Bourgeois Deviant

Friday, June 22, 2007

On Bloomberg '08

In between feeding and looking after my kid, I pay a mild attention to the news. What I have heard is a great hubbub about is the punditocracy's titillation over New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's defecting from the Republicans and the potential that brings for his presidential prospects in the 2008 race. Initially I thought little of it. He'll just be another candidate, but without a party. Perhaps another H. Ross Perot but certainly not a Ralph Nader.

Then, during BFD's nap time, I blue skied this a bit more. I have an acquaintance who works within the city government and has known about the Bloomberg '08 potentiality as rumor for some time. As memory serves, she was all for it. That is what drove me to consider it further. And, though it is by no means an endorsement, I am all for it.

Allow me qualify my position. No candidate is ideal. Just consider Bloomberg relative to rest of the field of candidates. Firstly, he's done more for New York than Guilianni did. Rudy may have had to oversee the worst disaster in American history, but Bloomberg had to handle the aftermath and clean-up. In case you hadn't noticed, he's done quite well. I can't say I am pleased with all the things he has done (read: Brooklyn Rail Yards). Gentrification is inevitable as part of an evolving urban landscape. It comes and goes. But, when aided by government policy and backing, moneyed interests always seem to win out and the average city dweller gets shafted some way, some how. So, take this as one big reason Big Mike isn't going to get my rubber stamp.

Being a big business kind of guy, Bloomberg is bound to appeal to the pro-business Republicans. The Christian Right won't be greeting him with open arms, however. So, he effectively splits the GOP. Big Mike has done a great deal to green the Big Apple. His mandate to get all taxis to be hybrids in short order is grand and he's approved many green-space projects for the city. He's also done a great deal to lessen the carbon footprint of New York City by pursuing alternative energies like tidal energy, wind, and solar power. He openly acknowledges the fact of Global Warming. He'll garner a great number of progressive votes with theses notches in his political belt.

Lastly, the most attractive thing about Mike Bloomberg as a candidate for President of the United States is that he could independently finance his entire campaign. Dan Balz of the Washington Post speculated the other night on The News Hour that Bloomberg could spend $500 million of his own cash without breaking a sweat. This is an alluring fact in that it makes Big Mike truly an independent candidate. He would be beholden to no special interest group. Bias, be it progressive or conservative would potentially be solely at his whimsy and not at the behest of some fat cat lobby another candidate might owe the office to. That would be a refreshing change from the examples set in the present administration. (Remember Cheney's Energy Task Force?)

As Mayor, Mike Bloomberg has been a consummate populist. As a business man, he's been a hard nosed executive with a remarkable track record. But as a candidate for the most powerful office in the land, he's not without his faults, depending on where you're coming from. He's not charismatic. Frankly, he's a bit robotic from the times I have seen him speak. Charisma is integral to leadership, for the most part. So, strike one. Strike two will come from the social and religious conservatives. Big Mike has been seen waving the rainbow flag. Personally, its a point in his favor, but have you seen how many red states are out there? As to his actual preference, its been subject to speculation, but it will be an issue despite the fact that it shouldn't be.

At the very least, Bloomberg will make the race for the White House interesting. Like Sharpton in 2000 and 2004, he will be able to bring certain issues into the arena of discussion whereas other more politically entrenched candidates might not. Unlike Sharpton, he'll be a real threat to the candidates from the established parties and, hopefully, keep them somehow honest. Third party candidates have traditionally been a bit of a joke in modern American politics. Not since Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose party staged its upset has anyone mounted a credible threat aside from that of spoiler. Bloomberg is potentially more than spoiler material.

One can argue about national security experience and many other issues to disqualify Bloomberg from contention. However, he's been dealing with the biggest target city in the post 9/11 world. I'd say this is an endorsement of his viability hand over fist compared to Rudy Giuliani. Recall that just recently, reports about Rudy's national security strengths have shown him to be quite other than strong on national security.

At the end of the day, all this presents is another option. Bloomberg, like Obama, has accurately assessed that things are broken in this country and disparately need fixing. The two party system, it can be argued, is not serving this nation well. If it came down to certain candidates winning their party's nomination, Bloomberg might actually get my vote. That is, if he runs.

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