Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bloomberg: "We Can Do Better"

In this week's Observer, there's an interesting Mike Bloomberg story that details his "coming down to earth." Apparently he's moving from the sublime of national aspirations, to the ridiculousness of local politics:

"Mayor Michael Bloomberg has returned to planet Earth. With a white-cheeked gibbon swinging from branch to branch and a Malayan Tapir drooping its head over a muddy puddle behind him at the Bronx Zoo, on Nov. 24, Mr. Bloomberg explained why, after all the talk over the last couple of years about the stratospheric national offices he could fill, New York needed him for another term.

"We can improve our schools, but we can do better," Mr. Bloomberg told The Observer during a press conference in the zoo's misty jungle world wing, where staff filled the empty seats between a handful of reporters. "We can diversify our economy, but we can always do better. We can help people get a job and have the dignity of being self-supported, but there's always more to help."

We kinda like the slogan, "We can always do better," and would suggest it to both Anthony Weiner and Bill Thompson; because the question here is, just how well has the mayor actually done?-and, does he merit an extension? These are questions that the Observer eschews-continuing with a form of celebrity copulation that has allowed Bloomberg to skate on so many of the city's key issues.

The paper does, however, puncture the notion that any one else really wanted His Eminence; and that his return to NYC was anything but the lack of any other public platform: "But to hear Mr. Bloomberg's present and former aides tell it, the mayor's decision was a selfless one, necessitated by a sense of duty rather than a lack of options."

So, left with no choice, He returns; and He does so only because of his commitment to serve: "He willingly sacrificed a legacy of unprecedented competence and popularity in order to continue to serve the city. He could have gone back to his company and expanded his empire, they say, or flown into Washington like a financial Superman. "The easiest thing would be to leave and rest on those laurels," said Bill Cunningham, a longtime adviser to Mr. Bloomberg and his former communications director. "He looked around at what's looming for the city and made the decision that he would try to change the law."

Sure, sure-what baloney; the reality here is that Mike Bloomberg has a real power jones, one that is accompanied by a continuing need to have the kind of public attention that elevates his out sized ego. In fact, given the city's prospects we would almost wish a third term on the man: "More importantly, though, the politics of a third term-to the extent that politics were a factor in the decision-simply don't compute. The economy is going to stink, forcing the mayor to execute an unending stream of painful and unpopular budget-balancing maneuvers. The strong-arm move to avoid a referendum and overturn term limits in the City Council has injured, perhaps irreparably, the extra-political brand Mr. Bloomberg had built."

Watching Mike Bloomberg struggle in a third term stimulates the kind of mixed feelings that are said to characterize watching your mother-in-law go over a cliff in your brand new Caddy. It would be pleasant, until you realized it was the city you love that went over the cliff.