Commentary Magazine


Bloomberg’s NYC “Success” Doesn’t Make Him Presidential Timber

Michael Bloomberg has spent the last week being bashed by leftists and praised by conservatives for finally taking decisive action to get the Occupy Wall Street squatters out of New York’s Zuccotti Park. The episode was a welcome respite from a third term in City Hall that has been as disastrous as most presidential second terms usually prove to be. But is that enough to re-launch to mini-boomlet for a 2016 Bloomberg run for the White House? Politico’s Maggie Haberman picks up on a quote in a long piece in the Daily Beast about Bloomberg News’ “Plan for World Domination” to ponder what the future holds for the mayor.

But though some may agree and see Bloomberg as possessing “the best parts of Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates all rolled into one,” it’s hard to see how the financial/media mogul turned politician fits in on the national scene. It also leaves open the question of whether he would try to parlay his company’s enormous reach and wealth into an effort to form a new political party dedicated to his cause.

There will be those who will say that in the wake of the ideological standoff in Congress on debt, taxes and spending, what we need is a non-ideological technocratic manager like Bloomberg to sort things out. But anyone who is tempted to succumb to the idea of Bloomberg as president should first read the brilliant takedown of his mayoralty “The Bloomberg Bubble Bursts” by Fred Siegel and Sol Stern that appeared in the March 2011 issue of COMMENTARY. In it, Siegel and Stern dissect not only Bloomberg’s poor decisions but the basically corrupt method by which he co-opted dissenting groups by throwing money at them. This is not a method by which a city, let alone a country, can be run successfully.

Though lack of skill in governing is a fault that cannot be overcome by ideological purity, no one should mistake Bloomberg’s uncertain path as he has bounced between liberalism and vague centrism as a model for the nation. While we must expect that a man as powerful and as ambitious as Bloomberg will find sycophants willing to praise him as a possible president, let’s hope his unhappy third term will convince him to eschew future runs for office.