Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Just in case you doubted that today’s political campaigns will look to cash in on absolutely anything, consider the fundraising pitch Mayor Bill de Blasio e-mailed Tuesday to thousands of his closest friends.
“Donald Trump has said and done a lot of things in his campaign for President that deserve condemnation. But I was surprised when Ted Cruz attacked him for having ‘New York values,’” begins the appeal for the mayor’s 2017 re-election bid.
“This wasn’t just an attack on The Donald — it was an attack on the 8.4 million men and women I’m proud to represent as Mayor.” The letter goes on to tell of how he works to carry out New York’s “real” values — “celebrating diversity, taking care of each other, and working to make New York a fairer city” — and how the recipient should kick in $10 or $15 or whatever.
This latest treacle from the mayor provides a strategic bookend to the “us-versus-them” manipulations of the distinguished senator from Texas.
As Cruz said, there’s money and media around here — along with all the social liberality and whatever else.
Three of the four most talked-about presidential candidates of the moment happen to have strong local ties. But those ties only show their connections, past and present, to different worlds within New York.
Sen. Bernard Sanders is an expatriate of middle-class Brooklyn who brought the accent with him to Vermont. Trump comes out of a privileged Queens enclave where his father’s real estate empire begat junior’s tabloid fame. Hillary Clinton migrated to Westchester from the White House to become senator here.
Bill Cunningham, a former Democratic official and early strategist for ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said: “Ted Cruz did what politicians around the country always do. The debates go on for two hours. Somebody’s got to say something that somebody in the country is going to be mad about.
“They all reach for their best lines to slay each other. It’s sound-bite hell.”
But while beating on New York is neither new or unique to this election cycle, said David Birdsell, dean of the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, Cruz’s was “a particularly nasty attack. It took really grotesque liberties with the sacrifices of New Yorkers on 9/11” and deepened political tensions, he said.
De Blasio and Cruz have “audiences that are deeply opposed to one another” and it will cost neither of them within their constituencies, he noted.
Unlike 2004 — when the Republican national convention in the city essentially used Ground Zero as an emotional backdrop to justify the Bush foreign policies — other places are more symbolic of this year’s issues, such as Flint, Mich.; San Bernadino, Calif.; the Mexican border, Syria, and Paris.
Generalizations about New York always seem to fall apart the moment you ask the people spouting them whether they are talking about Brownsville, Tottenville or Hicksville.
But don’t forget such statements, no matter how hollow, can help fundraising. Cynical? That’s electoral politics.