Imagine, if you can, that you’re a man, an awkwardly tall man, waking up in your Upper East Side mansion. You turn on the flat screen—the channel’s already set to MSNBC—and mute it as you put on your Lululemon sweats. You step out onto the white-washed veranda, a cup of organic Ethiopian coffee (fair trade) in hand, breathing in the morning dew on the freshly manicured lawn. In about 15 minutes, a black SUV with a police escort will ferry you to the YMCA in Park Slope for your pilates session and then swoop you back to the mansion for the day’s meetings. Rolled up under your armpit is the New York Times reporting that you, the mayor of New York City, have a 43 percent approval rating, and that of all prospective Democratic candidates, you’re the only one with a net negative favorability rating among Democratic voters. The muted bedroom screen shows an MSNBC reporter noting that 76 percent of New Yorkers don’t want you to run for president.
But you don’t see that. Instead, you look out over the lawn and, for a moment, you see yourself looking out over the rest of the country, which from 30,000 feet kind of does look like a big lawn. Then the blades of grass turn into little people and now you’re looking down from the West Terrace of the Capitol and you can just make out the lusty roars from the crowd and you grin and your eyes well up and you begin to wave and, dammit, the hot coffee scalds your hand and runs down your sleeve, staining the Lulu, and you jerk your hand away and the coffee sloshes up and hangs in the air. Time slows and the brown mass in front of you transmogrifies into the specter of your recurring nightmares—Staten Island Charlotte plunging to the ground.
The moment passes, the coffee splashes down and you swallow back the memory of the scowling groundhog. But the ghosts of dead animals past have not finished their work. As you peer down to make sure your white New Balance’s aren’t stained, the seeping brown puddle, for the briefest of moments, takes the outline of the Harlem deer.
You curse Andrew Cuomo as you sidestep it and chuck the remaining coffee out onto the lawn. You breathe out loudly, but then you recall your yogi’s words about finding your center and close your eyes and bring yourself back to your inauguration. Yes, you say to yourself, what America needs is another New Yorker running for president. Yes, I can unite the party around my agenda—and, this time around, the other candidates will show up to my policy forums. Yes, I, who was under investigation for shady fundraising schemes—and who then fired the lead investigator in a naked attempt to obstruct the investigation—am the best person to rid D.C. of Trump’s abuse of power and corruption. Yes, I, who have done nothing to stop the transformation of Manhattan into a billionaire’s playground, and failed to fix the city’s ramshackle Housing Authority, which through ineptitude exposed hundreds of thousands of low-income New Yorkers to lead paint and other health hazards, am the person to “put working people first.”
You open your eyes. The SUV is here. You leave the mug on the railing and type out a short text to about 30 current and former aides: I’m running. You hit send, beaming, and in your moment of triumph you forget about the puddle and clomp into it. As you let out a vein-pulsing profanity that scatters some birds, somewhere in the city one of the aides looks at your text and lets out a laugh: “Fucking insane.”