Imagine the city government if the next mayor asked his opponents to help lead
One of the greatest political books ever, "A Team of Rivals," by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, tells the compelling and always relevant tale of Abe Lincoln's unprecedented hiring of his presidential rivals to serve in his administration.
Not before, nor since, have we seen such a blatant act of humility and bipartisanship that ended up subsuming Lincoln's ego for the greater good of our country.
We saw a microcosm of this tactic in President Barack Obama's appointment of his once fierce Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, to be Secretary of State during his first term.
That turned out well for both parties; Hillary worked hard, repaired U.S. relations around the world, gained huge foreign policy experience and positioned herself as the frontrunner for 2016.
Obama, who wisely did not let past political feuds cloud his management vision, got a savvy and well-known foreign policy partner who helped him execute a tough but more coherent global policy - and, we're told, Hillary was one of the main proponents of executing the Osama Bin Laden raid despite V.P. Joe Biden's reported reluctance.
In New York, we are close to the dawning of a new mayoral administration, and there's a number of people who ran for the highest office who could be very helpful to the new mayor.
Although it's highly unlikely to happen, imagine if Bill de Blasio (if he wins Nov. 5th) reached across the aisle and picked his opponent, Joe Lhota, to be first deputy mayor or deputy mayor for operations. Lhota's already done one of those jobs, so even if de Blasio decides to turn to him for help, it's unlikley Lhota wants to be second in command again - particularly, for a mayor whose experience and ideas he vigorously challenged during the campaign.
Would Christine Quinn make a good Deputy Mayor, just like Hillary made a very good Secretary of State? Probably, but that is also highly unlikely to happen. Quinn represents a link to the Bloomberg years and de Blasio is going to distance himself from his predecessor and anybody who supported him. It's too bad: Quinn's a hard-working public servant and would probably do well in the right role.
How about Bill Thompson or John Liu? It's hard to imagine Thompson wanting an appointed position after he was comptroller for eight years and ran the former Board of Education. But it's a shame to lose his wealth of experience. John Liu is ideologically similar to de Blasio, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch for him to be a deputy Mayor or an agency head. But here again it's more likely that Liu decamps to the private sector to make money while he strategizes his next move in public life.
Adolfo Carrion is a smart, pragmatic man who knows a lot about urban policy - why not make him head of the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development? He could help the next mayor a lot. But once again, hard to imagine him being asked, or if asked, that he'd take an appointed position. Sal Albanese is a very wise man who could still serve our city well but there were too many fireworks during the campaign between him and de Blasio to imagine them working together closely. And John Catsimatidis is a great New Yorker who yearns to make the city a better place; hopefully, de Blasio finds some unofficial role for the candidate who called himself "Cats," because he has some good ideas and good experience.
And finally, there's Anthony Weiner. Hard to imagine under any circumstances that he ends up working as a second banana in city government.
So, any chance for a team of rivals in city government in 2014? Doesn't seem likely, but wouldn't it send a great message to Washington, D.C. and the rest of the world if a 6 foot 5 inch mayor who bears some physical resemblence to Lincoln stole a page from one of our greatest president's playbooks?
Tom Allon, the president of City and State, NY, is the former Liberal Party-backed candidate for Mayor. Questions or comments? Tallon@cityandstateny.com.