Hyper-popular mayor Michael Bloomberg (?-NY), dismisses idle speculation about his potential presidential ambitions:
No way, no how.
Remarkably, this probably won’t quiet chatter about the mayor: Bloomberg’s popularity, fortune, and generic leftward leanings make him the type of candidate that could, were he so inclined, mount something approximating a successful third-party challenge to the sitting president. And that, no matter how unlikely, is the stuff pundit dreams are made of.
For myself, though, engaging momentarily in this unlikely hypothetical, I question the mayor’s chances. Bloomberg is the rare liberal who states his positions boldly, and without hesitation. You just love banning unhealthy products, don’t you?, teased NPR’s Peter Sagal. Ask the audience if they like having three years added to their life expectancy, replied the ecstatic Mayor. This sentiment, and the intellectual courage underlying it, are both sorely lacking in the Obama administration, but we can reasonably question whether it would play outside of New York City. Similarly, the bizarre self-triangulation that Bloomberg has perfected during his two and a half terms in office works for the City, but it doesn’t make sense in a country where Republicans are not just more prominent, but consistently command more attention than their prominence (and their non-existent platform) deserves.
Conventional wisdom holds that the successful statesman should advance. A popular state representative becomes a popular governor becomes a popular president. But competencies don’t always translate like that (just ask Sarah Palin). Bloomberg is a fantastic mayor, because he understands his city, and has spent a lifetime making it work for him. Could he do the same for the country? Probably, but not without a non-trivial learning curve. The mayoralty was made for Bloomberg, and him for it. When he’s finished his work here, we should let this Cincinnatus return to his palatial estate.