Bloomberg: King To Kingmaker?

posted at 9:50 am on February 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Michael Bloomberg has decided not to run for president, but he will likely decide on an endorsement in the next few weeks. The mayor of New York City opts out in today’s New York Times, but he makes clear that he will remain engaged as an independent voice — and that he’s looking to see which candidate displays that kind of party-independent leadership:

I believe that an independent approach to these issues is essential to governing our nation — and that an independent can win the presidency. I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president. I have watched this campaign unfold, and I am hopeful that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership. The most productive role that I can serve is to push them forward, by using the means at my disposal to promote a real and honest debate.In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance. And while I have always said I am not running for president, the race is too important to sit on the sidelines, and so I have changed my mind in one area. If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.

Independence in political approach sounds terrific — but it has become more of a fetish than a real platform. Especially with Bloomberg, it descends into platitude when it doesn’t get accompanied by a defined set of policies. What constitutes independent thought? What policies does it entail? Or is it just another way of saying, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

It sounds like “hope and change”, and we already have that platitude in buckets for this cycle.

Bloomberg himself turned out to be more or less a liberal statist as mayor, with the questionable exception of law and order. The man who banned restaurants from using trans-fats doesn’t qualify as a moderate, at least not any more. He has governed the Big Apple as a typical center-left Democrat would, still a large improvement over the doctrinaire liberal David Dinkins, but more a return to Ed Koch, without the humor.

So who would get Bloomberg’s support? Given this essay, one can easily predict Barack Obama. It won’t make much difference that Obama’s agenda doesn’t show a whit of independence from the Democratic Party platform; Bloomberg wants platitudes, and Obama produces them prodigiously. Bloomberg’s talk about unity and change fits nicely with Obama’s campaign rhetoric.

However, Bloomberg as kingmaker will be much less effective than Bloomberg as candidate. If he ran as an independent, Bloomberg could use as much of his own money for the race as he liked, and he has tons of it. He could drop a billion dollars and make himself at least into the Ross Perot of 2008, and he might even win a couple of states, which Perot couldn’t do. He can’t drop that kind of money into someone else’s campaign, though he could prove a highly successful fundraiser. It will not have anywhere near the impact of his own candidacy, and what’s more, it will reduce his profile as an “independent” the moment he signs onto either a Democratic or Republican campaign.

Of course, Bloomberg can always change his mind, claim to be disgusted at the tenor of the campaign, and launch his own bid for the presidency. He could wait until the conventions to do that and catch the other campaigns flat-footed. He would have learned that much from Ross Perot.

Update (AP): Baseball Crank thinks Bloomy’s going to surprise us with a McCain endorsement.


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Update (AP): Baseball Crank thinks Bloomy’s going to surprise us with a McCain endorsement.

I tend to agree. Reports were that since McCain was in, Bloom’s window to run was closed. Bloom’s tight with Rudy, who’s tight with McCain. And re: the “unity” thing, it could be his way of teeing up the person he’s not endorsing, and knocking him down when he gets around to making his mind known.

Or I could be completely wrong.

Vizzini on February 28, 2008 at 9:57 AM

Too bad Michael Bloomberg decided not to be a national hypocrite-liar and not to join the rest of the crooks who are fighting each other and fooling people to access a powerful position and who will be remembered, many years from now, by other fools.

Stick to New York, prepare for the next attack, instead, bud.

Indy Conservative on February 28, 2008 at 9:58 AM

Bloomberg is a shining example of your typical multi-millionaire blowhard politician who wants everyone to hear the sound of his voice, nevermind the fact that 99.9% of what comes flying out is blather. The guy can’t even make up his mind what he wants to be. One day he is a Republican, then he’s an Independent, then he leans to the Democratic side, then shifts back another direction. He’s like one of these roly-poly dolls who rocks all over the place, but just can’t stay to one side for long.

pilamaye on February 28, 2008 at 10:02 AM

Will anybody really care who this doofus endorses?

funky chicken on February 28, 2008 at 10:06 AM

Beat it, Bloomberg. Maybe you and Romenee can go yachting together.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 28, 2008 at 10:10 AM

“Independent” = ME!!

kcluva on February 28, 2008 at 10:14 AM

I foresee a McCain endorsement myself. Bloomberg is a businessman first and foremost, I see it, and won’t stand for the kind of economic destruction that an Obama presidency would entail.

amkun on February 28, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Bloomy’s problem is that there isn’t enough room on the political left-right spectrum between McCain and either Hillary or Hussey. Frankly, that’s our problem too.

MT on February 28, 2008 at 10:23 AM

I foresee a McCain endorsement myself. Bloomberg is a businessman first and foremost, I see it, and won’t stand for the kind of economic destruction that an Obama presidency would entail.

amkun on February 28, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Being a Multi-Billionaire shelters you from such inconveniences as a down market can cause us common-folk. I don’t think its much of a concern to him.

Obama better be telling the truth that he quit smoking or else he’ll feel the wrath of Bloomy!

kcluva on February 28, 2008 at 10:27 AM

Seriously, does his endorsement really matter? Is anyone going to vote for Triceratops over Obama on the strength of Bloomberg’s vote of confidence (or vice versa)? If the Hitler-like regime in NYC is to your liking, you probably are leaning whatever way Bloomberg wants you to vote anyway.

highhopes on February 28, 2008 at 10:36 AM

If the Hitler-like regime in NYC is to your liking, you probably are leaning whatever way Bloomberg wants you to vote anyway.

hahaha this is funny. “Hitler like” come now. I’ve been a NYC resident for 15 years now, and not only do I feel safer, I feel less put upon by the cops than I did under Rudy.

I’m not even saying I had an issue with Rudy, but me, a middle class white college kid would regularly get bothered by the cops under the Rudy administration…now not so much.

Seriously, have you been to NYC in the last 5 years…yeah sure you can’t smoke in a bar (which actually helped me considerably when I quit smoking), and you can’t get trans fats. Can that really be compared to Krystalnacht or the furnaces of Buchenwald?

Watch your metaphors Mr. O’Riley…you may just run into someone who know what they’re talking about.

beefytee on February 28, 2008 at 10:55 AM

I foresee a McCain endorsement myself. Bloomberg is a businessman first and foremost, I see it, and won’t stand for the kind of economic destruction that an Obama presidency would entail.

amkun on February 28, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Being a Multi-Billionaire shelters you from such inconveniences as a down market can cause us common-folk. I don’t think its much of a concern to him.

Obama better be telling the truth that he quit smoking or else he’ll feel the wrath of Bloomy!

kcluva on February 28, 2008 at 10:27 AM

funky chicken on February 28, 2008 at 10:59 AM

I wish Bloomberg would dry up and blow away. There is nobody I could have less concern about. I really don’t understand the constant stories about him. I don’t think anyone cares one iota about who he may or may not endorse.

echosyst on February 28, 2008 at 11:01 AM

Being a Multi-Billionaire shelters you from such inconveniences as a down market can cause us common-folk. I don’t think its much of a concern to him.

kcluva on February 28, 2008 at 10:27 AM

I suppose Bloomberg could pull a Warren Buffett and turn all socialist on us after he’s used America to make his bajillions, but I tend to think that most wildly successful businessmen have certain instincts.

amkun on February 28, 2008 at 11:09 AM

I suppose Bloomberg could pull a Warren Buffett and turn all socialist on us after he’s used America to make his bajillions, but I tend to think that most wildly successful businessmen have certain instincts.

amkun on February 28, 2008 at 11:09 AM

One can always hope, but the way this holier-than-thou elitist governs, I tend to doubt it.

I really do believe whether Obama smokes or not will have more to do with the Nanny’s endorsement than economics.

kcluva on February 28, 2008 at 11:13 AM

I really do believe whether Obama smokes or not will have more to do with the Nanny’s endorsement than economics.

kcluva on February 28, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Cute. I think Capt.Ed might have missed that particular wrinkle in an otherwise excellent essay.

JiangxiDad on February 28, 2008 at 11:32 AM

I’ve been deliberately ignoring and articles about the mayor-who-shall-not-be-named for several months now, hoping there would be no interest and that he’d just go away.

Connie on February 28, 2008 at 11:43 AM

oops…no “and” in there.

Connie on February 28, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Bloomberg inherited a safe city from Rudy and basically has put it on cruise control which enabled him to indulge in his nanny state tendencies. This was a guy who New Yorkers said we should thank the CEO of Con Ed (the power utility company) for working so hard to restore power to 100,000 customers in Queens (another borough of NYC) when they were without power for almost 3 weeks a couple of years ago. The Chairman of Con Ed said in essence s”I don’t deserve any thanks. We failed in our job.” To the many Rudy bashers on Hot Air, I have been a lifetime New Yorker and Rudy turned the city around by first attacking the ‘quality of life’ issues that made living here so painful.

Hilts on February 28, 2008 at 12:36 PM

As a follow-up to my Bloomberg piece, someone described Bloomberg as having “the bedside manners of a claims adjuster.”

Hilts on February 28, 2008 at 12:37 PM

Don’t care who he endorses, He’s a lefty and there are no real rightys running only leftys and who claims to be a righty but isn’t

limowilliam on February 28, 2008 at 12:38 PM

oops should say and one who claims. my bad

limowilliam on February 28, 2008 at 12:40 PM

I endorse this guy.

- The Cat

MirCat on February 28, 2008 at 2:55 PM