Since the Times of London reported last week that Michael Bloomberg, the smol ex-mayor of New York City, was planning a run for president, the question that has thrilled politics watchers is: What? Him? Why? Today, the New York Times has the first extended interview with Bloomberg on the matter since the news broke, and we are no closer to answering those questions.
The interview is a shit-show, an absolute train-wreck of Democratic politics. And yes, in case you were wondering, Bloomberg does clarify he would run as a Democrat, since he’s ideologically amorphous enough to need to answer that and held a fundraiser this summer for Republican congressman Pete King in his own damn home, despite pledging $80 million of his own money to help Democrats take back the House. I don’t get it either.
In the interview, Bloomberg defends stop-and-frisk, the policing practice since largely abandoned by current New York mayor Bill de Blasio, by saying “people, the voters, want low crime.” (Crime in New York has fallen since stop-and-frisk was mostly halted.) He also criticizes “liberal Democrats’ attitude toward big business,” at a moment in which most Democrats now have a positive view of socialism.
Perhaps the most bizarrely unforced error in the piece is Bloomberg’s semi-defense of Charlie Rose, whom he raised “unprompted,” and his wider questioning of Me Too accusations:
“The stuff I read about is disgraceful — I don’t know how true all of it is,” Mr. Bloomberg said of the #MeToo movement. Raising Mr. Rose unprompted, he said: “We never had a complaint, whatsoever, and when I read some of the stuff, I was surprised, I will say. But I never saw anything and we have no record, we’ve checked very carefully.”
“You know, is it true?” Mr. Bloomberg said of the allegations. “You look at people that say it is, but we have a system where you have — presumption of innocence is the basis of it.”
Hmm! Heading into a midterm election where women plan to vote in higher numbers than previous midterms, with a wider gap in women’s support of Democrats and Republicans, it’s a rather curious line for Bloomberg to pursue. It is also completely morally disgusting, but you know, politics and all that.
It’s perhaps not that surprising to see Bloomberg get bizarrely defensive about Me Too questions, given his own history of sexism and horrific comments on rape, via Gawker (emphasis in the original):
Another of the women behind one of the late ‘90s lawsuits was Mary Ann Olszewski, who claimed that “male employees from Mr. Bloomberg on down” routinely demoralized women at Bloomberg LP. Olszewski said that the harassment culminated in her being raped in a Chicago hotel room by her direct superior, a top Bloomberg executive. In a 1998 depositionrelating to the Olszewski case, Bloomberg testified that he wouldn’t call the rape allegation genuine unless there was “an unimpeachable third-party witness.” “Describe for me your conception of how there could be a third-party witness to confirm or deny the truthfulness of her allegations,” the attorney asked Bloomberg. Bloomberg responded, “There are times when three people are together.”
Yeah!!! This guy for president! Sign me up right now baby!!!
A Bloomberg candidacy makes no sense; reading that interview, I feel like someone just suggested to me that I should eat a salad of peaches, pennies, and shaving cream for lunch. No one is clamoring for a slightly better billionaire to take on the horrible billionaire we currently have. He is a boring, unlikeable white dude with a bad record. More than anything, his odd collection of policy preferences is completely incongruous and likely not shared by many Americans, let alone enough to win the presidency. It’s like running one of those bizarrely specific bot-generated t-shirts that say, like, “I’m Not A Bitch... I’m A Bitch From Plympton, MA, Who Loves RACQUETBALL!” for president—you see it and think, who is this for? What person wants this? What American is clamoring for an anti-gun, pro-Wall Street, anti-Me Too, pro-stop and frisk president, who is also personally a billionaire himself? What voter is at the end of that bizarre ideological flow-chart?
I have to conclude that it’s unlikely Bloomberg will actually run. As the Times reports, there is “considerable skepticism among Democratic leaders, and even some of Mr. Bloomberg’s close allies, that he will actually pursue the presidency, because he has entertained the idea fruitlessly several times before.” Let us not forget his flirtation with running in 2016, and specifically the bizarrely optimistic electoral college maps that Bloomberg’s team drew up as he pondered a run. These had him winning Arizona??? if he ran against Clinton and Trump, or tying with Trump in Texas????? if he ran against Sanders and Trump.
A map showing Bloomberg winning literally any state would have been a big old fib; clearly his consultants were too chicken to tell him that he’s an unlikeable billionaire weirdo whose policy preferences do not resemble any natural constituency of voters in America. And clearly, nothing has changed since 2016. No one in Bloomberg’s circle is being a true friend and telling him to give his money to Democrats and shut up. A Bloomberg candidacy is appealing to no one but maybe six or seven other extremely rich people, and would make as much sense as running an owl in a tie for the White House. So, given how completely fucking weird things are these days, maybe I should be putting $40 on a two-term Bloomberg presidency.