Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Push Comes to Shove

As the NY Times is reporting today, the Bloomberg campaign is beginning to discover its inner Sid Vicious: "He is comfortably ahead in the polls. He has the vast powers of incumbency at his disposal. He has the backing of the city’s most powerful business interests. But that does not seem to be enough for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. As his campaign sought to overpower any candidate considering challenging him, Mr. Bloomberg commissioned a telephone poll last month that spread derogatory information about Representative Anthony D. Weiner, one of the mayor’s possible rivals in the race."

What emerges from this, is the stark reality that the mayor's unprecedented wealth is corrosive of any real democratic process: "Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause, said the episode underscored the dangers of a candidate with unlimited resources. “It just goes to show, if you have too much money in your campaign, you don’t use it productively,” she said. “He’s hired so many consultants who are looking for something to do.”

While the Times continues to do stand out reporting on all things Bloomberg, we are intrigued to see how the editorialists over on Eighth Avenue will treat this corrupting phenomenon-now that the paper did its own self aggrandizing about face on term limits. Can we get more "special interests" than the mayor's own amour propre?

And check out the follicly challenged Wolfson's response to the gilded phone attack: "Asked if the Bloomberg campaign had commissioned the telephone messages, Howard Wolfson, a Bloomberg spokesman, declined to respond directly. But Mr. Wolfson denied that the campaign had engaged in any push-polling. “Unfortunately for Congressman Weiner, the fact that he takes money from lobbyists and special interests, misses votes and has not passed any significant legislation isn’t a push poll — it’s his record,” Mr. Wolfson said."

Of course, overturning the will of the voters, suborning the bumbling city legislature, and buying elections with unheard of cash outlays is, what, good government in the Wolfson weltanschauung? Imagine if Weiner had $100 million to catalogue the Bloomberg Albany fiascos and his stadium bumbling? Not to mention his term limits flipping.

The possibility still exists, however, that this kind of plutocratic heavy handedness will backfire in an age of austerity and resentment. But, as they say, it ain't the way to bet.