"I think it's fair to say that nobody else would take that on. I mean, come on! Forget about the fact that -- "They do what!?" -- Who wants to have 10,000 guys in black hats outside your office screaming?"
From an Atlantic Monthly interview with New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg several weeks ago but just published late yesterday:
Bloomberg understates the scientific and medical evidence against metzitzah b'peh.
Let me circle back quickly to the issue you raised just a second ago, which is how you see your role --
I said one time that if I finish my term in office -- at that time, we were talking about eight years, or four years -- and have high approval ratings, then I wasted my last years in office. That high approval rating means you don't upset anybody. High approval rating means you're skiing down the slope and you never fall. Well, you're skiing the baby slope, for goodness' sakes. Go to a steeper slope. You always want to press, and you want to tackle the issues that are unpopular, that nobody else will go after.
Read the paper today: Do you know what metzitzah b'peh is? You should read the front page of the New York section of The New York Times today. It is a practice that Orthodox Jews --
Yes, of course, of course. [Metzitzah b'peh is the practice during circumcision whereby the mohel sucks the blood from the infant's wound.]
I think it's fair to say that nobody else would take that on. I mean, come on! Forget about the fact that -- "They do what!?" -- Who wants to have 10,000 guys in black hats outside your office screaming?
And yet, I said to the rabbis again yesterday: The science is not perfect, and it is to some extent an art -- medicine -- but there is a reasonable chance that this is dangerous to kids' health. There have been some kids who we believe die or have brain damage from the practice. My obligation is to protect the citizens. I understand freedom of religion. Nobody stood up for it more than me -- go back to the [Ground Zero] mosque, where I got beaten up for doing what was right ...
But worse than that, Bloomberg shows that he's a coward and that he chose not to act earlier because of "10,000 guys in black hats outside [his] office screaming."
For every one of those haredi men Bloomberg so feared, there were hundreds of non-haredi men and women who would have wholeheartedly supported banning metzitzah b'peh when the first deaths and related maimings were made public in 2005.
But Bloomberg allowed babies to be put at risk for seven more years, rather than risk having haredim bloc vote against him.
More babies got sick and more babies were maimed and died as a result.
What a sad, pathetic, weak little man. Money, it seems, not only can't buy love, but it can't buy courage, either.