I had forgotten what a pleasure it was to read such clear and pointed prose from a master writer. Also I have to compliment the NY Daily News for including some leftist views. I guess they realize it's also good business.
Here's a line from Doctorow's op ed that caught my eye:
[McCain], in his cynical choice of a running mate displayed a contempt for the citizenry that verges on nihilism...
Yes, we've seen plenty of nihilism over the last 8 years. Readers will be familiar with the argument in this space that it's been all nihilism all the time, with the 9/11 terror attacks as exhibit #1.
And on the same theme:
Is it fair to place a municipal matter in a national setting? I think it is. The imperial arrogance of the White House - its secrecy, its mendacity, its subversion of the Constitution - has created a culture of faux democracy.
Just two points that Doctorow leaves out, the first not mentioned anywhere I've seen so far: Bloomberg's distaste, shall we say, for public education. The biggest disaster of a third term will be the consolidation of his public school depradations. He and Chancellor Joel Klein have done everything they could under the circumstances to undermine public education, with their brutal testing and grading programs, their arbitrary decisions, their constant reorgainizations. As part of their attack, they have shut out input from parents, and have it would seem deliberately thrown millions and tens of millions (and more?) down the toilet in no bid contracts to outside consultants. Who knows how many more crimes would be revealed by those who have been their victims?
The other obvious point which Doctorow didn't have time to mention is the natural corruption that seeps in willy nilly to virtually all regimes that go on at length.
NY Daily News
Why two terms is enough for Mayor Mike Bloomberg
BY E.L. DOCTOROW
Sunday, October 12th 2008, 4:00 AM
Mayor Bloomberg wants another term. He's been a good mayor and perhaps we should give it to him. Not that he's asking us: We've been snookered - we who have in two mass participatory plebiscites expressed our wishes for a two-term limit. He's done an end-around to the City Council.
It's hard to believe Council members would vote against a measure that would allow them to extend their own terms of office. All they have to do is raise their hands when the appropriate bill is introduced and, presto, from 26 to 50 "ayes" will have superseded the emphatic votes of a city's population.
Of course there will be a campaign and presumably the voters will then decide if Bloomberg should be elected for a third term. On the other hand, no one who runs against him will have $80 million of discretionary income to run with. So that's a problem.
The mayor has intended to have another four years in office for some time. His rationale now is the economic crisis that has cut like a scythe across the land and, incidentally, frightened many influential people in this city into backing his move. They will say, correctly, that he is possessed of a superb business mind, that he understands the complexities of city government, and that if anyone can see the city through this economic crisis, he can. They will also say that he has been a good and fair mayor, and that he has run the city wisely and well. I am happy to agree. He has made one or two mistakes - his Police Department's arrest of some 1,800 protesters, and of people just standing around, during the Republican convention of 2004, seemed a graceless effort to quash peaceable dissent. And then there was the proposed football stadium in Manhattan. Over all, though, he has done well, and with a calm and friendly personal style that is a marked improvement over the dispiriting authoritarian tendencies of his predecessor.
But after eight years of a national administration's monumental indifference to the rule of law, this is not the time to chip away another chunk of the tablets of our democracy. Is it fair to place a municipal matter in a national setting? I think it is. The imperial arrogance of the White House - its secrecy, its mendacity, its subversion of the Constitution - has created a culture of faux democracy.
Surely no honest public figure who loves this country would want to further that culture. However reasonable and practical it would seem to give Bloomberg his wish for another term, in the context of a national election, in which the Republican candidate has, in his cynical choice of a running mate displayed a contempt for the citizenry that verges on nihilism, the mayor of our greatest city has the opportunity to proclaim his belief in the primacy of the electorate by accepting the will of the people and stepping down.
When politicians leave office, they set about writing their memoirs. If the mayor opted for this I would be happy to recommend a top editor to see him through the process. But that would not offer him the opportunity as a private citizen to put to use his considerable knowledge of the workings of our city.
So here is my suggestion: By virtue of his successful tenure, and of the good will and the respect he has earned, he has the power to convene the great sources of private wealth in this city, along with its enormous intellectual resources, to create a synergetic social organization designed to solve problems and fund the solutions on the model of President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative - a Bloomberg Municipal Initiative, combining ideas and investment to lift the boroughs' struggling populations, and to do for the city's social services, its educational needs, and its infrastructure, what the city may, for a while, be unable to do for itself.
If the mayor has in mind a future in politics, nothing is more likely to give him a national platform. And there will always be time to write his memoirs.
Doctorow is the author of "Ragtime," "Billy Bathgate" and "The March," among other novels. He lives in Manhattan.