Mighty Mike Saves the Day

Michael Bloomberg is a short Jewish billionaire who became a Republican and spent millions of his own money to get elected mayor of New York City. There are two things to admire about Bloomberg- his shortness and, as Charles Krauthammer said the other day, that he didn’t screw up the amazing accomplishments of his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani. His fans point to Bloomberg’s putative “reform” (aka, centralization of the New York public schools which reformed the previous reform- decentralization). Well, if you think those schools are any better than they were before Bloomberg, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying.

Now Bloomberg seems to be getting ready for a Ross Perot-style independent presidential run. Here’s a look at Bloomberg’s politics via a Wall Street Journal editorial.

An excerpt:

Mayor Bloomberg has been traveling the country, making the case that there’s something rotten in our two-party system. “We do not have to settle for the same old politics,” Mr. Bloomberg said in California. “We do not have to accept the tired debate between the left and right, between Democrats and Republicans, between Congress and the White House.” It’s less than clear what Mr. Bloomberg would prefer in place of debate between Congress and the President–agreement? Abolition of Congress? Debate between the legislative and executive branches and among competing “factions” was designed into our system of government by the Founders.

But his contention that what the country really needs is an executive that transcends politics to “get things done” merits closer scrutiny. In his own words, “any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology.” He added, in a statement that would make any motivational speaker proud, “Working together, there’s no limit to what we can do.”

Terrific. Amid such happy sentiment, it seems churlish to point out that our disagreements about what the country should do are what lead to those debates that Mr. Bloomberg finds so tiresome. But underlying his critique is a belief, inconveniently belied by the evidence, that there is a large American center unserved by our two-party system.

This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of moderates in America, but moderation takes many forms. Antigun, pro-gay-rights, vaguely pro-business (but tax increasing) Mike Bloomberg is one sort. Pro-gun, economically populist Jon Tester, the junior Senator from Montana, is another, different sort. Pro-war Democrat Joe Lieberman is yet another kind. Their differences from each other are at least as important as their supposed moderateness.

As for “rigid adherence to ideology,” it’s hard to understand how President Bush’s current support for immigration reform, Bill Clinton’s signature on welfare reform or George H.W. Bush’s tax hikes fit into this caricature. Pragmatism is not the sole province of the Mike Bloombergs of the world. But calls on our politicians to be more pragmatic are usually, in practice, calls for them to agree with whoever is doing the calling.

And Brent Bozell calls attention to Bloomberg’s busy-body autocratic performance as mayor of New York:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announcing he’s leaving the Republican Party is a little like Madonna announcing she’s leaving the Catholic Church. Was he ever really a paragon of the GOP?

Speculation abounds that he’s running for president on the Ross Perot egotistical-billionaire plan, with press reports citing his intention to spend a cool $1 billion of his personal fortune. That will surely create a headwind, but a big part of the wind beneath his wings will be the support he hopes to generate from the national media.

…Time’s Michael Grunwald cheered that Bloomberg the Action Hero was “talking about saving the planet … opening a climate summit, highlighting his ambitious plan to slash the Big Apple’s carbon emissions.” In a time of “partisanship on crack,” he hailed Bloomberg for advocating an $8 “congestion fee” on commuters to the Big Apple and “leading a national crackdown on illegal guns, along with America’s biggest affordable housing program. He also enacted America’s most draconian smoking ban and the first big city trans-fat ban.”

If you think autocratic mayors are out of control when they ban things like incandescent light bulbs and trans-fats, just wait until you see what happens when they become president. Bloomberg will probably ban the internal combustion engine.

See post from Mark Steyn for more on the pie-in-the-sky politicians.

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