Michael Bloomberg Says High Approval Ratings Mean He's a Failure

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Michael Bloomberg sat down for wide-ranging interview with The Atlantic's James Bennet for this month's cover story and was not shy with his thoughts on why journalism stinks, Romney has a "genuine" problem, Twitter is ruining government, and Obama doesn't deserve any credit for killing Bin Laden.

aThe Democrat turned Republican turned Independent has a reputation for doing and saying his own thing, and not really caring about what anyone else wants him to do. His public smoking ban (eventually) won him a lot of praise; his attempts to do the same with soda have been less happily accepted. But as he nears the end of his reign at king of New York City, Bloomberg stands by his belief that making people happy means you're not doing your job. He's says that if he leaves office with high approval numbers "then I wasted my last years in office." To him, high approval rating "means you’re skiing the baby slope, for goodness’ sakes. Go to a steeper slope."

Naturally, he also has a lot of thoughts on the Presidential election, saying the key to getting elected is being seen as "genuine," which is a problem for Mitt Romney. Mayor Mike says that was the difference between George W. Bush and his opponents, Al Gore and John Kerry, and it's also holding Mitt back because "he walked away from everything he did" in Massachusetts. "I think that’s a losing strategy, to not have values," he adds.

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He also has criticism for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, claiming neither of them has as a coherent "worldview" and that the Secretary of State isn't really running our foreign policy the way Henry Kissinger once did. As for the President's other faults, Bloomberg says that he alienated the kingpins on Wall Street with his populism, he doesn't talk to the press enough, and he didn't do anything special by killing Osama bin Laden. He thinks Obama doesn't deserve special credit in the same that Harry Truman doesn't deserve credit for using nuclear weapons on Japan because "Any president would’ve pushed that button, any president would’ve dropped the bomb."


There's much more quotable material that you should check out—"the quality of journalism has gone down dramatically" and yes, "blogs" are part of the problem—but his final thought, much like his first one, is that too much public opinion is a bad thing. Mayor Mike says that government needs "innovation" just like science and business does, and the insta-poll nature of Twitter and Facebook makes leaders "unwilling to take risks in government."

In other words, stop caring what other people thing about you and be more like Michael Bloomberg.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.