Friday, February 20, 2009

Mayor Disdains Driving a Hugo

As Clyde Haberman writes today in the NY Times, Mike Bloomberg and the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez do have something in common-even though Chavez clings to the trappings of democracy with greater assiduousness than the imperial mayor does: "In our city, the political leadership does not return to the voters on a matter already decided by plebiscite — like limiting elected officials to two consecutive terms. In our city, the leadership acts on its own, as the mayor and a slender majority of the City Council did to give themselves a chance to hold onto power for a third consecutive term. They simply overrode the results of two referendums and reworked the rules to their advantage."

Chavez, however, appears to have a greater sensibility for appearances than Blomberg and his court retinue at the city council does: "The man who went back to the people was President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Though widely reviled in this country as a despot and even a buffoon, Mr. Chávez did something that New York’s mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, would not bring himself to do."

Bloomberg, for his part bristles at the comparison: "The mayor was asked the other day if Venezuela’s experience gave him second thoughts about how he went about changing the city’s term limits law. The question made Mr. Bloomberg cross. Peevishness at news conferences is often his default position these days. “What on earth do we have to do with Hugo Chávez?” he snapped."

The peevishness in this case is apropos because the torch of dictatorial buffoonery has been definitively passed-one of the few things that Mike Bloomberg didn't have to buy prior to the city council vote; or in the upcoming election cycle. And the final say on this is still awaiting the actions of the Justice Department: "Perhaps the most intriguing test of the revised law lies with the Justice Department. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it must give its blessing to election-law changes, to make sure that no harm comes to racial and ethnic minorities." And, of course, the mayor's usurped third term run will likely Trump-as in tens of millions of campaign cash-the efforts of an African-American to win the mayoralty.

And Haberman underscores our comments about the mayor's new found partisan political ardor-angling it would seem for the kind of marriage of convenience that many folks in his class have been known to tolerate as understandable monetary arrangements: "He had thumbed his nose at all political parties, pronouncing himself far too lofty for such riffraff. That was before he decided to run for a third term. Now he needs them — some of them, anyway — to get a decent spot on the November ballot."

Will the Republicans take the money and let Bloomberg run? As Haberman says, it comes down to pride-or perhaps political belief-or money. People are betting that Mike Bloomberg, having purchased everything else, will be able to drag the less than grand old party into that final altar-ing experience. Hopefully not; nothing would be more deserving than Bloomberg-on the Bloomberg Forever Party-running for the term altered term on Line H.