Friday, October 24, 2008

Twenty-Nine Palms - Outstretched

City Council Votes Itself
A Third Four-Year Term,
Overriding Two Referenda

Twenty-nine members of the City Council voted yesterday to over-rule 586,890 New Yorkers who, in a referendum, had rejected an earlier proposal by the Council to lengthen their eligibility from two terms to three.

The result is considered a victory for Mayor Bloomberg, and it is a victory in the sense that, if the vote had gone the other way, it would have been a rebuff. As it was, it took personal appeals by the mayor to councilmembers who would otherwise have voted No on the bill.

It has been widely reported is that Councilman James Vacca changed his position from No to Yes based on the views of his mother. We had not heard that since the late Congressman Thomas Manton said in 1976 that he had voted No on the gay rights bill because he had been told to do so by his father.

However, it is a victory that may turn out to be Pyrrhic. The phrase derives from King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who fought a battle with the Romans in 280 B.C.E. at Heraclea. He won the battle but lost so many soldiers that, for two millennia, his name has signified a victory that is not worth its cost.

In this case, the mayor’s loss is marginal and reputational. He has always portrayed himself as a truthful person. Part of his appeal is based on the belief that because he is so rich he does not have to lie, cheat, or steal, as lesser persons sometimes feel they must to enhance their assets, relationships or station in life.


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