Hillary Clinton

Bloomberg's Billions Blast Bedrock Ballot Beliefs

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Crackerjack journalist Ralph Z. Hallow reveals that Mike Bloomberg might spend $1 billion for an independent presidential bid, and Garance Franke-Ruta (make sure you're 21 before reading her punditry) sees the bright side.

A Bloomberg entry would raise the specter of an unprecedented all New Yorker race, if Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani win their primaries, as well as the effective obliteration of campaign finance laws as we know them.

Like I wrote last month, our campaign finance laws are already imploding because the two parties' frontrunners are opting out of the public financing system. A Bloomberg run doesn't really change that. But the "billionaire buys White House" scenario is the fantasy behind a lot of CFR, and a Bloomberg campaign would destroy that fantasy. It would be Croeses II: a super-confident tycoon will dump his fortune into the campaign and… come in a poor third to the candidates he just outspent by two to one. The "keep money out of politics!" crowd will have to explain that and justify the laws preventing the free flow of political money, and they won't be able to.

Either that or the Democrats and Republicans say "never again!" and pass a law forbidding candidates to fund their own campaigns.

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  1. The “keep money out of politics!” crowd will have to explain that and justify the laws preventing the free flow of political money, and they won’t be able to.

    Ha! Caught you! I’m getting a feel for the Weigel dry wit. Nobody is that naive.

    The notion that the rich have the oval office on speed dial, and that enough regulation will change that, has no basis in reality. Therefore there’s really nothing that will stop people from believing it.

  2. I was thinking, wow, cool upside to Bloomberg campaign, then I got to the end of your post, Mr Weigel. You are a hateful man, aren’t you? Why must you be so cruel?

  3. Actually, I see the “billionaire buys the White House” scenario rarely. The problem most CFR, from the post-Watergate laws to McCain-Feingold, is aimed at addressing is the time and consideration candidates and officeholders give to donors.

  4. New Yorkers prefer Bloomberg to Giuliani for president.

    There is a perception that the poor have fared better under Bloomberg (at least he seems sad when cops unload on unarmed bachelors) than Giuliani, and many of the “rich” currently in New York aren’t the kind that earned their loot so much as daddy sends them a huge check every month. Also, Rudy is famous for his “courage” during 9/11, but I think a lot of America mistakes merely being present in NYC in the aftermath for courage. People who live in NYC and had to get on with their lives, me included, don’t really see walking around the rubble as something that should be rewarded with the presidency. Don’t get me wrong, Bloomberg is popular because he hasn’t really screwed up what Giuliani put in place. Giuliani was the take-charge authoritarian who should get most of the credit for making NYC governable and safe for $8,000/month apartments.

    What has Bloomberg done? If he’s such a great CEO, what’s with the MTA?

  5. Sorry, that sort of went everywhere.

  6. Bloomberg is a good politician. He knows how to work the media and maintain his reputation. Giuliani’s a tough guy and that’s his only shtick.

    Plus, the cops haven’t been gunning down unarmed innocents so frequently on Bloomberg’s watch. That sort of thing affects your popularity among the people who actually live there.

    I’d rather have Bloomberg than Giuliani myself. In fact, Bloomberg compares favorably to McCain, Obama, and Clinton. That’s not saying much, but what else is new?

  7. For what it’s worth, John Podhoretz over at The Corner deemed this “The Silly Story of the Day.”:

    “Look, there’s a reason Michael Bloomberg is the richest man in New York. It’s because he’s not the type to blow a billion dollars on a fantasy. When he spent $76 million to win the mayoralty and another comparable amount to get reelected, he did so with a very specific and workable game plan for the money. Here he would just be lighting a match to the cash.

    When Ross Perot ran in 1992, he had two very specific aims in mind: He wanted to talk about the budget deficit, and he wanted to screw George Bush the Elder, who he had convinced himself had done something to disrupt his daughter’s wedding. He had nothing of moment to say about the budget deficit except that it was bad, and he quit the race when he thought Clinton had it in the bag, only to reenter it when Clinton appeared to stumble a bit in September.

    Bloomberg has no such passion driving him. He has very little passion at all, which is why he has been a workmanlike mayor of New York City who has succeeded because he kept in place the policies of his predecessor.

    Why can’t Bloomberg win? First, because independents can’t win. Second, because he’s a Jew.Third, because he’s too short. Fourth, becasue he’s way, way, way too rich. Fifth, because, I mean, come on. Sixth, because, I mean, really.”

    Jonah Goldberg (and I) disagree with the “Jew” part, but otherwise, that sounds right.

  8. So, what did Bob Dole do to Perot that caused him to run again in 1996?

  9. A Bloomberg entry would raise the specter of an unprecedented all New Yorker race, if Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani win their primaries, as well as the effective obliteration of campaign finance laws as we know them.

    There’s your dark cloud and your silver lining, all in one sentence.

  10. I completely forgot that Perot ran in 96. I’m guessing he was bored. Wikipedia says he got 8% of the popular vote in 96, down from 19% in 92.

  11. The thing about a Bloomberg campaign is that even though there is currently an R after his name he is really a center left Democrat. Most of his votes would probably come from the Democrat’s nominee. So the question is does he want to be Perot to Hillary?

  12. Nobody wants to see the bar rise so high that it takes a billion dollars to win (or lose) an election. But what WOULD be interesting is to see what a campaign looks like (in the case of Bloomberg) when the candidate can say and do what he really thinks and believes in because he doesn’t have to raise a single dime from anyone at all.

  13. Bloomburg is the nanny stater from hell. The fact that he is Jewish and a New Yorker and pretty liberal would pretty much make him dead on arrival with evangelicals. I bet he would do well with suburban soccer mom busybodies who can’t quite stomach voting for Hillary. I think a Bloomburg independent campaign would be bad news for Democrats.

    As far as an all New Yorker campaign, we have had sixteen straight years of good old boy southerners in the Whitehouse. Yeah, I know Bush wasn’t born there but he spent his entire adult life in Texas and does his best to present a Texas persona. I am frankly tired of it. Why not give someone else a chance? Whehter that be a New Yorker or a midwesterner makes no difference to me. But, we have had enough of Southern neurosis for a while.

  14. This ought to be fun.

  15. I’ve seen Bloomberg/Hegel or Hegel/Bloomberg thrown out. They couldn’t be more different, except on the Iraq War, but I guess that’s enough these days.

  16. Shocked, shocked I am to see Reason commenters repeating the right-wing talking-point that Perot cost Bush the election.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/dick-morris-whoop-dat-t_b_8601.html

    “Polls showed the Perot vote split 50/50 for HW Bush and Clinton in both 1992 and 1996. In 1992, Clinton won by 6 points over Bush I, so it would most likely not have made a difference had Perot not been there. Clinton also won by 370-168 in the electoral college.

  17. Why, you confounded leach, I’ll teach you to link to Huffingtonpost.crap, you little swindler!!

    BOOM! POW! You rascal….CRASH! BANG!

  18. Either that or the Democrats and Republicans say “never again!” and pass a law forbidding candidates to fund their own campaigns.

    Yeah, heaven forbid a grassroots uprising mucks up the natural course of democracy.

  19. “suburban soccer mom busybodies who can’t quite stomach voting for Hillary” -John

    We’ll see. I predict that frustration over EVERYTHING will lead many a woman, in the privacy of the voting booth, to cast a WTF vote for Hillary.

  20. “What has Bloomberg done? If he’s such a great CEO, what’s with the MTA?”

    to be fair, you can’t blame the MTA on him. it’s like a force of nature that totally sucks.

  21. The mayor has little power over the MTA: the board is appointed by the governor. Being a regional agency, it has members from all over the metropolitan area.

  22. Can anyone say “federal smoking bans?”

  23. f?d’?r-?l sm?’k?ng b?ns

    (In case you have trouble.)

  24. Rhywun: I think the Mayor appoints 4 or 5 of those members. More importantly, I really wasn’t talking about reforming the MTA by fiat. Perhaps I should have been a bit more longwinded. If he’s such a good CEO, why has he been unable to reform the MTA by lobbying the governor for support and also using his 4 or 5 seats. Part of being a leader is consensus building.

    Other than not let crime rise again, I can’t name anything he’s done.

  25. Bloomberg is one of those back door gun control fanactics – trying to sue gun dealers and manufacturers in other states for crimes in New York.

    As for billionaires trying to buy the presidency, George Soros has been trying to do that behind the scenes for years.

  26. Or he wins, in which case the paranoids end up being correct.

  27. why has he been unable to reform the MTA by lobbying the governor for support

    Probably because he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. The MTA may be a monstrous hydra, but all the average voter sees is that the system continues to run pretty well most of the time ever since the bad old graffiti days. I think the bigger problem is with the labor unions, but that’s a can of worms he won’t touch.

  28. Didn’t the original “campaign reform” law (the one that created the FPPC) try to impose spending limits that included the candidate’s own purse, only to have that provision struck down by the Supreme Court way back in the eighties? I’d be surprised if the present Court even agreed to hear the issue again.

    Even Robert Bork believed political speech deserved First Amendment protection.

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