The shell game's easier when you can hear the pea rattling around. But a
lot less fun.
Mike Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, is not running for President. He'll tell you that himself,
as he did just a couple of days ago:
"No matter how many times you ask the question, I'm not a
candidate," Mr. Bloomberg said this morning during a press conference
at a school in Harlem, when asked if he is paying for national polling
right now. "That's the answer. I can't go into nit picking. This is
So, why, you may be wondering, do people keep asking? It's because
he's unusually serious
about not running for President.
Now, personally, I'm not running for President, and it hasn't cost me
a dime. But that's because I'm not as serious about not running for
President as Bloomberg has been. He's run ads before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries, to say a few things about illegal guns, and, no doubt, to reassure the voters
that he is not running for President. He's spending millions
of dollars on polls, no doubt to determine how lousy an idea it
would be for him to run. And he just formally went through the rigamarole
of placing all of his assets in a blind trust,
so people can be sure that his decision not to run for President was
untainted by any conflict of interest.
But to date, at least, the centerpiece of his campaign to convince
people that he isn't running for President has been his appearance at
the Unity08 confab --- a rather strange event which was organized by
the eminences grises of the 1976 Presidential campaign (Jimmy
Carter's guru, Gerald Rafshoon, and Gerry Ford's, Douglas Bailey).
It featured a number of ex-Senators and the like, from both parties
(and even more impressively, actor Sam Waterston, who plays a hard-ass
prosecutor on TV) decrying the tone of partisan bickering which, they
say, has paralysed Washington. But the only truly newsworthy thing
that seems to have happened was an appearance by Bloomberg at which
he, once again, denied
that he's running for President:
"I'm not a candidate, number one. I am a former businessman and a mayor," he said in a panel discussion and news conference at the University of Oklahoma.
And he even got the host of the meeting, ex-Senator David Boren, to
back him up:
"I don't think he has the ambition to run for president and I think he's like the rest of us, hoping against hope that the two parties rise to the occasion," Boren said.
And yet, some people just don't get the message. The latest on
this front is that Rafshoon and Bailey have decamped from Unity08
to form a "Draft Bloomberg" committee, with a slick
interactive website letting you add your name to a petition.
Click on the "Why Mike Bloomberg" link, and the page opens up to
reveal links to a number of puff pieces which, no doubt, prefigure
the sort of campaign they'd want to run in case they got the
opportunity: the featured story by Newsweek is a
pure personality piece (in the spirit of the American Revolution,
he liked the book Johnny Tremain!), which doesn't even talk about the problems
of actually governing New York City, let alone the country as a whole. Which may be the beginnings of a new Rafshoon/Bailey strategy
for transcending partisan bickering in politics, by endorsing politicians
who strive to take no position at all on any substantive political issue.
Too bad they'll never get the chance, since Bloomberg is so serious
about not running.
(As for Unity08, by some sad coincidence, their funds have suddenly
dried up, to the point that they can no longer afford an interactive
web site at all.
The sole page on their web site, as of
right now, blames the FEC, in the spirit of "transparency". They had
this ballot access thing going that a number of their staffers
must have really believed in. I wonder if any of them feel they got used?)
More: Well, one of them seems happy enough. In comments on another
thread on the subject, erstwhile Unity08 Marketing Director Bob Ross popped in
to deny these annoyingly persistent rumors that Unity08 has simply transformed
itself into the "Draft Bloomberg" movement:
... the truth of the matter, if you are interested, is that the closure of Unity08 was not a process of tranfering, redirecting, re-allocating, re-structuring, re-constituting, or re-organizing into a pro-Bloomberg effort. No member information or money was moved from one organization to the other. They are completely separate organizations.
Which prompted the obvious question on what he's going to be doing next. His response,
in a subsequent comment
I’ve decided to retire to my home state to spend some time with family while also helping out some friends get a few different projects off the ground. As I am sure you might find if you read several political blogs, one of those projects happens to be the draftbloomberg.com movement.
Which is, once again, a completely separate organization
which just happens
by some totally strange coincidence, to have the same leadership and staff.
The pea is under the shell on the left. Honest!