“Why does what I’m saying hurt you? I didn’t say that we were through. Always something breaking us in two.” – Joe Jackson
Just a couple of years ago, the political friendship between Joe Biden and Eric Adams was a Nick Nolte-Eddie Murphy buddy movie for our times.
The “sane Democrat” talking points of mayoral candidate Adams in 2021 fit nicely into the ideological bag of Biden, who also loved having a retired Black police captain poised to run the nation’s largest city as it recovered from COVID-19.
Then came the migrants.
Frustrated by the lack of a national policy for the flood of asylum seekers who have flooded into the city over the last year, Mayor Adams is zeroing in on an unlikely target who’s up for reelection next year: Joe Biden.
Talking about the migrant crisis earlier this month, the mayor didn’t pick sides in the blame game: “It is the irresponsibility of the Republican Party in Washington for refusing to do real immigration reform, and it’s the irresponsibility of the White House for not addressing this problem.’’
It’s reminiscent of Adams’ frequent talk about bail reform during the race for governor in 2022—when Kathy Hochul would have preferred that the mayor talks about anything else under the sun rather than give more attention to a talking point of her Republican rival, Lee Zeldin. But New York leaders sometimes march to the beat of their own loud drum, thumbing their nose at presidents of their own party.
Once close political allies, Gov. Al Smith bitterly split with FDR over The New Deal, despite New York serving as a test case for many of the policies that Roosevelt would implement nationally.
In a later generation, Ed Koch served as a major thorn in the side of Jimmy Carter, criticizing some of the federal bailout plans for New York as well as some of Carter’s Mideast policies. Making the split all but official in 1980, Koch endorsed Ted Kennedy’s primary challenge against Carter and later met with GOP nominee Ronald Reagan, infuriating the White House.
No one is suggesting that Adams is about to have a weird lunch with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or Tim Scott, but there’s clearly some Democratic bridge-building that needs to get done between City Hall and the White House before 2024.
Likely afraid of GOP attacks, Biden won’t throw a bone at Hochul and Adams and instead is ignoring their reasonable plea to fast-track the process to allow the migrants to work legally so they can do more than sit around in a hotel room.
But rather than frown and bear it, Adams hasn’t been afraid to criticize the president, getting a front-page New York Times story about their split, which is likely giving him more headaches.
Meanwhile, Republicans are loving the Democratic family feud. Next up on Joe Biden’s to-do list after Kevin McCarthy and the debt crisis? Eric Adams.
Don’t be surprised if New York takes center stage in the presidential race next year—and not at all in the way that the president ever wanted or imagined.