At the rate things are going, instead of wondering if he can win, many of us may be signing petitions begging Michael Bloomberg to run for president. A choice between Hillary Clinton and the greasy Mitt Romney or ex-lobbyist Fred Thompson or one of the GOP’s backbench holy rollers will have millions asking, Is that all there is?
The answer is no—there is the improbable New York mayor. He is half a Democrat already and thus an attractive figure for the millions of Ds who will not vote for Hillary. Meanwhile, the big business side of the Republican Party has a lot to like in Mike. The pro-amnesty-for-illegals element in the party will see something in him, as will the globalists, the free traders and that segment of the business world that cannot tolerate deceptive public bookkeeping and the enormous deficits for which such tricks are used by the Bush administration.
From his first day as mayor Mr. Bloomberg acted like a man who wanted to get things done more than he wanted to be reelected. Politicians content with one term, if that’s what it takes to get something done, come around as often as Halley’s Comet. He did the unpopular and it turned out to be popular, as he took on the intractable school system, the intractable trash situation and the intractable traffic problem, and is presiding over a city that never operated within its means but now has a surplus.
If elected, Mr. Bloomberg would join George Washington and Herbert Hoover as one of our three richest Presidents. In Washington’s and Hoover’s careers their money did not play a role in their election. It would with Mr. Bloomberg.
The tactical advantage conferred on a self-financed candidate has been much talked about. The post-election benefits it confers have not been remarked upon, but they’re powerful. A candidate who does not owe his election to the money supplied by special-interest groups goes into office with a commensurately greater freedom of action.
In Mr. Bloomberg’s case, he also would be free of a resident’s need to be raising money for his political party, with the obligations that entails. Mr. Bloomberg is an independent, and were he to be elected, he would be the first president since Washington to govern without a close affiliation with a party or faction.
Mr. Bloomberg would find himself without the support a president can assume he will get from members of his party in Congress. He will be positioned, however, to play the Democrats and the Republicans off each other, as members of both parties besiege him for patronage, favors and support. To the extent an independent president can keep his popularity in the country, he may be in a position to form temporary coalitions and alliances to get things done, which other presidents, handicapped by their party loyalties, have been unable to do.
Such musings are well and good but they presume this guy can get elected; as history teaches, the odds of any particular person getting elected to that job are slim. At first glance it seems preposterous, but take another look and it might make sense.
George Washington loomed over his contemporaries, and ever since we seem to have preferred to put tallish men in the White House. Mr. Bloomberg could try wearing Adler’s Elevated Shoes, but politicians caught doing stuff like that get laughed at. Mr. Bloomberg’s best move here is, as they say in his city, to fuhgeddaboudit.
The divorce business may be a more serious problem in the present cloying national atmosphere of family values. Until Ronald Reagan, divorce was thought to be an absolute disqualifier for the big job. Reagan showed that if you offered people enough so they truly wanted you, the divorce question was brushed aside at the polls. That Mr. Bloomberg is divorced and has not remarried would make him the first White House bachelor since Grover Cleveland, who married once in the White House (but who famously became a father without the benefit of marriage before becoming president).