Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Political Hermaphrodite

Thanks to Liz, we now know that Mike Bloomberg's political identity is, well, amorphous, to say the least. How else to explain his willingness to woo the Working Families line for the fall mayoral election? "Now that Mayor Bloomberg has locked down the Republican and Independence Party ballot lines in his reelection bid, he can turn his attention to a more elusive target: the labor-backed Working Families Party. Even as Bloomberg campaign aides worked to shore up GOP support, they have been quietly meeting with leaders of the WFP and key union officials whose votes will be crucial to landing the party's endorsement."

We know that politics makes strange bedfellows, but we never thought that the bed would be big enough for Mike Bloomberg and the "tax everything that moves," WFP: "One labor leader said Bloomberg's campaign has been "diligently working" the WFP's executive committee and "relentless" in its pursuit of union support. They've dispatched multiple emissaries to woo labor leaders."

All of which underscores, not that Mike Bloomberg is someone with independent political judgment, but that he is a political hermaphrodite who will align himself with anyone and anything that promotes his own self interests-which kinda describes the WFP if it decides to go with the man who seems to stand on the opposite side of the political divide from the "Millionaire Tax" Party. As the NY Times tells us this morning:

"Declaring that “we love the rich people,” Mr. Bloomberg has opposed capping executive pay, increasing the capital gains tax or raising income taxes on the wealthy. He has gushed about Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, saying he “walks on water,” and praised Henry M. Paulson Jr.’s Goldman Sachs résumé. Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire many times over, has also vouched for vilified Wall Street titans like Richard S. Fuld Jr., the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers.“There’s Lehman Brothers, who I feel very sorry for,” he said during a news conference. “Dick Fuld, I’ve known for 40 years, who’s a competent guy, and people are criticizing him. They didn’t criticize him when things were going well for an awful lot of years.”

But the mayor thinks that all this means is that he makes no decisions based on purely political considerations-as if his own self perpetuation was an apolitical gift to New Yorkers: ""And I don't think anybody can put in the back of their minds the fact that we live in a real world where there is politics involved. And you might praise things or go to places. But any serious decision we've ever made has been without it. And I think you can just go back and take a look at a number of positions that I've taken which have not been politically popular, particularly when your newspaper is demanding I fire somebody or demanding I change my view."

Of course, with the newspaper marching in class step with their billionaire brother, we tend to believe Mike's view here; but that doesn't mean, however, that the Bloombergistas are making all the decisions strictly on "the merits." What it means often is that the mayor-belonging to a cohort of Wall Street brigands-simply decides stuff on the basis of his own narrow world view; one that is circumscribed by class and wealth. In this context, a healthy political perspective would be an improvement.