Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bloomberg Sounds Good, What’s He Mean?

I just read New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 700-word OpEd article (“I’m Not Running for President, but ...”) in this morning’s New York Times. And I don’t know what he’s talking about, other than he made it clear he’s not planning to run for Prez this time around. How would he implement his vaunted “independent approach” in governing the United States? “We need innovative ideas, bold action and courageous leadership,” Bloomberg said. That can’t be argued. He says he’s done it in New York City. “That’s not just empty rhetoric, and the idea that we have the ability to solve our toughest problems isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dream. In New York, working with leaders from both parties and mayors and governors from across the country, we’ve demonstrated that an independent approach really can produce progress on the most critical issues, including the economy, education, the environment, energy, infrastructure and crime.” If he says he’s done it in New York City, I won’t say he hasn’t. But how he thinks an independent president can solve the nation’s problems was certainly not outlined in his NYT piece. Nor did he say who that independent president might possibly be. And it surely did sound like "empty rhetoric” and “pie-in-the-sky”. “I am hopeful”, Bloomberg wrote, “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.” Real and honest debate between whom? About what? He didn’t say. Bloomberg finished his article by saying, “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.” Bloomberg does not say how he’ll help an independent, nonpartisan candidate win the White House. Money? Maybe. But first, Bloomberg has to find an independent, nonpartisan candidate in the company of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain. If independence and nonpartisanship is guiding the approach of any of these three, none has convinced me of it. And if a truly independent candidate wins the election (if there were a truly independent candidate running for election), how then would this independent president convince the lunkheads in Congress of the wisdom of his/her independent approach? And what would the independent approach of an independent president be? I believe there are many independent-thinking voters in the United States who would love to translate their independent thinking into independent nonpartisan action in Congress. But how could that be accomplished in 2008? It will take many years for our Senators and Representatives gradually to be switched from the hidebound Republican and Democratic pols we now have into a group of nonpartisan independent thinkers, if ever that can happen, which I doubt. What is more likely, at least in the person of Michael Bloomberg, is that he will decide that McCain, or Clinton or Obama is the independent candidate of his dreams, and then he will anoint his choice with words and a mantle of rhetoric that proclaims the person to be an independent with an independent approach, but it will just be old Hillary, or Barack or John dressed up in Bloomberg’s hopes. In fact, no independence or nonpartisan approach can change in even the tiniest way the manner in which politics is now practiced and will be practiced for the next four years. But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will have joined the ranks of wishful thinkers who have more money and words than they know what to do with, who throw both to the winds and then claim they have changed the course of history.


Barry Schwartz said...

I'm a person who does little things now so that they take root in people and over months and years those people change for the better. The brain has to physically change on a microscopic level and it cannot happen rapidly. I have some reason to suspect that Barack Obama works that way, too. One corollary of such a viewpoint is that "success" in making an argument isn't measured in "yes" and "no", but in the quality, rate, and total of cerebral change that can be induced.

Thus four years or eight years are merely the beginning of what Obama can do, if he has the partial understanding of humanity that I think he might.

It is good that Obama is learning to speak in more "specific" terms, because speeches that dive closer to the "concrete" are calming.

pilgrimchick said...

I never got the whole "Bloomberg" thing, in fact. People actually said something when he declared he wasn't going to run for President....months and months after the first contests for delegates had been decided. What, did he think he had a shot at all so late in the game?