The Bloomberg Backlash
"What is it about Michael Bloomberg that infuriates people as far away as Colorado?", the New York Sun asks today:
Mayor Bloomberg became an issue in Colorado because he personally invested $350,000 to defeat the recall. Something like $3 million was invested by left-wing groups in an attempt to salvage the careers of the two politicians. “It’s our election,” the New York Times quoted one voter as saying, “It’s not D.C. It’s not New York. It’s us.” The National Rifle Association, which also spent heavily in the recall, put out a statement pointing its finger at Bloomberg. The voters’ message, it said, was that the job of officials was to “to defend our rights and freedoms and that they are accountable to their constituents – not the dollars or social engineering agendas of anti-gun billionaires.”
What is it about Michael Bloomberg that infuriates people as far away as Colorado? It happens that we have a theory about this. It’s not that the mayor is so all-fired liberal or weird or even left-wing; he’s none of those things. It’s not even that background checks or limits on high-volume clips are all that radical. The thing that stands out about Mr. Bloomberg is the gun control regime he countenances in his own city. Never mind big ammunition clips. One can’t get a permit to carry even a single-shot pistol in New York City. Never mind background checks. Mother Theresa couldn’t get a permit to carry even the daintiest derringer in New York.
Our favorite example is Craig Whitney. He lives at Brooklyn and is now retired from the New York Times, where he exercised his First Amendment rights every day without once needing a permit. A Vietnam veteran who was trained to carry a pistol in the Navy, he is so irked that he needs — and can’t get — a permit to exercise his Second Amendment rights that he’s written a whole book about it. Coloradans are a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. A sizable share of them are prepared to countenance some regulation of guns. But they can see where Mr. Bloomberg is going. And they don’t want to go there. They are not prepared to gainsay the Second Amendment entirely.
No wonder it’s being called the Bloomberg Backlash. The intriguing question is whether it could happen — or is already happening — here in the mayor's home town. In the primary election this week, the most left-wing candidate, William De Blasio, floored the political establishment with the surge that appears likely to have secured him the top of the Democratic ticket in the campaign for the general election in November. He did it by contrasting himself with the other contenders and running as the anti-Bloomberg.
So much so that Reason is dubbing De Blasio "the Obama of New York," a comparison that bodes ominously for New York's future:
De Blasio’s signature policy proposal is an income tax increase for New York City residents who earn more than $500,000 a year, with the proceeds directed to public education. President Obama ran on asking “millionaires and billionaires” to pay higher taxes, in part to fund his Obamacare subsidies for health insurance.
But de Blasio likes health care spending, too. He’s been fighting to keep city hospitals open, even if there’s insufficient patient demand to support them. And Obama likes education spending, too; he has ramped up Pell Grant spending and called in a State of the Union speech for exactly the expanded pre-kindergarten programs that de Blasio is campaigning to bring to New York.
De Blasio has backed an increased minimum wage at the local level, just as President Obama has supported one nationally. De Blasio has used his teenaged son in a campaign commercial against the New York Police Department’s “stop, question, and frisk,” tactics, while President Obama famously said, after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
De Blasio and Obama both have scant private-sector experience, which may account for their tendency to see successful businesspeople as cows to be milked for the maximum possible tax revenue. Obama’s ambitions have been somewhat limited by Republicans in Congress, while de Blasio, if he wins the primary and the general election that follows, will be constrained, at least somewhat, by Republicans and more conservative Democrats in Albany.
The final constraint on a Mayor de Blasio, however, won’t be merely some other politicians in Albany; it will be the reality that a tax, spend, polarize, and regulate approach to government inevitably confronts. It’s wasteful, it’s expensive, it doesn’t function particularly well, it breeds corruption and resentment, and eventually the people who are being taxed to excess decide to stop participating, either by moving or by restructuring their affairs so as to generate less taxable revenue (and usually fewer jobs, too).
President Obama does have some tools de Blasio will lack, among them the ability to print money and the ability to conduct foreign policy in a way that distracts from domestic problems. If de Blasio governs as he has campaigned, though, don’t be surprised if in a few years he finds himself wishing he could ask the City Council for the authority to attack New Jersey.
When Manhattan returns to its feral 1970s state, perhaps MSNBC will blame it all on conservatives and libertarians, as they recently did to "explain" why Detroit went from a functional city in the mid-1960s to his pitiful state today, despite a half-century of exclusively leftwing governance.
In the meantime, Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary writes that at least for now, "The Gun Control Moment Passes" -- though as he notes, the anti-Constitutionalists will be back yet again; it's only a matter of time:
But no matter how often he waved the bloody shirt of Newtown in order to shame members of the House and Senate into passing laws that would have done nothing to avert that massacre, there was no real appetite in either chamber for his proposals.
While the NRA took its lumps in the months after Newtown, the group actually experienced a surge in membership and support that more than compensated for the drubbing they got in the mainstream press. Though liberals, including the president, falsely asserted that NRA support was merely the function of donations from gun manufacturers, it remained something that the anti-gun groups were not: a genuine grass-roots organization that could generate intense activity from its members when they were called upon.
That’s why the Colorado votes were so important. They showed that even when outgunned by outside money, gun-rights advocates have an ace in the hole that Bloomberg can’t match: passionate supporters on the ground who can turn out and vote.
I doubt we’ve heard the last of Obama and his liberal supporters on this issue. They will return to it, as they always do, anytime a crime that can generate unthinking outrage about guns is committed. But media hype is never a match for a public determined not be stripped of their constitutional rights. The anti-gun tide that was supposed to sweep away the NRA has instead swept away two Democrats. Don’t bet that they will be the last to lose their seats because they believed Obama when he said the NRA was whipped.
Today, the Washington Post notes, "It’s not every day that you see an incumbent recalled from office, let alone someone as high-profile as a state Senate president. The message the defeat of Morse and Giron sends to legislators all across the country is unmistakable: If you are thinking about pushing for new gun-control laws, you could face swift consequences.”
To which Glenn Reynolds replies, "Well, when you try to deny people’s civil rights, there should be swift consequences."
Which reminds me that I should embed a link to Twitchy's take on Sarah Silverman starring in a "Funny or Die" video mock-professing the cute if reactionary leftist comedienne's support of a "black NRA" -- and the brilliant rebuttal the following day by black NRA spokesman Colion Noir.
As we and other pundits on the right have noted, for the racial left, it's always 1963 -- "Otherwise they’d have to ask some tough questions — of themselves," the Professor wrote in late July.
Such as why Democrats like Silverman are once again taking the side of Democratic National Committee member Bull Connor by opposing the Second Amendment when it comes to African-Americans.