The man who has been routinely panned as the worst big city mayor in America has his eyes on a new gig: President of the United States.
Yep, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the local politician who back in the spring of 2017, narrowly escaped federal indictment on corruption charges of pay-to-play by a technicality that still has many New Yorkers scratching their heads, is headed to New Hampshire on Friday to test the waters for a 2020 presidential run. And by president, I am referring to President of the United States—the job once held by Lincoln, Kennedy, Reagan and Obama.
De Blasio—the same guy who New York Post columnist Maureen Callahan has described as “arrogant, short on details, full of big-sky ideas, promoting himself as the boldest of progressives among otherwise milquetoast Democrats”—is apparently giving serious consideration to joining an ever-growing pool of contenders with absolutely no shot at winning the Democratic nomination. The spectacle seems to be veering in the direction of a season of Desperate Housewives: America Edition, much more than becoming a national platform to foster a serious, public debate about the direction of one of the country’s two major political parties.
If de Blasio ultimately joins the haberdashery of hats already in the ring and decides to jump into the 2020 race, the Democratic primaries will have officially jumped the shark.
Ever since Fonzie accepted a bet to literally waterski off of a ramp over a confined shark on a 1977 episode of Happy Days, the term ‘jump the shark’ has come to mean the moment in which something that was once popular is now grasping for purpose, and the ridiculous stunts it conjures up in an attempt to regain that relevance only serve to highlight and reinforce its utter irrelevance.
Is that what the Democratic Party has come to in an age when it’s competing against a reality television star? If so, then the Dems have their man in Bill de Blasio.
Veteran political consultant Hank Sheinkopf thinks that a de Blasio run is a suicide mission.
“The only way for de Blasio to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is for him to take the Acela to Union Station in D.C. and then grab a cab,” said the New York-based strategist who has advised on multiple high-stakes political campaigns across the globe. “He should save his money and buy a house. The national press corps has already gone to work on him. Time to take the hint. Homelessness. NYCHA. He will get drilled.”
Brad Tusk, a former campaign manager for former New York City mayor and potential 2020 presidential contender Michael Bloomberg echoed Sheinkopf’s assessment of de Blasio’s chances on the national stage.
“There’s no argument for his candidacy. None of his supporters in New York City can do much to help him nationally. His relationship with the New York City press corps is terrible, so that’s not going to help him. Other than pre-K, he doesn’t have much of a record to talk about. And why would any progressive choose him over candidates like Warren and Sanders? He could literally get less than one percent of the vote in the early primaries.”
The problem with a de Blasio candidacy is that as more utterly unelectable—and in the case of de Blasio, deeply flawed—candidates join the fray, the more oxygen they will suck out from the few candidates who might have a legitimate shot of winning the primary and taking on and beating Donald Trump in 2020.
And with the looming specter of a Howard Schultz independent presidential run being bandied about, which could trigger a Ralph Nader spoiler effect on the national election, Democrats need to get serious about getting their message straight, choosing their candidate and hitting the campaign trail hard. Comedic sideshows like de Blasio are, at best, distractions from the main stage, and at worst, convey to the American public that Democrats are about as equipped to govern the country as the A-Team currently occupying the West Wing.
There is no doubt about it: a de Blasio presidential run would serve no other purpose than taking a delusional man’s ego and pumping it full of steroids. As Vanity Fair pointed out earlier this week, Gotham’s mayor is just about as popular in New York City as Trump—with approval ratings in the low 40s—and that is saying something in a town where Democrats outnumber Republicans seven-to-one.
“A Bill de Blasio presidential run would be like putting wheels on a dumpster fire and rolling it across state lines,” Fox News analyst Ethan Bearman told Observer. “I suppose most New Yorkers would be happy that Hizzoner would be spending less time in the city, but that’s about the only positive I can think of. If he wants to really help his party, he should stay put. When clowns like de Blasio jump into the fray, it just devalues the whole nomination process and makes the whole thing look more circus-like.”
Bearman is actually on to something.
Campaigns always need a good theme song, and if de Blasio’s trips up to New Hampshire become a regular thing, he might very well have the perfect tune to get the crowds going: Judy Collins’ 1975 hit Send in the Clowns.
Or, in a nod to jumping the shark, he could opt for the Happy Days’ theme song.