Jacob Frey isn’t the only leftist mayor to feel the wrath of BlackLivesMatter protesters. According to this report, Bill de Blasio was booed as he delivered a 90-second speech about white privilege.
De Blasio tried to rely on black privilege. He had his African-American wife introduce him.
It wasn’t enough. One protester, described as queer black consultant, explained:
It’s a little conflicting because he has a black wife, he has black children, but I still feel like he’s not doing everything he can to lead this city right now.
Even identity politics has its limits.
At the slogan level, the left’s critique of de Blasio is the same as that of moderates and conservatives. De Blasio has been “reactive, not proactive.”
The left complains that de Blasio stood by while the police detained more than 2,500 people during nine days of protesting (and, often, looting and other criminal behavior). Moderates and conservatives complain that de Blasio failed to bring the city under control. For example, he declined to call in the National Guard.
According to Bill Bratton, de Blasio’s first police chief and a police chief under Rudy Giuliani, the mayor has been walking a tightrope when it comes to policing. He has tried to satisfy the anti-police crowd, to whom he promised major reforms, without alienating the police force.
The Washington Post points out that, as an aide to Mayor Dinkins, de Blasio saw first hand the consequences of a mayor losing support of the police department. The chaos that ensued was a factor in the election of Giuliani.
But de Blasio has satisfied neither his lefty backers nor the police. As one black city counsel member put it, “If you’re not committed to one side or the other, you piss off both sides.”
In theory, that’s not a bad thing for a politician in this situation to do. A Democratic mayor (or presidential candidate, for that matter) should be able to gain political advantage by politely but firmly resisting extreme demands like abolishing the police.
A politician doesn’t have to attack the extremists, as Bill Clinton did in his Sister Souljah moment. He just needs to show that, though he shares their concerns, he doesn’t agree with all of their demands and slogans. This will help satisfy less extreme voters that he’s sensible enough to be entrusted with high office.
The approach seems to be working for Andrew Cuomo, but it’s too late for de Blasio to pull it off. Indeed, Cuomo is using de Blasio as a foil.
Can Joe Biden pull it off? I would have thought so, and he has said he opposes the lunatic idea of abolishing the police. Thank heaven for small favors.
However, as Stanley Kurtz says, Biden has been coming across like a meek college president. He’s not just incapable of a Sister Souljah moment, he may be incapable of convincingly showing he can resist the array of extremist demands and slogans.
The election might turn on whether he can show this — or on whether anti-Trump sentiment is sufficiently strong and widespread that people are willing to pretend he has.