Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Bloomberg Boomlet?

By now it is a well-established fact that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has run out of ideas.

Thus, one is tempted to ignore his columns entirely. We should not be rewarding writers who keep repeating the same tired ideas. Allowing him to get away with wrapping those ideas in jejune anecdotes is surely beneath our dignity.

As it happens, many columnists suffer from a special form of envy. The longer they cover politicians and government officials the more they convince themselves that they have missed their calling. They know that they are much smarter than the politicians, so they believe that they should be running things.

They don’t want to keep reporting the news or commenting on the news. They want to make the news.

Yearning to be players, not observers they try to use their column space to influence events. This makes them tools of the politicians, but, if you are Tom Friedman that is probably not an unfamiliar role.

Yesterday Friedman used his column to encourage New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to enter the presidential race as an independent.

I will spare you his lame reasons.

We should consider his column to be a Hail Mary! pass by the Obama re-election campaign.

Tom Friedman walks in the corridors of power. He is on good terms with the Obama administration. He wants Obama to win the election.

Right now, Obama’s prospects seem to be fairly good. Intrade has Obama with a 60% likelihood of reelection.

Yet, if Friedman’s column tells us anything, it tells us that the campaign is worried. Make that… very, very worried.

Unable to defend its record or to run on hope and change again, it has been trying to appeal to one or another interest group with demagogic fear-mongering.

It must know that such tactics are placeholders while it waits for an event that will provide a rationale for victory.

The great minds who are running the Obama campaign also know that a third-party independent candidate, another Ross Perot, can siphon off enough of Romney’s support to throw the election to Obama.

Friedman does not say that he wants Bloomberg to run because he believes that this is the only way for Obama to win, but no sentient adult would think otherwise.

If Friedman is trying to turn Michael Bloomberg into another Ross Perot he has a very short memory indeed. Perot has a down-home folksiness, an ability to touch an audience that Bloomberg lacks entirely.

Perot maintained a bitter personal animus against George H. W. Bush. We have no reason to believe that Bloomberg feels the same way about Mitt Romney.

Perot had never held public office and did not have to defend a record. Bloomberg has held public office and is anything but popular in New York City.

Were Bloomberg to enter the race he would be spending most of his time defending the Ground Zero Mosque and the ban on transfats. Do you think that he really wants to revisit those issues?

If Friedman believes that Bloomberg will make an independent run for president because Tom Friedman thinks it's the patriotic thing to do,  he is using a lot fewer little gray cells than usual.

Who among us thought that that was possible.

Friedman pretends that Michael Bloomberg can save the nation. He has so little respect for the intelligence of those who read his columns that he expects them to believe it.

Maybe he’s on to something.

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