Eric Adams at the Brink
2024 will define the rest of his political career
Naturally, people ask me what I think will happen with Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City. A federal probe threatens to unravel his administration; politicos are openly wondering when Adams will get indicted, resign, and trigger a special election. They wonder, too, when the disgraced Andrew Cuomo will get his second chance. Adams now has the lowest job approval rating of any New York mayor measured by a Quinnipiac poll.
Meanwhile, the mayor can’t save himself with his shtick. This isn’t surprising to me, but I’ll admit Adams sank faster than even I imagined. When Adams was running for mayor and leftists and liberals were conflating Andrew Yang with Donald Trump, I told them they’d prefer Yang, in the end, because he would be amenable to their arguments. Michelle Goldberg, in the Times, helpfully cited me while ultimately disagreeing: Adams, a former police captain with the support of large labor unions and the working class Black community, promised more progressive governance, she said. We will never know what a Mayor Yang would have done, but we know Adams has been, for the progressive left, mostly a disaster. Right now, he is implementing deeply unpopular social services cuts and he has all but given up on the idea of wielding municipal government to create new programs for the working class, like universal prekindergarten.
Adams’ final act seems to be going viral. There was the TV interview where he said one of the great things about being a New Yorker was waking up and experiencing a “plane crash into our Trade Center.” There was Adams, in a bit of deranged synecdoche, calling himself the “pilot” of New York’s “plane” who must be prayed for so he can land the plane safely. And who can forget Adams’ novel argument for outdoor dining?
Eric Adams and Donald Trump have more in common than either would concede. They are both bombastic outer borough New Yorkers who found purchase in the city’s bruising and now faded tabloid culture. They exaggerate, they lie, and they relish combat with anyone who calls them out. They belch out whatever is on their mind in any given moment. They have spent decades flirting with illegality; now prosecutors have both in the crosshairs. Adams may never be indicted like Trump. But if anyone is going to become the first sitting mayor to be indicted, it will be him.