Tuesday, September 14, 2010

P. T. Bloomberg

Well, well, look whose resurrecting his national profile-again; it's Mayor Mike and Politico's Maggie Haberman is doing the honors: "Term-limited New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is at work expanding his national profile, delivering a string of high-profile candidate endorsements around the country and using his outsized megaphone to become a spokesman for swaths of disgruntled elites who were once part of President Barack Obama’s base. What he wants isn’t entirely clear. The mayor, armed with a $15 billion fortune, publicly denies in the most emphatic terms—death, incapacitation—any interest in cutting short his third term to run for higher office.

So, what's up with this farcical exercise in self promotion? No one's really sure, but there's enough folks out there who wouldn't turn down Bloomberg's money-and perhaps even the president would grasp at a billion for the Veep slot for Mike. But in the end, the Bloomberg money is enough to keep a certain buzz about the mayor alive and well. Haberman, however, expends way too much ink with copious encomiums to the gazillionaire-barely leaving room at the end of her piece for a small discouraging word of cold water.

But first there is the speculation: "He has endorsed both Republicans and Democrats in House and Senate races across the country the cycle, with an apolitical litmus test that depends on whether they fought for either his own city's interests or for the mayor’s own pet causes, such as gun restrictions or education reform." Distilled, it has little or nothing to do with any philosophical position-unless solipsism is now considered a branch of moral reasoning.

One of our favorite comments comes from one of the early architects of the McCain campaign-and the words feel covered with saliva: "Mike Bloomberg has become the political gold standard for governance, ethics and transparency. At a time when people have given up faith that government can do anything, Bloomberg has proven that government can actually work in the toughest city in America," said an admiring Mark McKinnon, a former George W. Bush senior adviser who declined to work against Obama in 2008." (pant, pant)

But what exactly would be the mayor's constituency? Why, elites it seems:

"Bloomberg offered public disavowals regarding his political future in 2008—even as his aides explored the possibility of an independent run and ballot access laws in depth—pulling the plug only when the nominees emerged. But some of his backers have never given up the idea, and see an opening in the current restive political environment. At a minimum, the talk—combined with the billionaire’s ability to instantly plunge more money into advertising, mail and field operations than any major-party nominee (including the president) will likely be able to raise for 2012—makes him impossible to dismiss. At the same time, Bloomberg has become something of a spokesman for swaths of elites who comprised President Obama's base in 2008 but have become disenchanted with him—ranging from Wall Streeters enraged by the new financial reform bill to liberals who support the ground zero-area mosque."

With the kind of money that Bloomberg is able to spend, it appears that the money goes a long way to inculcate delusional thinking. Imagine being the spokesman for disenchanted elites-and further imagine the kind of political wind at the mayor's back that this will generate. This, friends, all comes down to Bloomberg's checks appeal-because in the current political climate, Mike Bloomberg is the anti-hero. As a liberal defender of Wall Street, the ground zero mosque and almost open borders-not to mention his nanny interference with personal liberty-Bloomberg is operating consistently against the popular will; and we haven't even mentioned his tax raising, anti-small business proclivities.

So, in our view, this Bloomberg boomlet is P. T. Barnum like-with the mayor believing, perhaps, that after having successfully bought off the sophisticated New Yorkers, the less savvy American suckers at large can't be too difficult a challenge. But this is one prize that will elude the mayor's long armed monetary reach-and that judgment comes in spite of our deep seated hope that the money grubbers around him will convince him to spend quixotically and make a total ass of himself.

But finally, after all of this breathless speculation we make it the conclusory evaluation at the end of the Haberman narrative: "Few expect him to actually make a run, in part because the risk of failure is high and the viability of a socially liberal, Jewish mayor from New York—something he himself points out frequently—is questionable. And Elmendorf  {Democratic strategist}noted that Bloomberg's actual name recognition outside cable network-centric New York is probably "not as strong as he thinks it is."

But in the mayor's case, that's a good thing, because in our view familiarity would only bring contempt.