Rumors are rife that Gotham’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is preparing to spend a billion dollars of his own money to move from his town house on the Upper East Side to the White House.
Today, the mayor is scheduled to attend a Unity08 Forum in Oklahoma convened to explore alternatives to the two major parties.
In a recent radio interview Bloomberg sounded like a man eager to be this year’s dark horse. “They’re unwilling to face the big issues, and take the risks and give it straight to the public,” Bloomberg said of the Democratic and Republican contenders for the presidency. “And that’s not good for democracy, and it’s certainly not good for America.”
Face the big issues? Take the risks? Give it straight? Mayor Bloomberg must sense that Election 2008 needs a little comic relief.
No third-party movement has captured the White House since Abraham Lincoln led the Republicans to victory in 1860 opposing slavery in the territories.
Now, here comes Mayor Bloomberg, proposing to get there (if his New York City record offers any insight into his plans) by banning trans-fats from the nation’s ice-cream sundaes.
The mayor’s other signature initiative involved the creation of a centralized school bureaucracy under former Clinton-administration apparatchik Joel Klein.
It’ll certainly be fun for the Madison Avenue boys who write the voiceovers for the ad campaign. “As New York’s mayor, Mike Bloomberg cut the number of soufflés consumed in French restaurants by 30%. There were groans in the kitchens of Bouley and Le Cirque. But Mike Bloomberg stayed the course . . .”
The mayor’s prospective candidacy exposes the sorry state of our plutocracy. Bloomberg, a wildly successful capitalist, is at the same time a fairly orthodox tax-and-spend liberal. Under his administration, New York City’s budget has mushroomed to $54 billion. Instead of cutting taxes, the mayor wants to keep the city’s sales tax — slated to go down to 7.375 percent in July — at 8.375 percent. If he succeeds, more than a billion dollars that might have remained in New Yorkers’ pockets each year will go to the government.