Is Barack Obama the New David Dinkins?


My brother Bena called me yesterday and gave me that headline and said write it up.  No facts, no figures just the headline.  I’ve thought about it for a while and will take the challenge!

David Dinkins was the mayor of New York City after Koch and before Giuliani. You can imagine, he’s a bit of a forgotten man. His term ran from 1990 to 1993 and he presided over a transitional period in the City.  He was the mayor after the stock market crash of 1987, during New York’s peak murder years (they did begin their downward trend while he was in office) and had to deal with major race issues in the City. (Crown Heights Riot.)  To say he was caught between a rock and hard place would be accurate.

What’s this go to do with Barack Obama?  Tons! I’ll list them out. Here’s what I got:

– Both were firsts.

Dinkins was New York’s first black mayor and Obama our first black president.

– Highly educated and measured.

Their demeanor is very similar.  Soft spoken, measured and very intelligent.

– Inherited major financial crisis

Dinkins came in after the first YUPPIE boom in New York. The stock market had crashed and real estate floundered in the wake of S&L issues nationally. Additionally, the City suffered through attempts at balancing the budget.  Obama is in very much a similar situation today with our national jobs crisis and deficit.

– Inherited major unrest.

New York was much more racially charged during Dinkins’ term and it showed. Policing was thought to be a dead end game and race relations an unsolvable quagmire.   Obama inherits a similar situation but on the global stage. The Middle East is thought of not managable and our army is engaged in three theatres. 

– Having trouble leading as executives.

Dinkins and Obama faced similar short comings. Very pragmatic thinkers who appear to lack that executive pedigree. Both have got a lot done,(Health care for Obama, parks and crime drop for Dinkins) but politically these changes have not resulted in short term lift.  New York needs strong leadership and force of personality just like the United States does.

– Both followed scandal riddled administrations.

Dinkins came in after Koch’s final years were marred with scandle, similarly Obama rode the ‘change’ wagon to the presidency. They share the peoples desire for change as a vehicle for their elections.

What does this mean for Barack Obama? Are we about to set ourselves up for hard right turn to tough-love politics  like New York did with Giuliani?  Will work of Obama’s administration only later been seen as beneficial the way Dinkins’s work with parks and the police department be?

Sound off in the comments.


Posted via email from Laurent Courtines Free Online | Comment »

By Laurent Courtines

I'm here and I am ready to go. Been doing my homework and I have things to say.

Leave a Reply