Friday, October 14, 2005

The Money Man

It's about time! With the mayor continuing to spend at a record pace we've been wondering when the press was going to start going after Bloomberg and the monetary disparity between the two candidates. Errol Louis and Juan Gonzales do just that in the Daily News yesterday.

Louis in particular reaches a level of passion on this topic that has heretofore been absent among the commentariat. As he points out, all of the giggling over the poll numbers "glide past the single most important number: $122 million", the total amount spent by Mayor Mike in the last two election cycles.

What the Mayor’s unprecedented spending does, as both Louis and Gonzales allude to, is to make a mockery of an election process where only one voice is being heard and little in the way of meaningful debate about the city's future is able to transcend the advertising din of the Bloomberg message.

Here is the money quote from Louis:
In an earlier age, the city's monied elites would have blanched as the open purchase of the city's highest office by a rich man. The disengagement of those elites from civic life...has opened the door for this purchase of public office to go unremarked and unlamented.
Not to be outdone Juan Gonzalez chimes in:
Our mayor claims he is a leader who can't be bought. Of course not-he's the one doing the buying.
And as Juan points out, the city's good government groups are starting to take notice about how the mayor is "making a mockery of the city's campaign finance laws."

Which brings us to the question we've raised about the public interest, one we have alluded to in our post about the mayor's lack of any real political vision. Bloomberg projects himself as being "above politics" and by doing so reinforces the popular idea that politics is essentially tawdry. If, however, policy is not made in the interplay of "tawdry" interests how will it be made?

The response from the mayor and his campaign is that he is only beholden to the people and not to the "special interests." This simply begs the question of how the will of the people is translated into policy that somehow reflects it (remember the nettlesome issues raised by Rousseau in his discussion of the "general will").

The answer of course is that it is the mayor, and he alone, who will, unencumbered by unseemly obligations, decide where the public interest lies. Once again we refer everyone to Marx's observation about Plato's concept of the philosopher king: "Who will educate the educator?"