Friday, February 27, 2009

Mayoral Incoherence

You'd think that with all of his money Mike Bloomberg could afford to buy a set of coherent principles. Instead, we get to witness the spectacle of the mayor speaking incoherently out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to the concept of partisanship in political life. Liz Benjamin brilliantly exposed this "Who's On First" routine yesterday: "Mayor Bloomberg really gave his bipartisan muscle a workout today as he strove to explain to reporters how he is a big fan of the two-party system and also a supporter of both Barack Obama AND John McCain."

If you find it hard to grasp where Bloomberg is coming from on this issue, you are definitely not alone; and to hear him discuss party politics brings back echoes of the eloquence of George Bush: "Asked to clarify reports that he told the GOP county chairs he supported John McCain for president, Bloomberg replied:

"I didn’t say that all. I’ve never said who I voted for. I did vote for one of the major candidates. I have to work for everybody in this city and work with whoever got elected - in this case, President Obama, who I did say yesterday I thought had the potential to be a very good president."
"I think everybody on both sides of the aisles should hope that he is. We need a good president. This country is facing some very serious problems. I did say that John McCain is a friend of mine. He campaigned for me in 2001 and I’ve always respected him. He and his family are the quintessential American family...But I certainly did not say who I supported, nor will I."

Of course, to come right out and say that you voted for McCain wouldn't be politically expedient; except when speaking in private to the chairs of the Republican Party. Which is why we get the mayor acting as if he wanted to replace Lou Costello in that famous rhetorically contorted comedy routine: "On the subject of whether he believes Rudy Giuliani would make a better governor than David Paterson - another claim the GOP county chairs say he made during yesterday's meeting - the mayor said he doesn't think "you can do those kinds of comparison" because the 2010 race is "way down the road." "Right now, I'm supporting David Paterson," Bloomberg said. "I’m going to do everything I can to help David Paterson be the best governor that we have ever had, and I hope that he will be. And if you don’t think that he should be the best governor than I think there is something really wrong. We need a really good governor and David Paterson has been standing up and making the tough decisions."

Somehow we don't think that's just how Bloomberg framed the governor's race when talking in private to the likes of Phil Ragusa, do you? And when it comes to his rather famous-and ill informed-view of the role of political parties, Mike's backpedaling furiously as his political context shifts: "He said he has "always been in favor of having two parties so that there is healthy dialogue and everyone gets representation." (This is a bit of a departure for a man who is one the record as calling political parties "a swamp of dysfunction")."

Which is precisely why we labeled Bloomberg, "The Great Impostor." He'll play whatever political role that expediency requires-anticipating that he can overwhelm the voters' clarity of perception with an avalanche of expensive disinformation. In this, PT Barnum's observation comes to mind: “you never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

Benjamin ends her post with the following flourish: "Bloomberg then recalled that Rudy Giuliani had crossed party lines in 1994 to endorse then-Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo for re-election when he ran against then-GOP Sen. George Pataki - a move that led ex-Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno to call Giuliani "Judas" and for which some Republicans still haven't forgiven the former mayor. Kind of an odd thing to bring up when you're trying to convince the Republicans to let you run on their ballot line."

This should act as a potent reminder to those Republican chairs who are asking Mike Bloomberg to once again hold the political football so that the party can kick a winning field goal. If you go ahead along this path, our advice is don't be mad when you find yourselves flat on your backs-complaining about the lack of Republican jobs and principles in the third term of a dissembler who can only be counted on for one thing: a failure to keep his word.