Photo: Getty

Angela Carter wrote in the novel Wise Children that comedy is tragedy that happens to other people, and I’d like to add that it’s especially funny when those people are politicians, particularly mealy-mouthed Democrats who insist on branding themselves as progressive leaders anyway. On that note, Politico today reports on newly-released emails that show what a disaster New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Progressive Agenda non-profit was: full of comic mishaps, under-attended events, and overpaid consultants.

De Blasio’s non-profit ventures were thoroughly troubled and mostly just an avenue for corruption, particularly his Campaign for One New York.; earlier this year, two lobbyists agreed to pay fines for donating to the Campaign for One New York.

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The Politico story paints a much more amusing picture, however, of the utter disorganization and chaos surrounding his Progressive Agenda, which reportedly “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it on consulting fees” to do.... basically nothing, it seems.

The piece almost reads like a series of Veep episode summaries. For example:

  • De Blasio having to postpone fundraising for the young nonprofit because of a crane collapse in Midtown, leading to his top outside adviser to complain about being “canceled,” presumably not in the Kanye sense.
  • De Blasio asking for advice on what his position should be on Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era rule that prevented banks from using commercial banking funds to invest in risky ventures repealed by Bill Clinton that many progressive activists want to see reinstated. “Hey, what do I think about this?” is about as pure Veep as you could get.
  • Futile attempts to host a bipartisan presidential forum, including a phone call with “influencers” that ended up with only one participant, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, who “could be heard ordering his lunch” during the call. A strategy memo about the proposed forum later asked “HOW DO WE GET HRC THERE?”, a question that was never answered: The forum was canceled.
  • Perhaps most absurd of all, the piece details a plan for the non-profit to screen a documentary titled Hedge Fund Billionaires vs. Kindergarten Teachers: Whose Side Are You On? that became an “unmitigated disaster.” The office couldn’t decide whether or not to promote de Blasio’s involvement in the event, in large part because the film criticized Blackstone, “even though the firm’s executive vice president, Tony James, had provided one of the few favorable quotes praising the mayor in a Vanity Fair profile.” “Not optimal considering Tony James and John gray [sic] have been amongst our most reliable folks in private equity/asset mgmt,” wrote deputy mayor Alicia Glen. Amazing how a progressive non-profit run by people who are too chicken to screen a movie that criticizes hedge funds might have flopped!!!
  • Also, no one then turned up to the event, which literally does happen in the Thick of It, Veep’s British counterpart.

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Just a splendid array of political amusements. Read it here.