Is Bloomberg Positioning Himself for 2012?

The typically diplomatic mayor lashes out against both parties

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Last month, journalist John Heilemann envisioned a 2012 scenario in which New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would make a third-party bid for the presidency. It went something like this:

One scenario, most likely if the economy suffers a double-dip recession, is that the nation would be so desperate for capable economic management that Bloomberg would be able to overcome his vulnerabilities—his short-Jewish-unmarried-plutocratness—and find himself deposited in the Oval Office.

Since Heilemann's cover story, Bloomberg's public and private statements have been surprisingly undiplomatic. On Friday, Bloomberg's media-mogul friend Rupert Murdoch revealed that the New York mayor isn't too fond of President Obama. In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, Murdoch recalled what Bloomberg said to him after playing a round of golf with the president at the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown .

Bloomberg, according to Murdoch, "came back and said 'I never met in my life such an arrogant man'."

On Saturday, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg lashed out against the newly-elected Republicans in Congress:

"If you look at the U.S., you look at who we're electing to Congress, to the Senate, they can't read," he said. "I'll bet you a bunch of these people don't have passports."

To Esquire's Tim Heffernan, those two remarks revealed an outsider trying to distinguish himself from the left and right:

This gets right down into the Machiavellian swamps here, but as third-party prospects go, setting yourself up as an alternate to the left and the right isn't just a necessary first step, it's currently strategic wisdom. There are a ton of people in the country right now who find both parties contemptible, and who think the president is hopelessly out of touch, and who think the New Right is off its meds. And here goes Bloomberg (allegedly) calling Obama a paragon of arrogance and (reportedly) slamming the Tea Party crowd as a bunch of louts in need of remedial English and geography lessons. Sounds crazy — so crazy it makes a certain kind of sense, if you're thinking like, I dunno, a legendary campaign strategist. Words I may soon have to swallow ... but if not, remember, you heard 'em here first.

In this week's New Yorker, Ben McGrath also contemplated the Bloomberg run. While citing more evidence that Bloomberg's strongly considering a run, McGrath doesn't seem to think it's a particularly wise idea:

Speaking at Harvard, the day before the election, Bloomberg said, “I think, actually, a third-party candidate could run the government easier than a partisan political President,” and then he went on, as he always does, to deny that he intends to pursue the position. He is, as he is fond of saying, Jewish, unmarried, pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-immigrant, and pro-gay-marriage. Add to that a strong allegiance to Wall Street, a weekend house in Bermuda, and his vehemence, last summer, in defense of the mosque near Ground Zero, and it’s hard to see how he plays to the populist moment. A recent Marist poll indicates that only twenty-six per cent of New Yorkers favor the prospect of his running.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.