Imagine an unlikely scenario: Bill de Blasio becomes the Democratic nominee against President Donald Trump.
This would prompt the inevitable comparisons of their conduct in public office.
At first glance they come off as partisan and ideological opposites. "Progressive" versus "nationalist." Blue city versus red state. Activist governance versus deregulation. Trickle-down versus tax-the-rich. And so on.
Surprisingly, there are stylistic similarities too. And these have nothing to do with the coincidence of German-American patrimony and everything to do with the banalities of American politicians.
Both men brought family members into the halls of public power.
Trump has his son-in-law and daughter Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who get involved in activities as far away as the Middle East. Kushner's close relations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for one, have generated questions.
De Blasio's spouse Chirlane McCray has exercised clout as an adviser from the start. She runs ThriveNYC, a plan to overhaul the city's mental health and substance abuse services that is drawing questions about its management.
McCray has expressed interest in running for public office in 2021 when de Blasio's second and final mayoral term ends. As for future office, Trump's oldest son Donald Jr. told Bloomberg News last month he’s focused on getting “the country back on track,” but “as for the future, I never want to rule it out.”
De Blasio and Trump glide together these days on fair economic winds. In both cases, warnings from fiscal conservatives that they will leave behind gaping deficits due to lush spending generally go unheeded.
As major public figures in New York, both men have key ties to real estate. Trump inherited it and bought and sold it. De Blasio saw massive development on his watch and got campaign dollars from the industry that remains dominant in New York.
Both draw doubts about their work habits.
De Blasio's middle-of-the-workday trips to the gym in Brooklyn and tardy attendance at public events created an unflattering caricature, spawning wisecracks that he might as well run for president since he isn't exactly burning it at both ends at City Hall.
Trump's "executive time" gives that a run for the money. This past weekend he made his 187th visit to one of his 17 golf clubs since becoming president, according to Golf News Net. His tweeting and television habits also are well known.
Then there are the grandiose claims of accomplishment — a source of amusement or annoyance depending who hears them.
Last September at the UN, the president provoked outright giggling at the General Assembly when he declared: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any other administration in history.”
De Blasio has his own trumpet to play. A sample news release headline: "Historic and transformative plan will lift up all children and aggressively tackle inequality."
All over government these days, success is proclaimed before results are in. It's as if there is a self-esteem movement for politicians known as #MeFirst.
News coverage? Both seem to regard all but their fondest friends in media as foes to be fended off. One cries "fake news" while the other begins a more proper news conference reprimand, "With all due respect … "
For these qualities, both men are far from unique in public life. But in a polarized nation, at least they share this bit of common ground.