From the Guardian Unlimited:
Without clear frontrunners in the US primaries, pressure is mounting on New York mayor Mike Bloomberg to make a decision on launching an independent bid for the presidency.
He has talked with potential running mates; he has criticised candidates on policy; he has been flattered and encouraged by cover stories in Time and Newsweek; and he has paid for polling in every state to gauge potential support.
But officially, at least, the self-made multi-billionaire is sticking to his coy position: denying interest in a possible White House bid while his political team continues to lay the groundwork and infrastructure for one.
But with high expectations that campaigning will now turn bitter and partisan, Bloomberg is running short of time. Calls for a decision are mounting but the excitement is not matched by pollsters detecting a groundswell of support, and the luxury of offering his opinions and winning attention without the risk of counterattack is wearing thin.
Bloomberg’s political calculation depends on being able to run down the centre of the political field – and right now the field is in flux. A Barack Obama nomination gives Bloomberg less room to run than a Hillary Clinton candidacy; a John McCain win makes less room for him, than if Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani were chosen.
If, as many predict, the US is heading for a severe recession, Bloomberg can present himself as an economic pragmatist and deal-maker with a record of founding and running a highly successful business, Bloomberg LP, and who, as mayor, has balanced the city’s books.
Still, the volume and depth of data collected by his team over the past few months leaves no doubt Bloom-berg is still weighing his chances.
‘He’ll wait until the last minute to make a decision on running,’ says one aide. ‘But whether he does or doesn’t, the longer he keeps his name in the public eye the better it is for his company. The sales of Bloomberg [financial information] terminals have never been better …’
So, what about Bloomberg? Savior of the western world? In his own words at the Republican National Convention in 2004:
I want to thank President Bush for supporting New York City and changing the homeland security funding formula and for leading the global war on terrorism.
The president deserves our support.
We are here to support him.
And I am here to support him.
From The Village Voice:
Rudy Giuliani volunteered to pull the switch on Osama bin Laden himself. But Mike Bloomberg has barely mentioned him, referring to him once in four years, and even then, in a joking aside. Asked a week before the first anniversary of 9-11 in 2002 where a missing iconic flag raised over the Trade Center wreckage might be, Bloomberg said he didn’t have any idea. “I don’t know where Osama bin Laden is either,” he quipped. That was it. The same for Al Qaeda itself.
It has become a veritable axiom that the Bush administration’s Iraq fixation has diverted it from apprehending bin Laden, but the mayor of the city Osama savaged has yet to utter an encouraging word about the half-hearted pursuit, much less critique it. In fact, he recently tweaked Fernando Ferrer as a death penalty flip-flopper when Ferrer, very much unlike Mike Bloomberg, raised the specter himself, saying he’d make bin Laden an exception to his “moratorium” on executions. Bill Cunningham, senior adviser to Bloomberg’s campaign, says he “can’t think of the circumstances where the subject of bin Laden would come up,” an echo of the startling Bush declaration that he doesn’t “spend much time on bin Laden, to be honest with ya.”
Bloomberg also recently rebuffed press questions about his position on Iraq, insisting that “it’s not a local issue and I don’t have anything to say.”
Actually, as quiet as the mayor and his media allies would now like to keep it, Bloomberg has been quite willing to address these issues on and off over his mayoral years, invariably rallying to George Bush’s side.
In September 2004, he said to applause from a small Staten Island organization: “I’m voting for George W. Bush and it’s mainly because I think we have to strike back at terrorists. To argue that Saddam Hussein wasn’t a terrorist is ridiculous. He used mustard gas or some kind of gas against his own people.”
Even though the City Council passed a resolution opposing the war, Bloomberg called an old friend, Paul Wolfowitz, to express his desire to host a ticker tape parade “to say thank you,” apparently as unaware as the “Mission Accomplished” president that the troops would not be coming home for years. Bloomberg actually contributed $5 million to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Affairs in the late ’90s, when war architect Wolfowitz was dean.
Asked if Bush was “dishonest” about weapons of mass destruction, Bloomberg said: “I don’t have any idea.”
[New York City has] thousands fewer cops because of Bush’s 90 percent slashing of Clinton’s COPS programs. We had to reprogram FDNY radios because Bush blanched at the $120 million cost of replacing them, even after 9-11’s communication breakdown. Not only has Bloomberg never complained about these security breaches, he’s publicly excused the president for ignoring all the “blinking red” signs of attack that George Tenet described, and refused to criticize him when he defied and undercut the 9-11 Commission, forcing subpoenas and deleting its funding.
He even rushed to Bush’s defense when the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general blasted the White House for doctoring press releases after 9-11 to portray “hazardous” air quality findings as safe, a distortion that’s led to lung damage for thousands of firefighters and others at ground zero. “I know the president,” Bloomberg said when confronted with the shocking findings. “I think he’s a very honest guy. It would never occur to me not to trust him.”
From Glenn Greenwald at Salon:
Bloomberg is basically just Rudy Giuliani with a billion or two dollars to spend to alter the election. When it comes to foreign policy, war-making and government power, he offers absolutely nothing that isn’t found in destructive abundance among the most extremist precincts in the Republican Party, while his moderate to liberal stance on social issues would prevent him from actually winning the support of his natural GOP base.
In fact — despite his steadfast neoconservatism — it’s hard to see how the candidacy of a divorced, unmarried, stridently pro-gun-control, pro-choice, socially liberal New York City billionaire would accomplish anything other than offering the Republicans their best hope of winning in 2008. All of this seems to be intended as punishment meted out by the Establishment to the Democrats — using Bloomberg’s billions as the weapon — for not repudiating their loudmouth, restless liberal base strongly enough. That, more than anything, seems to be the oh-so-noble and trans-partisan purpose of David Broder, David Boren and Sam Nunn: to find a way to stifle the populist anger at our political establishment after 8 years of unrestrained Bush-Cheney devastation, increasingly represented (on the Democratic side) by the Scary, Angry, Intemperate John Edwards campaign.