I'm sure by now everyone has heard about this. My initial reaction to this charming bit of news went something like:
FUCK YOU MICHAEL BLOOMBERG! FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCKHEADED FUCK!
With the passage of time I am now able to react in a more nuanced fashion.
The sorry spectacle of the NYPD intelligence unit sending operatives undercover to infiltrate groups like Code Pink and the performance art troupe Billionaires for Bush (let's face it, it wasn't exactly Donnie Brasco duty) is made even more pathetic when you realize that Michael Bloomberg didn't do it because he's enthralled by George W. Bush's vision for America, nor is he an authoritarian ideologue like his predecessor, Rudy "your freedom exists to the degree that you respect authority" Giuliani. Bloomberg wasn't even a Republican until it was clear that he had no shot at the Democratic nomination to succeed Giuliani. You know why he did it? Because he's a brand manager.
For those of you who have never worked in marketing, brand management is a discipline created by Proctor and Gamble that is designed to control what people think about a given product. Think about that - your job is to try and control what people think. If you want to go nuts in a hurry, work as a brand manager. It's terrifying.
Bloomberg's task was to show that New York could pull off a major event smoothly. Sadly, that major event meant a man despised by (at the time) nearly half the nation, accompanied by a hoard of underlings who owe their careers to denigrating New York City and everything it's come to stand for were going to promenade up and down the avenues until they got to hold a ceremony proclaiming the despised guy God Emperor of what-the-fuck. In other words, Mike, you picked this fight.
NYPD intelligence usually does a pretty good job - they were breaking up terror cells long before there ever was a Department of Homeland Security . To send these officers to spy on someone who likes to put on a ball gown and call herself 'Frida Krushyou' is ridiculous. There hasn't been a single, credible link established between the peace movement in the United States and any active terror cell. (Really, when they had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessing to every act of terrorism in world history - including crimes other people had alredy been convicted of - would it have killed them to have him throw in, "I also donate money to Moveon.org and I am a field manager for International ANSWER." How hard would that have been?) But no, control had to be maintained, the right to free assembly trampled and protestors locked up in an abandoned chemical plant, not because of God, country, or party, but because the New York City brand had to look nice and shiny for the TV cameras.
You're not a leader, Mayor Bloomberg. You're a brand manager. And, for a billionaire CEO, a pretty bad one at that.
Bloomberg's actions remind me of a keen observation others have made about the Bush administration - they have no policy arm, all they know how to do is push product. Which means they live in a constant state of anxiety over what we think about their product. Poor babies. But that's a topic for another post.