One Police Plaza

Trump and de Blasio: Soul Brothers?

February 20, 2017

They may be ideological opposites but President Donald Trump and Mayor Bill de Blasio have more in common than you might think.

Both were elected from large fields of contenders, both running against the establishment. Criticizing the establishment and casting himself as anti-elitist, Trump defeated a cast of mainstream Republicans and the mainstream Democrat, Hillary Clinton.

Criticizing the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and casting himself as anti-police, de Blasio defeated his mainstream opponent, former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Both made serious misjudgments at the onset of their terms. Trump is still making them. His first major policy pronouncement — his executive order suspending immigration from seven Muslim countries — was stayed by the courts. Many in the NYPD believe that de Blasio’s first-year anti-police rhetoric created the environment that culminated in the fatal shootings of two police officers.

Both men have pulled back from some of their early blunders.

After taking a call from Taiwan’s president, upsetting China’s leader, Trump later telephoned him to reiterate our country’s long-standing “one-China policy.” After stating he favored moving the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, he now says we should wait and see.

After cops turned their backs at him at the two cops’ funerals and the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association denounced him, de Blasio began praising the NYPD and provided the funding to hire about 1,300 additional cops, mainly to help fight terrorism. Most recently, he gave the cops raises that are greater than those of all other police unions.

Both men face some political trouble. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is investigating de Blasio’s fundraising practices and federal prosecutors are said to be probing whether the mayor or city officials gave preferable treatment to contributors in exchange for donations.

Trump’s firing of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may be just the beginning of investigations into Flynn’s and Trump’s Russian connections that could result in lasting damage to his presidency, if not impeachment.

Both men remain captives of their inner selves. Self-destructive as it is to him, Trump seems unable to stop himself from tweeting off-the-cuff. De Blasio cannot shake free of his radical predilections.

Earlier this month, Trump tweeted to attack retailer Nordstrom after it said it would drop his daughter’s fashion line. He wrote: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

And de Blasio tweeted to laud President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera, a member of a Puerto Rican terrorist group responsible for 100 bombings in the 1970s and 1980s. Among the group’s attacks were a bombing at Fraunces Tavern that killed four and another at Police Plaza that permanently injured three police officers. De Blasio tweeted: “Thank you POTUS for freeing Oscar Rivera Lopez. Congratulations for all who fought for this day.”


Copyright © 2017 Leonard Levitt