Jewish World Review Dec. 13, 2010 / 6 Teves, 5771
Will the mayor run? Bloomberg could bring down Obama, and lift up Palin
By Jack Kelly
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The most interesting political development last week wasn't the deal President Barack Obama struck with congressional Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts or the bizarre news conference Mr. Obama held to defend it. It was a speech New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave Wednesday morning.
Mr. Bloomberg denied the speech was a precursor to an independent run for president, but, said Ben Smith of the webzine Politico, it offered "the clearest suggestion yet that he's positioning himself for the national stage."
The self-styled "centrist" group "No Labels," which many think is a stalking horse for a presidential run by Mr. Bloomberg (the group denies this), is having its media rollout Monday.
Mr. Bloomberg has expressed contempt for both Republicans and Democrats.
After the Republican landslide in the midterm elections, Mr. Bloomberg told the Wall Street Journal: "If you look at the U.S., look at who we're electing to Congress, the Senate -- they can't read. I'll bet you a bunch of these people don't have passports."
According to Rupert Murdoch, after playing golf with the president, Mr. Bloomberg told him: "I never in my life met such an arrogant man."
Mr. Bloomberg is a billionaire 18 times over. He could spend twice as much as the record $454 million Mr. Obama spent on his presidential campaign and never miss it. This is one reason political consultants have been flocking to Mr. Bloomberg like flies to a pile of horse manure.
His financial resources alone would make Mr. Bloomberg the most potent third-party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt in 1912. In addition, Mr. Bloomberg is in his third term as mayor of America's most populous city, and (obviously) is a successful businessman.
So if he chooses to run, Mr. Bloomberg would have a big impact. But what would that impact be?
This would depend on the state of the economy in 2012, what's happening abroad, the identity of the Republican nominee. But history suggests third-party candidates hurt the party in power most. (Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 and Ross Perot in 1992 caused the defeat of Republican presidents. Ronald Reagan's landslide victory over President Jimmy Carter in 1980 was facilitated by the independent candidacy of Rep. John Anderson, a liberal Republican.)
Mr. Bloomberg's positions on hot button issues also suggest he would take more votes from Democrats. He and the "founding leaders" of No Labels describe themselves as centrists. Most would more accurately be described as limousine liberals who can balance a checkbook.
The economic platform Mr. Bloomberg outlined in his speech Wednesday "largely mirrors the views of the Chamber of Commerce," Mr. Smith said. But on other issues "Nanny Bloomberg" (so named for his crusades against smoking in bars and salt in food) is very much a liberal. He favors construction of the mosque near ground zero, opposes Arizona's immigration law, favors gun control and abortion rights, and has expressed scathing contempt for the tea party.
Geography also suggests Mr. Bloomberg would hurt Democrats more. Mr. Bloomberg figures to be most popular in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, Democrat strongholds all. He is not likely to be very popular in Alabama or Wyoming.
The GOP candidate Mr. Bloomberg probably would hurt most is Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney is more conservative and less egotistical than Mr. Bloomberg. But to most Americans, they're both rich guys from the Northeast.
The GOP candidate Mr. Bloomberg probably would hurt least is Sarah Palin. He has little appeal to people who are crazy about her. And if Mr. Bloomberg were to split with Mr. Obama the votes of people who despise her, that would be all right with Ms. Palin.
Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Palin have a symbiotic relationship of sorts. Her candidacy would be the best rationale for his argument that both parties are too "extreme." His candidacy would give her the best chance of winning.
A Bloomberg candidacy also could have an impact on Mr. Obama's posturing. His deal on the Bush tax cuts and his attack on "sanctimonius" liberals at his press conference defending it seemed to some a clumsy attempt at triangulation -- at having Mr. Obama appear to occupy a middle ground between liberal Democrats in Congress and Republicans.
But if Mr. Bloomberg runs, how could a triangulation strategy work?
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment by clicking here.
JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration.
© 2009, Jack Kelly