WASHINGTON -- Apparently New York City's Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg whiles away his last hours in the mayor's palace daydreaming. He has been mayor for almost three terms and though his mayorship may not have been as heroic or even as effective as that of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, it has at least kept the city up to Mayor Giuliani's standards of cleanliness, law and order, and an approximation of sense of financial rectitude. So if Bloomberg is no Rudy Giuliani, at least he has done OK up until now.
Now his daydreams are taking on the air of delusion. He apparently longs for the perfect gesture with which to festoon his legacy. Health for all! An end to guns for everyone, except the cops! No more violence! Maybe he even plans a campaign against spitting in public. If that last daydream plays well with the public relations team he has hired to ensure his fame for the ages, he will probably call a press conference and admonish us all to avoid public spitting. Possibly the citizenry will be advised to carry little cups or doggy bags. The mayor and his team think of everything.
Bloomberg is intent on leaving a memorable legacy. He has rumbled on against the Second Amendment, against trans-fats, against salt and sugar consumption, against obesity, and -- for years -- against tobacco, even pipes, even cigars, even the tobacco that one chews. He has taken extraordinary action against this substance, causing tobacco to be more expensive in New York City than anywhere else in America, banning it from public places such as restaurants, parks, even beaches, leaving cigarette smokers to languish on chill streets like the homeless only more reviled. Bloomberg tried to ban sugary drinks from being served in containers larger than sixteen ounces, but a state judge who had apparently been a recent reader of the United States Constitution said that bill went too far. Possibly the judge was a co-conspirator with the Tea Party movement. I know that might strike you as improbable, but I am told that, at least in rural New York, there are still judges conversant with the Constitution.
All this concern of the mayor for his legacy is, as I have implied, in pursuit of a delusion. Only an occasional professor of urban politics gives a rat's hind leg for Bloomberg's legacy. Do you remember Mayor John Lindsay's legacy or Mayor David Dinkins' legacy -- other than during their terms the subway system was a no-man's land, the sidewalks were dirty and dominated by muggers and the city was headed toward bankruptcy. By some accounting theories, it already was bankrupt. Mayor Edward Koch left a legacy, but it was not much. Possibly a few wry wisecracks were attributed to him, possibly an urbane witticism. That is about it.