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The Candidate of the Permanent Will

Posted on Feb 15, 2008

By David Sirota

To the consternation of news bureaus, political consulting firms and has-been politicians, The Wall Street Journal’s poll last month shows that America is hostile to an independent presidential candidacy by Michael Bloomberg. The New York mayor is viewed more unfavorably than favorably by voters. In head-to-head general election polls, he gets crushed everywhere, losing even the city he now governs.

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Yet, despite the unprecedented enthusiasm for the major parties’ 2008 presidential contenders, the media and political gatekeepers keep floating the possibility of Bloomberg’s candidacy, showing just how much change frightens the status quo.

To review: Bloomberg is the billionaire who spent roughly the same amount to buy New York’s mayoralty as Bill Clinton spent on his entire national presidential campaign in 1992. By most measures, he is the antithesis of what Americans want in a president.

He is a CEO at a time when his own Bloomberg News polls show Americans overwhelmingly distrust CEOs. He heads a media conglomerate and is considering an independent presidential candidacy in an era when Gallup surveys show voters strongly distrust media companies and are satisfied with the current field of major-party candidates.

Bloomberg is an icon of Manhattan’s effete aristocracy in an election pivoting on working-class voters in Ohio and the Mountain West. He is the caretaker mayor of a city that is an embarrassing spectacle of economic inequality—at a moment when Americans are worried about inequality.

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Even on foreign policy he is out of step. With the public outraged at the Iraq war, Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald has documented Bloomberg’s pro-war extremism echoing right-wing attempts to dishonestly connect 9/11 to the conflict; telling America to support President Bush because of the war; and offering a post-“Mission Accomplished” parade for the president.

Bloomberg is positioning himself as an issues-based alternative to both parties’ aspiring nominees. Yet his confidante admits the Bloomberg candidacy would be a Seinfeldian display of arrogance: a campaign about nothing, other than one egomaniac’s self-importance. “It isn’t about which candidate Mike could live with,” the Bloomberg friend recently told New York magazine. “All Mike cares about is whether he can win or not.”

Regardless, the portrayal of Bloomberg as Principled Savior continues. Late last year, Newsweek’s editor penned a brown-nosing front-cover love letter to the mayor, lauding his “American odyssey.” In January, Doug Schoen, a Bloomberg pollster, popped up in articles pushing the Bloomberg candidacy. Just weeks ago, a group of retired lawmakers trumpeted a Bloomberg run.

Some of the motives are obvious. Washed-up politicians are looking for White House jobs. News executives and political consultants see dollar signs in potential Bloomberg for President ads. Reporters would like to ingratiate themselves to the head of a burgeoning media empire. Power-worshipping pundits see in Bloomberg a fellow upper-cruster they can relate to at social gatherings.

But this is about more than just Cabinet slots, cash, careerism and cocktail parties.

In years past, campaign contributors controlled figurehead candidates like Bush, and corporate front groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council pummeled threatening challengers like Howard Dean. These were reliable instruments of corruption that enforced what Alexander Hamilton once called the Establishment’s “permanent will.” Now, though, voters are forcing both parties to ignore that “permanent will” and embrace real, unbridled change.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the ascendance of Republican John McCain, a sometime opponent of corporate America, is downright “nerve-wracking” for insiders already “jarred by intensifying populist attacks from the Democratic field.” Barack Obama (D) is now hammering away at lobbyist-written trade deals that help companies outsource jobs, and even Hillary Clinton (D)—the candidate who has taken the most cash from the health care industry—is criticizing health insurance profiteering.

Thus, the elite are desperate for a stooge, and in Bloomberg, they’ve found one. Politically repugnant to most Americans and representing no mass constituency whatsoever, his wallet nonetheless imparts “legitimacy,” and his corporate career ensures a candidacy working to suppress the change impulse under meaningless bromides about “bipartisanship.”

Bloomberg’s machinations will be the subject of ongoing media speculation. However, the real story is not about one prima donna, but about the entrenched interests pushing him to run in the first place. Whether this billionaire becomes a candidate or not, you can bet those interests will keep working hard to trip up change on its way to the White House.

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose newest book, “The Uprising,” will be released in June. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network, both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at www.credoaction.com/sirota.

© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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By Claire M, February 20, 2008 at 11:58 pm Link to this comment
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Bloomberg is a dictator and a trifling micro-manager.  He has told New Yorkers how to cook their food, he performs illegal acts in other states and expects special treatment for himself and his goons (and so far, the BATFE has slapped him on the wrist, rather than indicting him as they do innocent citizens who cross their blood-thirsty path).

He has no business being president.  I may hold my nose in the voting booth in the next election, but Bloomberg is a non-starter.

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By Blackspeare, February 20, 2008 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

Just think, if Bloomberg enters the race we’ll have a Black with a little Islamic background, a woman, and a Jew. This would be a devastating cognitive dissonance for the bigots and racists among us——they might self-destruct!!!

Also, what are the odds of having a POTUS with the middle name “Hussein”?! You just can’t make this stuff up!

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By cyrena, February 18, 2008 at 9:39 pm Link to this comment

Great question John Pauly…

The answer is sort of long, but I can say it semi-quickly, because it’s all a result of corporate corruption, which when, allied with the corporate administration, breaks down to NO ACCOUNTABILITY.

Yes, there are still Govn’t inspectors, but these type jobs have overwhelmingly been ‘outsourced’ to private and independent, (often anonymous) ‘contractors’ and ‘sub-contractors’ who do what used to be done by the State. (ie, the Federal Government). And, there’s no one overall ‘watchdog’ for these independent entities.

So, whether it’s inspecting meat, (on behalf of the agricultural agencies) or inspecting incoming vessels, (land, sea or air) or the botox that people now shoot up to ‘look better’, there simply is not the oversight that is always done by the feds directly.

Then too, the corruption, (not to mention the fact that most of these agencies are understaffed and or staffed with unqualified and untrained people) frequently result in them just ‘looking the other way’ or allowing ‘whatever’ it is, to pass along without inspection.

That appears to be the claim they’re trying to make on this beef. The manufacturers and/or the distributors, (sometimes the same entity, but not always) claim that there is nothing actually wrong with the beef, and that the only reason it’s being recalled is because it wasn’t properly/officially inspected.

Happens a lot these days. Seems like all of these resources are being used to detect and route out ‘terrorists’.

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By Wordsmith, February 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And the video ‘Yes, We Can’ is the epitome.

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By samosamo, February 18, 2008 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

Where are the issues? I don’t and will not have a tv in my house but why aren’t any of these clowns putting out an editorial or essay about what their plans are if and when they are elected or the last wannabe is still standing? It would appear that a core base set of plans for what one would do if elected would be a most valuable item to be put out in the air waves, media. For someone like me with only internet connections or newspapers or magazines for for information it would be great to read in print what any of these wannabes stand for and plan on doing. But I see nothing which makes it appear they all stand for nothing. ooops, forgot, they definitely stand for negativistic campaigning and can site the most worse parts of their opponents characters. What a country, what wonderful group of hypocritcal trash a large segement of our people are.

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By JOHN PAULY, February 18, 2008 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
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I THOUGHT GOVT. INSPECTORS WERE ON SITE AT THESE MEAT PACKING PLANTS TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC. WHERE WERE THEY IN THIS CASE? WHAT ABOUT OTHER SITES? ARE THERE ANY INSPECTORS ANY MORE?

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By Conservative Yankee, February 18, 2008 at 7:06 am Link to this comment
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We get together in a big room (there were about 40 people from my town) and discuss potential candidates.  In larger towns, “ward bosses” get to tell D’s how “the party” feels, but my town is small, and we have no “Democratic committee”

People struggled with Obama or Clinton.  The generat consensus was “we want someone else” There were disenfranchised Kucinich voters who saw Hill-the-business-shill as a “Bush enabler” but there were also people who wwere supporting her who pointed to Obama’s record of partial support and series of “NV’s”

In the end Whiting (which is fairly represenative of the state as a whole gave Obama the nod with a 7/17 victory. that means out of almost 40 people who came out on a rainy/icy day just over half bothered to register an opinion. Those like myself, who “held their nose and voted” were not happy or pleased… and the air was ripe with cynicism. The coffee and doughnuts went untouched, and people left immediately following the final vote.

I did not get any feeling that these people were committed to vote Democratic” come the fall. 

Maine has been a blue State for the last 5 elections (barely) If it goes red on election night, that would be a early indicator of where the Country is headed. What it would mean is that the Democrats who still have a job… stayed home.

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By cyrena, February 17, 2008 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

Mike MC,

I think it anyone without means wanting to run for office is going to run into more than trouble. Or, maybe less, dependent on how one thinks of ‘trouble’.

The bottom line is that they’ll run right smack dab into a brick wall. In short, it’s flippin’ impossible, which is why Obama has come as close as anyone I can think of in my own life time, in managing it.

That’s because you’re right that he’s the ‘least connected’ of any candidate that I can think of, at least in the past 30 years.

No ‘aristocracy’ in his blood line, and he didn’t ‘come from’ any money either.

Relatively speaking, the US is a young country. That’s why I don’t see how or why so many people don’t ‘get’ that we’re rejecting a dynasty and a monarchy. Isn’t that what the colonizers had in mind nearly 300 hundred years ago?

REJECTING the monarchy? We’re sick of the dynasties. They haven’t even been DECENT dynasties.

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By Jimmy Charite, February 16, 2008 at 7:58 am Link to this comment
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Finally, I thought I was the only one who thought he was saying nothing. Pure generalizations!

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By KISS, February 16, 2008 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

I give David credit for seeing the dark side of dimmos as well as repugs.
Here he outlines the feverish worry of the corporate giants that control our country. Bloomberg is the perfect stooge to do their bidding. If you think Bloomberg is sincere over global warming I have some beach front property to sell you just outside Phoenix.
Yup, I believe we need more parties, what we have now is Diddle Dee and Diddle Dum. Also the primary system should be a May advance and all candidates should appear on the ballot…top 5 should be on the Nov. ballot and the one who gets the majority wins the prise.

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By yossarian100, February 16, 2008 at 5:56 am Link to this comment

I completely disagree. I think voters are picking Senator Obama because he’s speaking almost entirely in slogans. If he spelled out detailed solutions, you’d see just how quickly the voters would abandon him.

In other words, I believe the people get exactly the government they deserve. We like slogan politicians, even though we say we don’t. It’s less work for us and we elect them in droves. Am I being too cynical? I don’t think so. I honestly don’t see how one can be too cynical when it comes to American politics.

For Mayor Bloomberg to run, he’d have to come up with better slogans and figure out a way to position himself somewhere other than the dead center of the Republican Party, which is no man’s land in this election.

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By Maani, February 15, 2008 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

If the presidency were bifurcated into two positions - one domestic/economic, one foreign policy/international relations - Bloomberg would be a fabulous candidate for the former post.  His competence in this area - economics, business, etc. - is all but unquestioned.  He would probably be able to handle tax issues, the subprime crisis, housing meltdown and other economic issues better than anyone we have heard from yet, and would also have the best, most competent advisers in that regard. He WOULD be the “MBA president” that we HOPED Bush might be.

However, he has little if any foreign policy experience, and what I HAVE heard him say on various foreign policy issues, I do not agree with.

Yes, he is very strong on climate change, and would certainly make that an important centerpiece of his administration.  But I think we will see that either Obama or Hillary will do likewise, even if they have not made it a central part of their campaigns.

Peace.

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By Conservative Yankee, February 15, 2008 at 7:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

David Sirota says the populous is “satisfied” with the current candidates and by extension the two party system.

It is my personal opinion that the slate of candidates presented by the two parties was, and remains the worst buffet of my lifetime.

There are few of these fools who I wauld trust to wash my truck, much less run the country, and after listening to others speak at the Maine Caucuses, I know I am not alone in this belief.

Maine picked Obama, BUT they really want someone else.  Preferably someone LESS connected….. Where David Sirota is correct is in his assertion that the “someone else” is NOT Bloomberg !!

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