The Spring in Our Step
Last Friday, Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times authored a sobering column about the despair that has overtaken blue America in the Trump era.

“The entire Trump presidency has been marked, for many of us who are part of the plurality that despises it, by anxiety and anger,” Goldberg wrote . “But lately I’ve noticed, and not just in myself, a demoralizing degree of fear, even depression.”

She quoted a woman named Katie Landsman, who admitted to being “in a dark place.”

“It’s like watching someone you love die of a wasting disease,” Landsman told Goldberg. “Each day, you still have that little hope no matter what happens, you’re always going to have that little hope that everything’s going to turn out O.K., but every day it seems like we get hit by something else.”

Amid this deepening gloom, the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach the president. Few Democrats believe that the Senate will convict Donald Trump, but this historic humiliation was enough to puncture the gloom, if even for just a short while. The bully had finally been punched in the face.

Nancy Pelosi, uttering the only false note of her legislative tour de force, indulged in a moment of giddiness. “It seems like people have a spring in their step because the president was held accountable for his reckless behavior,” she told reporters. “ I have a spring in my step.”

And who could deny it? The rebuke was hugely empowering for those who have suffered under this odious man, even in the face of warnings that the move won't play well in the long run.

“The Democrats think they’ve just had a big triumph,” Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal . “They dressed in dark clothes and never smiled, as at a wake, but the deceased was making kicking sounds from the casket and appeared to be tweeting, so it was incongruous.”

Enjoy your moment, she warned – the party is marching leftward into the abyss. “Poised to defeat an unpopular president, the Democratic Party picked itself up—and placed itself outside the mainstream of American politics,” she wrote.

Maybe the warnings will prove wrong – no one knows. For the moment, though, things feel right for the first time in a long while.
The Post, the Mayor and a Tragedy
The city reacted with horror at the news of Barnard freshman Tessa Majors’ murder in Morningside Park last week, and again a few days later when a
13-year-old suspect was arrested in the case.

The crime was a huge story, but no news organization cared more about it than the New York Post . The tabloid published 24 stories about Majors, almost twice the number of stories in The Daily News and almost five times that of the New York Times .

The Post’s editors know a gripping crime story when they see one, but the coverage had as much to do with Bill de Blasio as with Ms. Major. The underlying message of its coverage was that the city is returning to a
pre-Giuliani state of bedlam.

“New York’s self-confidence is being tested almost daily — by the chaos in its subways, by the in-your-face panhandling on its streets, by crime and rumors of crime in the outer boroughs and by the senseless rhetoric of its political class, which holds that the only thing wrong with law enforcement in Gotham is that there is too damned much of it,” wrote Bob McManus.

The veteran editor and columnist invoked the highly-publicized murder 30 years ago of Brian Watkins, a tourist from Provo, Utah who was stabbed to death by youths looking for money to go out dancing.

“Is it possible that the stabbing death Wednesday evening of another young out-of-towner might have a similarly salutary effect, awakening New Yorkers and concentrating their attention on an advancing tide of predation — and perhaps help arrest the decline?” McManus asked.

Depending upon your viewpoint, the Post is either sensationalizing a brutal murder for political purposes or setting off critical alarm bells. The city’s violent crime rate has been running at historic lows, with fewer than 300 murders recorded two years running (versus over 2,000 in the Dinkins years). But now murders are up nine percent, and the crime rate in Morningside Park, where Majors was killed, ballooned 82 percent over the last year.
It’s hard to argue that the quality of life on the subways and the streets hasn’t suffered under de Blasio. It's a rare commute that doesn’t include an encounter with a panhandler, often a deranged one. De Blasio has been maddeningly slow to respond to the problem, even after four homeless men were bludgeoned to death in Chinatown by another homeless man in October.

This week, the mayor announced a plan to “end street homelessness as we know it.” (“Third time’s a charm?” wrote Nolan Hicks and Julia Marsh.)

For all The Post's efforts, though, its campaign to turn this awful crime into the last straw of a public furor has yet to succeed. The city still seems a ways away from the “Dave, Do Something! days. 

In an elegant column invoking Donald Trump’s infamous screed calling for the death penalty for the now-exonerated Central Park Five, Harry Siegel wrote in The News that both sides in the war over police enforcement need to look in the mirror.

Remember that the Donald Trumps of the world will always scream that more enforcement of tougher laws is the only answer, for our own safety,” Siegel stated. “And that the people who see all policing as oppression have a lot to do with how the Trumps of the world end up with the power to act on their screams.”
"Just months before leaving office in 2013, Bloomberg received an email from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA player, thanking Bloomberg for his 12 years in office.

'You will be missed sir,' Johnson wrote on Sept. 11 of that year.

Bloomberg’s response: 'Will be forgotten by 2/1/14.'”

-- Yoav Gonen  and  Reuven Blau in The City. The reporters poured through the former mayor's internal emails at the Municipal Archives.
Visit the Communications Breakdown page on the Kirtzman Strategies website .

Have a Quotable quote? Other suggestions?
Kirtzman Strategies is a strategic communications and public affairs firm that works with public officials, nonprofits, companies, tech startups and education organizations.
Kirtzman Strategies | |