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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Like Sarah Palin, Cathie Black Apparently Never Blinked

Of all the mind-boggling events surrounding Sarah Palin in the 2008 Presidential election, few surpassed her early-on assertion that she never hesitated in her belief that she was the right candidate for the Republican Vice Presidential nomination. A college student who attended six different schools before finally graduating, a hockey mom and small-town mayor, a governor for just a year or two in a small-population state whose oil royalties made its economics look more like Saudi Arabia’s than a part of America, Ms. Palin quickly demonstrated just how extraordinarily inflated her self-assessment and sense of self-esteem actually were for someone who was agreeing to put herself a heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States, and a potentially weak heartbeat at that.

Here’s an excerpt from Palin’s September 11, 2008 interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson:

GIBSON: And you didn't say to yourself, "Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I -- will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?"

PALIN: I didn't hesitate, no.

GIBSON: Didn't that take some hubris?

PALIN: I -- I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink.

So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.

In Ms. Palin’s case, was it hubris, a wildly inflated sense of her own abilities, or simply a case of being a deer in the headlights, too stunned to think through the full implications of what was (incredibly) being offered?

Now, here in NYC, we have a similar situation with Mayor Bloomberg’s selection of Cathie Black (don't write "Cathy" or she'll reportedly think much less of you) as the prospective Chancellor of NYC public schools. Not to say, by any stretch, that Ms. Black compares to Ms. Palin in accomplishment or intellect; she clearly exceeds Sarah by light years. However, the question here is about readiness, or fitness, for the position offered.

Did Ms. Black ever blink? Did she ever take a moment to consider whether and how her credentials matched up to the requirements of the position? Did she ever recognize just how closely those credentials would be publicly scrutinized, particularly given the increasingly contentious atmosphere Joel Klein had generated over the past eight years? Did she ever wonder whether someone with no discernible link to the world of education or public schools or even the lives of the families who struggle to survive in NYC and pull their children through school was really suited to the job? Did she ever ask Mayor Bloomberg who else was considered, or whether there might not be better candidates, both in terms of professional qualifications as well as political palatability? Did she ever think to recommend to the Mayor that a more visibly public search than a 7:00 a.m. breakfast meeting might result in a choice (even if it was her) that would at least not have the appearance of an offer that just sort of came up at a millionaires-only cocktail party? Did she ever consider suggesting to the Mayor that, given her lack of credentials, appointing her without a public process or at least some prior consensus building would be like driving a stake through the eye of teachers and parents, and make her assumption of the job substantially more difficult? Finally, did she ever wonder whether she was really the person best suited to lead over one million children by assuming responsibility for their educational futures?

By all accounts so far, Ms. Black never blinked. " stomach did a flip-flop. The opportunity made me feel fantastic," she told gossip-monger Cindy Adams (!!!!) in a spasm of egocentricity during her only media interview since the appointment. Ms. Black didn’t think it was necessary to have a real interview, the kind where the candidate asks the prospective employer some probing questions. She apparently thought it was enough to say "Yes!!" and cap her professional career with a stint as a public servant – just a nice little schools chancellorship before finally retiring to Connecticut. All she would need to get ready would be to read a few of Joel’s files and a couple of reports, right?

On the “I-didn’t-blink” scale, Ms. Black and Ms. Palin seem to have garnered the same scores. The citizens of NYC helped vote down Ms. Palin; sadly, they are not granted the same option (or any voice whatsoever) with Ms. Black.

Commissioner Steiner, the citizens of NYC are waiting to see if you will blink -- and think.






At this point it would require that gravity cease to exist for this "Legend in her own mind" to ever become the next Chancellor.

But there is a much bigger story here that few are seeing, which surprises me with so many savvy people out there.

After dealing with the immediate emergency the next focus should be on Mayor Bloomberg's absolute disdain for the rule of law, for his disdain for the office he holds, for the disdain his actions reflect for possessing even the flimsiest code of ethics and personal morality and his utter and complete disdain for the rights of the citizens of New York City to expect clean, open and honest government.

This entire affair is proof once again, as if anyone needed such proof, that Michael Bloomberg does not deserve to possess the title of Mayor of New York City.

When Spitzer's personal life was exposed he was run out of town faster than a speeding bullet. But Mr. Spitzer's private life did not impact nearly so much on the welfare of more than one million children as Bloomberg trying to install or rather ram Ms. Cathie Black into Joel Klein's former position.

Once this ugly business of blocking any thought of a waiver for this caricature of an Education "expert" has been accomplished, the next big push should be to investigate the entire sordid background story with an eye to requiring Michael Bloomberg to step down and resign his Office, forthwith.

If there were ever such a thing as "the last straw", the Mayor's entire handling of this affair and most importantly the quality of his choice for a new schools Chancellor, into whose hands to entrust the lives and futures of one million children, says it all.

This latest stunt of the Mayor must be seen as the final "coups de grace" in his long history of showing disdain for every man, woman and child in NYC outside his own immediate circle of upper crust, entitled and well heeled friends.

Has Michael Bloomberg at long last no sense of decency ? Has he in fact no shred of decency at all ?

Only time and history will judge who had a more catastrophic and negative impact on NYC- Joel Klein, Esq. or the person who hired that charlatan.

NYCPubSchooler said...

Think we have no voice? Hear our voice!



While so much necessary time and energy are being spent to block Bloomberg's outrageous choice of Cathie Black for Chancellor, we must assume that if the Waiver is not granted, it is to be expected that Bloomberg's next choice will be equally inappropriate and uninformed.

In light of this fact, would it not be wise, useful and prudent for all groups opposing the choice of Cathie Black, to begin creating a list of ten or more names which all informed parties in the Education Community can agree would absolutely constitute first class choices to lead the largest Public Schools system in the nation.

While criticism of the Mayor's very poor judgment is both important and useful it is equally imperative that a positive, pro-active strategy now be initiated immediately in which it will be the Mayor who will be on the defensive to explain why he refuses to consider the first class candidates recommended to him by the Education community.

There are doubtless many individuals in the US who are ready, willing and able and possess the requisite expertise and integrity to serve as the next NYC Schools Chancellor.

Such an initiative would clearly place the Mayor in a position where he would not dare attempt to engage in "dejas vu", all over again, after the Waiver is denied and might even force the media, he controls to a large extent to admit and say:
"Yes- what about "so and so" to replace Cathie Black. S/he would represent a far wiser choice."

Now is the time to act in order to prevent a repeat of the present ugly and embarrassing fiasco.