Friday, June 22, 2007

He's Special

When you run for president of the United States, your private life becomes fodder for both the press and your opponents. A few months ago, the NY Times ran a front-page story counting the number of nights Bill and Hillary Clinton spent together over the last year. Also a few months ago, we learned that Two America's John Edwards pays $400 for a haircut and makes money working for hedge funds. We learned just this week that Rudy Giuliani quit the Iraq Study Group because he wanted to make tons of money giving speeches to Christian groups and other Republican constituencies instead of volunteering to serve his country at a time of great need.

These kinds of stories tend to come out when a person is running for president in the era of three 24 hour cable news networks, three broadcast networks, thousands of newspapers, tens of thousands of Internet political news and opinion sources/blogs, and You Tube.

So what makes Mayor Moneybags Bloomberg - who refuses to tell people nearly ANYTHING about his personal life, where he actually lives (hint: it's not Gracie Mansion), where he goes on weekends (hint: it's a secret!), how much money he is REALLY worth (when you see the press throwing figures around about his net worth, they're all just estimates), etc. - think HE can get through the election process without having details about his personal and business lives being revealed?

I dunno, but it's clear he does:

"For more than six years, we've had a consistent policy of not discussing the mayor's private schedule or personal life," was all Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser would say when asked if the mayor had spent money on polls or other activities to explore a bid.

Right now, Bloomberg is receiving adulatory kid glove treatment from the media who apparently aren't satisfied with the current quality of the presidential candidates (8 Dems/10 Repubs + Fred Thompson) and want to see Moneybags enter the race if for no other reason that it creates even more uncertainty in an already uncertain race that the press are already bored by.

But what happens when Bloomberg actually enters the race early next year and the adulatory kid glove treatment turns to the same kind of scrutiny that other presidential candidates receive?

How will Bloomberg react when he's asked about his personal life, his ex-wife, his current girlfriend and/or boyfriend, where he lives, where he goes on weekends (hint: it's a secret island he owns somewhere far, far away from everybody), what his net worth is and so on?

Bloomberg's track record says that he will not react too well.

When challenged at his press conference on Tuesday whether he had ordered city employees to work on his presidential bid while also working on the city payroll, Bloomberg grew snarky and petulant.

He has a reputation for wanting things to go his way and when they don't, he gets very, very upset and makes sure things go his way anyway.

Now that may work in the business world, where ruthlessness, petulance and selfishness are virtues, but in a presidential campaign Bloomberg's penchant for getting upset when things don't go his way is going to be a problem.

As Tom Harkin noted:

Mr. Bloomberg, whom I don't know real well -- I've met him a few times -- kind of reminds me of the little rich kid that if he can't have it his way he's going to take his little balls and go home."

I suspect when Bloomberg is challenged about his personal and business lives by the press and his opponents in the presidential race, that is exactly what is going to happen.

So unless the press decides to give Bloomberg a pass on these questions and unless Bloomberg's Democratic and Republican opponents decide to ignore the weirdness and unfairness of his refusal to give ANY details about his personal and business lives while they have to divulge just about everything about themselves, Moneybags is going to have a "snark moment" on camera where he tells a reporter or two to go fuck themselves when they ask how many people he employs on his secret tropical island in the South Pacific or why he won't reveal where he lives during the week when he's not jetting off to his secret tropical paradise.

If that moment happens, it will define Bloomberg for the American people in a way that Bloomberg's billion dollar ad campaign may just not be able to undo.

It seems to me a Bloomberg candidacy would be a disaster for any party fool enough to take him in. You may never have noticed it, but there's enough anti-NYC feeling in much of the country to guarantee that anyone strongly associated with NYC going down in flames. Much of that feeling stems from the city's near stranglehold on publishing and television -- neither industry seriously recognises the existance of any part of the US between Manhattan and LA. Giuliani is dead meat in the Republican hinterlands for that reason if no other, and Clinton, in spite of her Arkansas roots, is well known for her NYC manners (politely, stridency) and is unlikely to be more than a very reluctant choice among central US Dem voters. We'll see what happens in Iowa.

On a happier note, Richardson is looking like a shoe-in for the Dem's VP spot. He balances the geographic ticket for either Gore or Edwards, would complement Obama stylisticly, and certainly seems to be as authentic as Fred Thompson acts. Note I left out Clinton -- she has her chosen VP already, and has no use for any potential rival. It could get interesting.
kicksiron, I respectfully have to disagree w/ you about Richardson. His stock is falling fast, especially after his disastrous appearance on MTP a few weeks ago where he seems ill-prepared to deal w/ Russert and the latest campaign crisis where he criticized his fellow Dems for supporting an Iraq bill that he originally went on record supporting as well. His campaign then tried to scrub the website of all evidence that he supported the Iraq bill, but failed to get it all. It was pretty horrendous, especially because the other campaigns had cached his website anyway and had all the info that the Richardson campaign clumsily failed to delete.

As for the anti-NYC bias, I agree that many people hate NYers. It changed a bit after 9/11, but not that much. I would say that the anti-Hillary bias is more about the Clintons than her alleged NY ties. Frankly, she's a resident of the State of Ego!
I've been getting very little relevant info on Richardson. We get occasional dust from New Mexico, but very little dirt. (My cable has been out for a couple of months, and I'm beginning to like it that way.) He has, apparently, managed to be a modestly progressive governor in a state where a significant and powerful segment of the population is ideologically Libertarian. Not a bad resume.

I was truly considering only his recent proposal to get ALL our troops out of Iraq and headed home as soon as they can be transported. Regardless of how one might view that as a military strategy, it keeps the anti-war segment from giving up hope on the party, and, were Richardson to be named Veep, gives them the appearance of a real voice at the table when it comes time to decide on a final plan (which is really all they could hope for). And it does that without guaranteeing anything. Not a bad political strategy, huh.

I don't know why I have a problem with Clinton. It's certainly not that I have a problem with intelligent and powerful women generally -- I absolutely worship Pelosi, and would run off with Camille Paglia in a heartbeat. (Yeah, I know, but the fact that I'm old, broke, balding and out of shape doesn't help, either.)

You're right about Hillary being a resident of the State of Ego, and, I suspect she's a native. There's just something else about her -- the fact that she has the same effect on me as though her underwear came not from Victoria's Secret, but from Joe's Sheet Metal. (Try getting THAT image out of your mind.)
I think many Americans have similar reactions to HRC, kicksiron. That's why I hope Dems don't pick her. Unfortunately, I get the feeling they're going to. I hope I'm wrong.
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