ON MESSAGE: No Hitting, Please

“Well, I’m not going to say anything negative about Michael Bloomberg. I’m just talking positively about Bill Thompson. That’s what I’ve always done.”
— Chuck Schumer

Really, that’s what you’ve always done, Chuck? Like last fall, when you not only said positive things about Barack Obama, but also publicly agitated for him to hit John McCain “hard”?

As endorsements go, Mr. Schumer’s formal declaration of support for Mr. Thompson this week is of the gun-to-the-head variety. New York’s senior senator, like many Democrats, enjoys a productive working relationship with Mr. Bloomberg and clearly would have no qualms about the mayor serving for another four years. He might even prefer that to be the case.

But there’s no point in saying so publicly. For one thing, Mr. Bloomberg really doesn’t need the help. Sure, an endorsement from Mr. Schumer would make waves and further cement the impression that the mayor is a shoo-in for another term, but he’s far enough ahead in the polls that he can survive just fine without it. It’s not like this is a neck-and-neck contest where one surprise move could make the difference.

It makes more sense for Mr. Schumer to play the loyal Democrat. After all, he wouldn’t mind being Senate majority leader someday, maybe soon, so the last thing he wants is a bunch of angry Democrats from his home state shouting about his snub of Mr. Thompson (in favor of a free-spending plutocrat, no less). Remember how long that 1994 Cuomo endorsement haunted Rudy?

All he’s really doing is saying some nice, generic things about Mr. Thompson. The key is that he’s not giving Mr. Bloomberg the McCain treatment. Now that would be news.

ON MESSAGE: No Hitting, Please