The Bad Old Days: Returning Soon to a Gotham City Near You

In the conclusion to his week-long series on "The Fate of New York," Jay Nordlinger has some amusing anecdotes regarding the nanny-isms of soon-to-be-departing Mayor Bloomberg (including a great one involving Pat Buckley asking Bloomberg his "permission" to smoke in her home during an NR dinner Bloomberg sat in on). Bloomberg's excesses -- and there are many -- come with his willingness to continue the crime fighting initiatives put in place by Rudy Giuliani. Programs that may very well become highly diluted, if not scrapped entirely by Bloomberg's likely successor:

It appears that New Yorkers will elect, as our next mayor, the Democratic nominee, Bill de Blasio. He is a true-believing leftist. A supporter of the Communists in Latin America. The whole nine yards.

One reason they will elect him, I think, is that they have no memory of the bad old days. And they have no idea what it took to turn New York into the delight it is today — the delight it has been for 20 years or so.

As Myron says, New York is “always a city of newcomers.” How many voters moved here during the Rudy-Bloomy golden age? Lots, no doubt. They probably think the state of harmony is normal.

Other New Yorkers know better. And some people think that New Yorkers at large will never go back — will never again “tolerate the intolerable,” to use Norman Podhoretz’s phrase. They have seen the lights of Paree: a safe, livable, lovable New York. And they won’t go back to the farm.

I don’t believe it. People can be convinced to tolerate the intolerable. Convinced they have to. After all, it happened before.

And everything Giuliani and Bloomberg have done is reversible. None of their gains is permanent. The barbarians are always at the gate. They are never vanquished, permanently. They may be kept at bay for a while — but they wait to be allowed back in.

What can reverse our reign of peace? A mayor who submits to racial bullying. A government that is complacent, inattentive — that lets New York’s guard down. “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.”

There was once a common sign in New York. People put it in their cars, when they left them on the street: “No Radio.” It was a sign of helplessness and hopelessness. As Commissioner Kelly remarked, it said, Don’t break into my car. The one behind me, maybe, or the one in front of me. But not mine, pretty please.

How pathetic. And how utterly accepted it was. I have never seen, personally, a “No Radio” sign. Ever. I moved here in 1998, remember — well into the Giuliani renaissance. Will that sign come back? (I don’t know if cars have radios anymore — as they did pre-Giuliani. But they must have something.)

I saw those signs; I was at NYU in the late 1980s. They could well be returning in the next few years.

Nordlinger concludes:

I imagine that, if things turn horrible and desperate again, people will turn, once more, to a Rudy — eventually. But it should not have to take that. You could have harmony (relative harmony) all the time, if you wanted to. In a democracy, the people really do rule.

Insert Ed Koch quote here.