Hillary Clinton as New York City mayor?
Imagine the fun:
City building inspectors start to show up daily at Trump Tower, where they find a wobbly beam here, a missing smoke detector there, outdated wiring all over the place. City health inspectors fan out through Trump’s hotels, writing citations for clogged drains in the kitchens and expired milk in the minibars.
The potholes near his properties go unfilled. Those neighborhoods are the last to be plowed. There’s a problem with the flow of water to his Bronx golf course, whose greens are suddenly brown. And the Russian Consulate keeps experiencing power failures. It’s the darnedest thing. Clinton vows to look into it, just as soon as she returns from the Hamptons.
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She makes Alec Baldwin her cultural affairs commissioner, Alicia Machado the head of the city’s office of food policy. She invites the Rockettes to perform at every official city event. Without any hand-wringing, all of them accept.
And she’s the belle of the international ball. When foreign dignitaries cycle through the United Nations, they make sure to drop by City Hall, especially because she was once the country’s secretary of state. She winds up meeting with some of them more often than Trump does. He handles this as any grown-up in a position of extraordinary responsibility would, with crack-of-dawn tweets about what a lumpy loser Angela Merkel is and where he places her on a scale of 1 to Melania.
“Sad!” he fumes, but Clinton couldn’t be happier. His hometown is her fief. She’s the boss of him whenever he’s in the Big Apple, and he’s in the Big Apple a whole lot.
I’m fantasizing, yes, but with a glimmer of encouragement. On Wednesday Newsmax, a conservative outlet, reported that Democrats who couldn’t abide the city’s current mayor, Bill de Blasio, were courting Clinton to run against him in a Democratic primary this year and deny him a second term. The Times weighed in on Thursday, noting that speculation about a Clinton candidacy had been “bubbling up for weeks” and was intensifying.
Neither source actually suggested that she’d follow through with this, and several prominent, well-connected Democrats assure me that it won’t happen. So does my gut. Lofty as the perch of New York City mayor is, it’s still a big comedown from what she had in her sights – twice. By campaigning for it, she’d risk coming off as a has-been hankering for any old place at the table.
And if she lost? Yikes. She’d be one of the starkest cases of dashed hopes and downward mobility in modern American politics.
But she’d almost certainly beat de Blasio, and you have to admit that the idea of a Clinton mayoralty is genius. It’s revenge, redemption and a chance for New Yorkers to be rescued from his shortcomings all in one.
Also, Clinton can’t spend the rest of her days in hiding and on nature walks. The woods around Chappaqua, New York, are lovely, dark and deep, but really. No one ever mistook her for a forest nymph. She’s a creature of pavement, pantsuits and politics. Shouldn’t she get back to all three?
De Blasio’s first term has been a turbulent mix of successes and frustrations. He delivered on his promise of universal prekindergarten for children in New York, and he put plans for affordable housing in motion. But to live here, as I do, is to notice deteriorations since the end of Mike Bloomberg’s administration: public spaces that seem dirtier, subways that feel more packed, an apparent rise in the number of homeless people on the streets.
De Blasio and aides of his are under investigation for their fundraising activities, with grand jury decisions expected soon. Any indictments could open the door to several Democrats who have eyed the 2017 mayor’s race and so far balked at jumping into it.
But Clinton has assets that they don’t: the name recognition, donors and intense popularity among New Yorkers to nullify de Blasio’s strengths, no matter his legal fate. In the presidential election, 79 percent of New Yorkers voted for her over Trump.
That she isn’t actually a resident of the city doesn’t matter, so long as she fixed that by the time voters headed to the polls. And she might be a terrific mayor. Bloomberg evidently thought so: Back when his 12 years in City Hall were ending, he tried to persuade her to succeed him. She weds a technocrat’s love of details with an idealist’s expansive gaze, befitting an assignment with concrete local responsibilities and ceremonial obligations that transcend New York.
She’d get to shatter a glass ceiling: New York has not yet had a female mayor.
Besides, there are so many scores she could settle, so many ways she could meddle. In vanquishing de Blasio, she’d be punishing someone whose endorsement of her in last year’s Democratic presidential primary struck many Democrats as late and lackluster.
She’d get back at Anthony Weiner, whose uncontrolled lust and unconcealed loins indirectly led to the FBI director James Comey’s disrupting the final weeks of her presidential campaign. Weiner once sought the mayoralty himself. Now he’d watch as his estranged wife, Huma Abedin, waltzed into and out of Gracie Mansion at Clinton’s side, not his.
Clinton would have a special role in the 2020 contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, because New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, is obviously angling for it. One of his favorite gubernatorial sports has been trying to crush de Blasio like a cockroach, but he’d have to play nice with her, given her political weight. How highly and readily she praised him would be a factor in his fate, and that would give her a leverage with the state that de Blasio doesn’t have.
She’d be the mayor of the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, who lives in Brooklyn. So she’d be able to jockey for public attention with a showboat who has never exactly been a bosom buddy.
But above all there’d be the torturing of Trump, who so gleefully tortures his own political foes and even some of his political friends. (Just ask Chris Christie.) Within a few months of her inauguration, the prevalence of his name on high-rises in Manhattan would pale next to the omnipresence of her face on billboards in all five boroughs.
The city’s Mexican Day Parade would be rerouted, from Madison Avenue over to Fifth, right past Trump Tower. A new city zoning experiment would locate detention centers in the strangest places. And in the city’s libraries, “The Art of the Deal” would be impossible to find, while upfront, on vivid display, there’d be copies galore of “It Takes a Village” and “Hard Choices.”
Some choices aren’t hard at all. Run, Hillary, run.