Tony the Tour Guy's Blog

A not very regular series of posts on New York City history, historic preservation, genealogy and related themes.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Dan Quayle of City Hall

In 1932 the flamboyant (and incredibly corrupt) Jimmy Walker resigned from the mayoralty in order to join his paramour in Europe. In a special interim election, John Patrick O'Brien was elected to finish the term. Although O'Brien was a Tammany hack just like his predecessors, he lacked some of their gift of blarney. Three incidents speak for themselves:

Attempting to woo the Jewish vote, O'Brien told the assembled members of a synagogue how he had always admired that great scientist "Albert Weinstein."

Speaking before a Harlem audience, O'Brien tried showing some solidarity with the listeners by stating "My heart is as black as yours."

Tammany Hall leaders had been busy trying to convince the press that they had no control over whom the Mayor appointed to various posts. In responding to questions from reporters about whom the new Police Commissioner would be, O'Brien replied, "I don't know. They haven't told me yet."

Source: Robert A. Caro, THE POWER BROKER, NY, Vintage Books, 1975


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