A spokesman for New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said in a new profile that there was a difference between the perception that His Honor is "lazy" and that he simply dislikes his job.
Press secretary Freddi Goldberg said as much to the New York Times in a story about the mutual disdain for each other held by city-dwellers and their mayor. The most unpopular politician in the state, de Blasio launched a 2020 presidential bid in May that had New Yorkers wondering what he was thinking.
While reporter Matt Flegenheimer was speaking with former deputy mayor J. Phillip Thompson III about aides who questioned de Blasio's affection for his job, Goldberg cut in.
"Disliking the job and being lazy are two different things," she said. "I think what we read about is like, 'He's asleep on his couch, he’s at Gracie doing God knows what.' I think that is a trope that is often used for African-Americans."
De Blasio is a white man whose given name at birth was Warren Wilhelm. The Times reported Goldberg later clarified that she believed de Blasio did like his job.
The well-connected Harlem staple and former Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) said he had never seen a politician as isolated as de Blasio, who managed his 1994 re-election to Congress.
"I don't know a goddamn person that's his buddy — nobody," Rangel said. "And everybody, even Giuliani, I know who his buddies are."
De Blasio was first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. The Times profile depicts de Blasio as perpetually aggrieved and startled by his unpopularity.
"You don't understand," he told a staff member about the media. "They hate me."
"Anecdotes like this have fueled persistent insinuations that de Blasio is lazy, a charge to which he is particularly sensitive," Flegenheimer wrote.
De Blasio's first police commissioner, William Bratton, said the death of Eric Garner at police hands and the volatile aftermath—where no charges were filed and cops turned their backs on de Blasio at a funeral for slain policemen weeks later—shook him up.
"Did it change him emotionally? I think it did," Bratton said. "He still doesn't understand why there's such a dislike for him."
De Blasio's presidential run has failed to gain traction in polling or fundraising. However, he did do his best to move the presidential debate in June to the left. He raised his hand when asked if he would support eliminating private health insurance. He also castigated former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas) for defending the industry.
His absence from the job during his quixotic White House bid has drawn more criticism. He was campaigning in Iowa when thousands of residents in Manhattan were hit by a massive blackout.
Fellow 2020 hopeful Andrew Yang delivered a withering line when de Blasio showed up in South Carolina to address activists at an event Yang headlined:
When Yang concluded a planned speech to about two dozen activists, de Blasio slid in behind him, as perhaps 20 people lingered. "I live in New York," Yang said as he left. "You have to come to South Carolina to meet your New York mayor."