Bill de Blasio has long been spoiling for a fight, just not the one now before him and his city. When he became the 109th mayor of New York, on a colorless winter day in 2014, he promised to lead a struggle against “injustice and inequality.” Although he has had some genuine successes, he has failed to turn the city into a Copenhagen-on-the-Hudson. He hasn’t turned it into Caracas, either. New York is pretty much the same global metropolis it was when he took over.
Aware that his progressive ambitions have been frustrated, de Blasio has complained that legions of enemies—conservatives, capitalists, newspaper headline writers—are arrayed against his vision for the city.
However determined these forces have been to undo him, they are not responsible for what New York magazine called, on March 26, “his worst week as mayor.” Worse than the week in 2014 when two police officers were shot and killed, degrading his relationship with the department. Worse than the many weeks in 2016 of overlapping ethics investigations, which threatened to ensnare the mayor and his top aides.
The enemy, this time around, is very small, in contrast to de Blasio, who is not only tall but somehow enlarged by his own ungainliness (he can perform the impressive feat of filling a room without commanding it). In that enemy’s arsenal is a glycoprotein that protrudes from its surface like the quills of a porcupine. In 1965, researchers decided the glycoproteins made the viral particle they were scrutinizing look like a crown. Resorting to Latin as doctors do, they called it a corona.