Bloomberg’s No Veep

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s friends clearly don’t want him to ease gently back into private life after his second term in City Hall ends next year. Having finally closed the hatch in February on speculation about a self-financed independent bid for the White House, the mayor has more recently popped up as a possible vice presidential candidate, whether he likes it or not. Being human, one guesses Mr. Bloomberg doesn’t overly mind his name being shuffled into a deck whose face cards include Sam Nunn, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, James Webb, Tom Daschle, Ed Rendell, Chuck Hagel, Mitt Romney and various other political heavyweights. And it’s clear some of his aides have done all they can to float the idea of a 2009 sequel, Mr. Bloomberg Goes to Washington, to extend his moment in the sun after two well-reviewed terms as mayor of the country’s most ungovernable city. But Mr. Bloomberg’s talents and style would not be an easy fit for the vice presidency, which after all is a job that Nelson Rockefeller once described as being “standby equipment.”

How does Mr. Bloomberg keep getting himself into these jams, of having to deny he’s interested in jobs he may, in fact, be secretly interested in? Well, it seems to happen over breakfast: last November he shared a midtown coffee shop breakfast with Barack Obama and most of the New York news media. Earlier this month, he shared his morning meal with John McCain at Sarabeth’s. With the coffee not yet cold, people close to the mayor are telling reporters that both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain are courting Mr. Bloomberg as a possible veep, with accompanying glowing electoral stats being marshaled by the mayor’s former pollster, Doug Schoen.

While we’re as happy as the next person to have a New Yorker touted as a national candidate, the Mike Bloomberg who presided over New York these past several years—the mayor who cut crime, guided the city out of the post-9-11 economic crisis and modernized city government—is frankly not the best guy to sit on the porch of Number One Observatory Circle under the cone of silence imposed upon vice presidents. Mr. Bloomberg is too impatient to sit through the state funerals and endless state dinners the second in command is saddled with, nor is he the sort of man who nods along with the partisan message when blunt candor is called for. The fools who must be suffered gladly by vice presidents would find a prickly reception from Mr. Bloomberg.

That’s not to say we wouldn’t like to see Mr. Bloomberg in Washington. Perhaps in a financial capacity—treasury secretary comes to mind—as the mayor has shown a cool head for business and an understanding, backed by conviction, that tough times call for restrained spending. Indeed, should the Democrats win back the White House, having Mr. Bloomberg in the neighborhood could be a worthy foil to those who might be inclined to overspend in the euphoria following the party’s return to power.