Magazine article The New Yorker

Not So Great Debate

Magazine article The New Yorker

Not So Great Debate

Article excerpt

Last Wednesday, Errol Louis, of NY1 News, announced his low hopes for the first Democratic mayoral debate, which he was set to moderate in a few hours, at Town Hall. "It may look awful to first-time viewers," he said. "It may look like they've walked into the middle of some ongoing fight, or a bad marriage." Louis was quickly proved right. Christine Quinn accused Bill de Blasio of lying; John Liu accused Bill Thompson of elitism; Erick Salgado, who polls at around two per cent, waxed digressive about socialism and slavery. The audience included campaign aides in gray suits and, in the remaining seats, people who had reserved free tickets online.

Politicians lie; they dither; they disappoint; but at least, in most cases, they entertain. The current cast of mayoral candidates, with Anthony Weiner now in a subdued supporting role, failed even at this. "I am overwhelmingly underwhelmed," a woman named Margaret, walking past Town Hall toward the subway, said. Her friend Julia agreed: "I can't think of anyone in the race who's not a joke." What could a candidate do to win their support? "Not be a douche."

A young man had been canvassing on behalf of one of the candidates (he would not say which one, though he conspicuously avoided female pronouns), but he said that he was planning to vote for a different candidate, whose opposition to stop-and-frisk is more steadfast. "At least they're all Democrats," he said, and shrugged. "When you say it out loud, it doesn't sound so good."

Across the street was Anthony Weiner's Weiner Truck, a former Good Humor truck that had been repainted with a mural of hot dogs, flip phones, suggestive text bubbles, and block letters reading "Carlos Danger." The truck was a marketing stunt by Joey Goodwin. What he was marketing was his marketing company. "Are you pro-Weiner?" a pedestrian asked Goodwin. "Did he pay for this?"

"Of course not," Goodwin said. "We're just opportunistic marketers." Asked about his political proclivities, Goodwin praised Bill Clinton--"He got a lot done"--but neglected to endorse a mayoral candidate. "I haven't done the research, honestly," he said.

Bill Thompson walked by. "We need a picture of you in front of the truck!" Goodwin shouted.

"I don't think so," Thompson said, grinning mildly. …

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