Monday, December 15, 2008

The Bloomberg Party

In yesterday's NY Daily News, Adam Lisberg writes about the dilemma facing Mike Bloomberg-deciding what party line he could run on: "Politics is a grubby business. And as Mayor Bloomberg tries to figure out which - if any - party banner to run under for reelection, he's going to have to shake some grubby hands. He was a lifelong Democrat, remember, until it served him well to run for mayor twice as a Republican. He threw his support - and his money - behind the GOP, even locking up Democratic New Yorkers to keep the streets safe for out-of-town Republicans during the 2004 convention here."

Quite the quandary for someone who is prepared to spend up to $100 million to convince New Yorkers about just why Mike Bloomberg is Mr. Indispensability for the hard times we face. And we too share Lisberg's concerns about the possibility of Bloomberg sullying himself in the dirt of politics-after spending the last seven years operating as a self-described Mr. Clean: "Bloomberg's third-term appeal was that in times like these, New York needs to keep an independent mayor with singular experience in the financial world. But getting there involves politics. And the more hands you shake, the harder it is to keep yours clean."

The trouble with Lisberg's analysis, is that Bloomberg has been a skillful practitioner of the black arts of politics-so skillful that he's been able to posture as someone with clean hands and a pure heart, when the opposite is more clearly the truth; and he has done so by using his unaccountable private wealth to his political advantage. In fact, in a bow to greater candor, he should simply run on the Bloomberg Party.

In fact, were Mike Bloomberg to become more overtly political, it would actually lead to his cleansing-by forcing him to acknowledge the interests of others as legitimate; and by requiring that he search for ways to address these interests a part of crafting an overall policy that has the greatest benefit for the greatest number of New Yorkers.