A Billionaire’s Twilight or Mayor Mike’s Dilemma
December 20, 2010
So now Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to become a REAL media mogul.
Forget Bloomberg News, which is concerned only about business. Having discovered that serving as mayor of New York City has become slightly boring after nine years, and seeing, yet again, that no groundswell has developed to anoint him President, Mayor Mike has decided to begin publishing editorials on national affairs.
Or, as one of his half-dozen spokesmen put it in fine upscale bombast, Bloomberg’s editorials would “channel his personal philosophy and world view.”
Nonetheless, the question lingers: Does Bloomberg regard himself as a Rupert Murdoch of the political center or a presidential candidate in waiting?
Or is he just afraid of becoming irrelevant?
Ever-modest, Bloomberg said that he would be content to be regarded simply as the greatest mayor in city history.
Yet, aside from paying off Al Sharpton to ignore repeated instances of police misconduct against people of color, who can cite one serious Bloomberg accomplishments at City Hall?
Let’s see: His establishment of bike lanes? His no-smoking ordinance?
His team of computer experts to streamline the city’s payroll system who are now at the center, as the Times put it, of “an alleged $80 million information technology fraud scheme”?
Perhaps his appointment of Joel Klein as Schools Chancellor, whose supposed improvements in children’s exam scores has, with state-wide testing, been exposed as an illusion, and whose establishment of charter schools as a panacea was ripped apart by Diane Ravitch, someone who actually possesses educational credentials?
In fact, Bloomberg hesitates to remind New Yorkers of his singular achievement — which is using his fortune to buy off political opponents: specifically, overturning the city’s two-term limit law by paying off City Council members so that the mayor could run for a third term.
Then, after cynically engineering his own City Hall encore, Bloomberg denounced the three-term change as bad government! That was a gem of chutzpah that even Mayor Ed Koch might respect.
So seamlessly did Bloomberg pull off his switcheroo that some nitwit at the Times subsequently wrote that the mayor “prides himself on his willingness to stand up for his principles, whatever the political cost.”
Let’s begin with the newly released Nixon tapes in which Nixon told Henry Kissinger that Jews “are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious” people.
Slam dunk on this one. Denounce the disgraced ex-Pres., and Mayor Mike can kick off his editorial statesmanship on the high road.
The same tapes reveal that Kissinger, who lost family members in the Holocaust, told Nixon that helping Soviet Jews emigrate to escape oppression was “not an objective of American foreign policy.” Said Henry: “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.”
Of course, what Kissinger said is despicable — perhaps more so than Nixon’s prejudices. But writing an editorial denouncing Kissinger could be tricky. For one thing, Kissinger has been defended by the Anti-Defamation League, which called his remarks the result of “an environment of intimidation.”
The ADL added that Kissinger’s words “should not change history’s verdict on [his] important contributions and ultimate legacy.” [Some legacy: world statesman as courtesan.]
The ADL is the same outfit that advised Muslims seeking to build a mosque near Ground Zero to take a hike up to 125th Street.
Their position contrasted with Bloomberg’s support of the mosque, which, rightly or wrongly, was a true act of principle.
The question, again, is whether Bloomberg wants to be a centrist Rupert Murdoch or a Presidential candidate in waiting.
If the latter, he may ask himself whether it is worthwhile to stir up all these sensitivities in his editorials and get people angry at him.
Is it really necessary, he might ask himself, to antagonize Kissinger, a respected elder-statesman, or the ADL, a once-proud organization that is rotting to its core but whose support Bloomberg may need in the future?
Despite his high-sounding proclamation about channeling his personal philosophy and world view, on sensitive subjects it might better for Mayor Mike to just keep his mouth shut.
Copyright © 2010 Leonard Levitt