So many billionaires, so few voters.
Self-made billionaire Michael Bloomberg has threatened to toss his proverbial hat into the presidential two ring-ringer, turning it into the finest three-ringed affair since chart-toting, millionaire businessman’s Ross Perot’s presidential bid in 1992. The turkey-necked Perot’s run was one of the most successful third-party bids in electioneering history, drawing enough GOP votes away from fellow Texan Pappy Bush to propel young Bill Clinton into the White House.
Bloomberg, according to press reports, only will run in the narrow circumstance that Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination and fellow New York billionaire Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination. Obviously, Bloomberg, a well-known Anglophile who keeps a Downton-esque townhouse in a posh area of London, the city where his international headquarters stands, judges himself to be a less offensive, more polished plutocrat than Trump and a more restrained, realistic lefty than Sanders.
Why Bloomberg is floating a possible run at this juncture that is a mystery worthy of examination. I suggest it’s a matter of jealousy as opposed to careful strategy. Billionaires, after all, are notoriously competitive bunch. But Trump is garnering most of the steady attention these days. The master of self-promotion is a daily obsession of the public and the press. He’s more quotable that Warren Buffet, more colorful than Bill Gates, and has the common touch lacking in the Koch brothers.
Bloomberg enjoys attention. He schmoozes with the gossip writers. But evidence suggests that Bloomberg believes unrestrained self-promotion by one’s self in the style of Trump is crass.
Bloomberg prefers to be an arms-length away from his own public grandstanding. Thus, the reports of his possible entry into the presidential race was sourced by spoon-fed journos as coming from intimates of the former New York mayor. The New York Times, which broke the story, described these unidentified sources were “advisers and associates” of the billionaire. The Wall Street Journal, also electing to shield the sources in anonymity, said they had been advisors to Bloomberg during his 12 years as mayor. One wonders, however, if the initial source to the Times was none other than the great man himself. In my 37 years as a journo, this was the way these matters often transpired across- the- board, from presidential contests down to school board contests.
Bloomberg’s assumption that he would be a contender is a brand of optimism embraced by people like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christe. Bloomberg, as mayor, had a mixed record. He certainly made the city more livable. Some of this was at the expense of minority men subject to stop and frisk programs. Many of good things that he accomplished will be forever be overshadowed by stop & frisk and by his grandmotherly attempt to save his citizens from obesity by banning jumbo containers of soda pop. Bloomberg seems to have an obsession about public health matters. His star-crush on British Actress Honeysuckle Weeks, who was a standout in the televised detective series Foyle’s War, was, according to a British publication, crushed out when he learned the actress smoked cigarettes. As mayor, he considered the enactment of a smoking ban in restaurants one of the biggest accomplishments of his life.
This record of micromanaging the personal affairs of New Yorkers, coupled with an unsuccessful $25-million gambit to save us all from evil firearms, would seem to render him unelectable. Americans detest micromanagers, which puts Bloomberg in the same category as the unelectable Bernie Sanders.
The problem for billionaires like Bloomberg is that they hire political experts who advise them that they are the greatest statesmen since Winston Churchill. The experts, of course, want to milk the billionaires for all the consulting fees they can before it becomes evident to the client that he won’t be occupying the White House. Trump has this blind spot. Someone has sold him on the silly notion that his current lead in the polls is confirmation that he is charming the pants off the electorate. Yet on Trump’s best day, he’s merely able to attract 41% of the crackpots who comprise today’s Republican Party. A 41% margin won’t get you elected dog catcher, let alone president.
Trump gets excited when he draws a few thousand supporters to a theater in New Hampshire. When Pope Francis visited the country, he was greeted by millions of supporters. The Pope’s message was almost the mirror opposite of Trump’s message. Do you think many of those millions will vote for Trump?
Money is a lot of things, including a frequent source of grand delusions