The Last Time Bloomberg Got All Bipartisan-y

Mayor Bloomberg’s appearance at yesterday’s “No Labels” conference had a hint of a flashback. It was less than four years

Mayor Bloomberg’s appearance at yesterday’s “No Labels” conference had a hint of a flashback.

It was less than four years ago, after all, that the Mayor appeared at a similar convention devoted to transcending party labels and one that set tongues wagging that he would run for President.

As Joyce Purnick recounts in her biography of Bloomberg, the team around the mayor were secretly researching a presidential run soon after the mayor defeated Fernando Ferrer in 2005 and then, as now, Bloomberg began traveling around the world and speaking out on national issues.

The Bloomberg for President boomlet came to a head at the University of Oklahoma, where the mayor appeared on stage with other such luminaries of centrism as Sam Nunn, Chuck Hagel and Christie Todd Whitman.

The statement of purpose that came out of the meeting sounded much like some of the these that were touched upon yesterday:

America is in danger. Our ability to meet and solve the problems that face us is seriously compromised. National surveys reveal that an unprecedented seven out of ten citizens believe that life for their children will not be as good as their own. So we are heading in the wrong direction. We share this deep concern and frustration of the American people.  Approval for the United States around the world has dropped to historically low levels with only one out of four people approving of our country’s actions, even in nations that are our longtime allies.  We have eroded America’s credibility and capacity to lead our urgent global and foreign policy issues, including terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, climate change, and regional instabilities.  Our budget and trade deficits are out of control. We’re squandering our children’s future…

We also asked ourselves in our discussion in the last few hours, Why is it so difficult for our country to act today to meet these challenges which are so obvious to so many? We are failing to address them primarily because rampant partisanship has paralyzed the  ability of our government to act and lead and inspire.  If we allow polarizing politics to continue, we will remain a nation divided. And no matter who is elected this fall, he or she will not have a mandate for governing.  Too many in both of our political parties have sought to energize their bases instead of reaching out to address the issues that concern and affect our nation as a whole. They appeal to extremes and marginalize those in the commonsense center…

As Purnick notes, Bloomberg arrived at the home of university president David Boren and was surrounded by reporters, but coming on the heels of Barack Obama’s surprise showing in the Iowa caucuses, the mayor had missed his moment. 

She writes:

Was he running? Was this the moment? Bloomberg smiled in silence. The reporters tried again. Silence. Retreating to trivia, they asked about the three boxes he was carrying. 

“I always bring a house gift and I could not think of anything more appropriate than three different cheesecakes,” he said. “Are they bipartisan cheesecakes?” a reporter asked…

It had come to that. There was an unspoken sense that evening in Oklahoma that the press corps, not as star-studded as it would have been just three days, had lost its story–and interest. The journalists went through the motions, but their mission had evaporated, in the cornfields of Iowa. 

On January 3, three days before the cheesecake delivery, Obama stunned the country by winning the first primary caucuses of the presidential year. The A-list of the national media had moved not to Oklahoma but to New Hampshire, for its presidential primary on January 8.

The bipartisan conference in Oklahoma had become a footnote.

  The Last Time Bloomberg Got All Bipartisan-y