sworn in, the world has again turned a welcoming eye toward America, Mr. Obama’s historic candidacy and victory having proven to the rest of the planet that a vast gulf separates the dreams and aspirations of the American people from the daily depredations of the Bush White House. The Observer was the first New York newspaper to endorse Mr. Obama in both the primary and general elections; the potential of his presidency is cause for optimism and faith in America’s tremendous resiliency.
New Yorkers can also be thankful we have in Mike Bloomberg a mayor who wisely chose not to spend all the funds available to the city, and instead set aside more than $3 billion when most other politicians would have drained the treasury dry in exchange for popularity. Prudent fiscal management is something that has historically been lacking in City Hall; Mr. Bloomberg’s decision to run for a third term will force the rest of the contenders to show that they, too, would be able to resist the temptation to spend now and pay later.
And a debt of thanks is owed to Governor David Paterson for his candor and wit and willingness to face up to the fiscal crisis he inherited, and for the grace with which he stepped into an office so thoroughly abused and degraded by his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer.
And finally, while much ink—and even more Web space—has been spilled bemoaning the state of the newspaper business of late, The Observer spent 2008 further extending our reach into New York, offering readers a burgeoning daily Web site covering politics, fashion, society, culture and nightlife, while hosting public events and private sit-down discussions between our reporters and some of the city’s most powerful public figures. And so we close out 2008 by offering our thanks and best wishes to our readers and advertisers, who share with us the grand, irreplaceable adventure that is New York City.