Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bloomberg musings

I hope this is the last time I'll feel inclined to discuss the possible independent candidacy of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He's obviously interested, and he apparently has enough money to drop half a billion on a campaign without feeling anything remotely resembling financial pain. However, I have a hard time understanding what appeal he would have. He's popular in NYC, but it's hard to point to any solid achievements there beyond not messing with what Giuliani did -- although Fred Siegel will grudgingly concede that his "contribution to the good times has been limited but consequential."

From a national perspective, it's hard to see what he would contribute to the discussion. With his smoking ban and trans-fat ban he is more Nanny State-oriented than most, but how different he is from a standard-issue moderately liberal Democrat is difficult to discern. Independent candidacies are tough in the U.S., and independents tend to make an impression mainly when they have some important idea the two parties are obviously failing to address, such as the deficit when Ross Perot ran. Neither party is addressing entitlements, which is a huge long-term concern, but is there any evidence Bloomberg is interested? He would have to run on competence and getting beyond partisan bickering in Washington, but he might well have no natural allies in Congress if elected, so that could be a tough sell.

John Judis makes a case that he's more analogous to John Anderson in 1980. He contends that Anderson "provided the margin of victory for Reagan in eleven states," including some that Democrats now routinely win. Therefore, he argues that a Bloomberg candidacy would be more dangerous to the Democrats than to the Republicans.

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