Thursday, January 10, 2008

President Mike

Good old Mayor Mike. He finds strikes by public employees morally reprehensible, but greets torturers with the best of them. Is this the sort of "centrist" philosophy our country needs right now? Well, over at Pseudo-Intellectualism, blogger David Bellel stumbled upon a biting analysis by Tom Robbins suggesting President Bloomberg may not be what the country is clamoring for after all:

Michael Bloomberg thinks he hears America calling. He alone hears this call, but that doesn't matter. Unfortunately for us, he is eager to answer...

He needs no stinking caucuses to do this, no treading through New Hampshire snows, no forced smiles through endless living-room chats, no stadium rallies only half-filled with supporters, no late-night flights over frozen cornfields, no town-hall meetings that so easily go awry with one little misspoken word. He need engage in none of these tedious democratic exercises. He will simply buy himself a place on the ballot, just as he did here in New York in 2001.

Now you have to grant that Mayor Bloomberg bought Graycie Mansion fair and square. It was a minor miracle, with Rudy Giuliani's 9/11 ascension from bum to saint, Mark Green's astounding ineptitude, and of course, all that money. But can Bloomberg buy the White House?

Ross Perot tried and failed in 92. Before the race, all I'd known about Ross Perot was what I'd read in Ken Follet's On Wings of Eagles. I thought he was an American hero. By the end of the race he looked like a paranoid lunatic (though in retrospect, he was right about NAFTA). Will Mayor Bloomberg fare better under public scrutiny? It's hard to say. He could talk endlessly about the nebulous "reforms" he's embarked upon here in NYC. But who will listen?

Michael Bloomberg, who couldn't get a crowd to stand on its feet and cheer with real enthusiasm to save his life; Michael Bloomberg, who raises the temperature in the room only when he reaches for his wallet; Michael Bloomberg, who has managed to duck every tough question about the direst issues confronting our country, from Iraq to Iran. Michael Bloomberg will run for president because he hears America calling for change. He alone hears his own name in that same wind, but no matter. He can do so because he can afford to. And that's that.

So he can buy a lot of air time, no doubt. Robbins suggests it would be problematic for Bloomberg to face either McCain or Obama, but any other lineup and all systems are go. As usual, NYC public employees are already on the case:

His full-time Deputy Mayor for Presidential Politics, Kevin Sheekey, keeps track of these small but vital things. Sheekey did such a good job for Bloomberg's re-election that Bloomberg paid him a $400,000 bonus. Back on the city payroll, Bloomberg hiked Sheekey's salary to almost $200,000 a year, this time with our money.

So if you're enjoying "reform," calculated solely to raise test scores, that doesn't actually work, on a local level, here's your chance to see it used all over the country. And if you think billionaires don't have enough power in this country, here's your chance to do something about it.
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