The mission that they ran was not one for which they were well equipped. The country had to respond somehow following the attack, and these great men did that.
There are only four of the 80 who were part of that mission still with us. They rallied American morale and stymied Japanese momentum. War is ugly, but life after war would have been much uglier if not for these heroes.
Stagnation Not Good
Councilman Eric Ulrich’s re-election victory last week came with a little drama, as the young incumbent trailed until late in the evening.
As was written here months ago, if the election focused on Rockaway, it would be a closer race than normal. This is not to suggest that Democrat Lew Simon was not formidable. There was also a low voter turnout throughout the city, which could not have helped Ulrich either.
In the end, the incumbent council member was re-elected. As he explained afterward, he now has the opportunity to continue his work for victims of the storm.
Ulrich winning is not news. Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley being re-elected in the 30th District is also not big news, although it was a good contest. And the race between Republican Dennis Saffran and Democrat Paul Vallone in the 28th District was not as close as expected.
What last Tuesday said, loud and clear, is that this city has no definitive Republican Party. Its incumbents - save for Staten Island - are not safe in their seats.
The party faithful could only manufacture a paltry 24 percent in a city that has elected Republican mayors (at least “ballot Republicans”) for 20 years. Joe Lhota’s stances were similar to the previous two successful mayors, and that was not enough to get him to 25 percentage points.
Somewhere in the last week of the mayoral election, there was evidence as to why the city is a one-party democracy. Lhota was painted as a Tea Party conservative. Lhota, who is pro-choice and pro-tax, was successfully labeled with the words Tea Party, which is kind of an insult to both Lhota and the Tea Party.
As long as the New York City Republicans are attached to national issues, that 24 percent is where things are going to stay. Republicans in New York City are rarely as conservative as Republicans - or even Democrats - in the middle of the country. To allow their candidate to be stuffed into that category showed exactly why the party cannot speak to local New Yorkers.
There needs to be a meeting of the county leaders in each of the five borough. They need to put a policy agenda together that explains where the party as a whole stands on a few basic issues. Candidates can differ on particular issues, but the party needs to reintroduce itself on relevant issues to New Yorkers.
It needs some kind of “Contract with New York City,” where it outlines what matters to the party and why it should matter to residents. Even if the party continues to lose elections, at least there will be an honest dialogue with voters about what New York City Republicans support.
Until that happens, candidates are going to continue to be attached to national politics, which is completely out of their control.
This is not to say that Bill de Blasio would have been vulnerable in this election anyway. It only means that it would have given Lhota a chance to be the New York Republican that he is, and not the national Republican by which he was defined.
De Blasio ran for mayor at the right time. It was his time, and he may prove to be more of a pragmatist than what critics are saying. He may wind up governing more from the center than people expect, and for that we should give him a chance.