07/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


At the beginning of this month, Michael Barbaro of the New York Times did a piece about the generally prickly news conference Mayor Bloomberg held about his positions regarding a) his calling another reporter "a disgrace" for asking him about his decision to run for a third term despite the term-limits law that Bloomberg himself helped to put in place, b) his refusal to admit regret over the incident, and c) his shifting policies with regard to taking campaign questions at non-campaign events and vice versa. In a statement that seemed in some ways to address--or refuse to address is more like it--all these and other issues, the Mayor said, "I am 67. I am who I am."

Generally, this spring, the Mayor has seemed prickly about many things--all these prickles growing, in my pseudo-psychoanalytic opinion, out of that term-limits override, engineered who knows how? I forget. Did the City Council make a pilgrimage to the Vatican and ask the Pope to annul the term-limits law? Was there a million-person march on City Hall begging the Mayor to continue as Mayor? Was Twitter short-circuited by the massive pleadings of its habitues for the Mayor to continue in office?

No. The Mayor wanted to go on being Mayor. It was that simple, and, in my opinion, that imperious--that lese-majeste. The piece in the Times last week by Barbaro and David W. Chen about Bloomberg as a golfer contains some interesting points of contrast to Term limitsgate: it turns out that the Mayor is a stickler for obeying the golfer's code of ethics.

"He is scrupulously honest," the piece says, "counting every shot." Didn't even take a one-stroke penalty and the clear swing that moving his obstructed ball one club length on a course in Bermuda would have allowed him. It's almost as though the golf course provides him with an outlet for playing by the rules (even though he uses it for political schmoozing), or a way to allow himself to think that he is an ethical stickler. He may play hob with term limits, but he plays golf by the book.

The conflict the Mayor evidently feels about his term-limits disdain came through most clearly in that Times piece about the rancorous press conference a couple of weeks ago. "I am who I am." First person singular. Later: "Most people seem to like the Mayor." Third person singular--as if, like Dick Nixon with "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore," Bloomberg was having a verbally schizoid break. And: "You can't separate the campaign from what you do as Mayor." Second person singular. And, finally, "We will live with that." First person plural.

In my experience, when a public figure begins to confound and conflate all these persons and singulars and plurals, especially when speaking spontanaeously, it's a sign of significant psychological conflict. I think the Mayor is, perhaps unconsciously, unhappy with the scheming he did to allow himself to run for a third term. I think his rigor and scruples on the golf course may be an effort to compensate for his fastness and looseness elsewhere. I would like to resolve his conflicts for him by electing someone else. For I, too, am not only 67, but also, like Bloomberg and Popeye, who I am.