HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

September 3, 2007
Tell Me About Michael Bloomberg

Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com


I would be grateful if knowledgeable readers would let me know their views of Michael Bloomberg and the facts supporting those views. I currently know almost nothing about the man except he became tremendously rich in a business he started, spent a lot -- 70 million perhaps? -- to get himself elected mayor of New York, lives in a home that can be seen from the window of one of my friends’ apartment, and, according to my wife, has said he won’t be a candidate for president. But I am interested in learning about him because of things that happened yesterday and today.

Yesterday a posting here said we need a new kind of candidate instead of the typical amicable mediocrities who go from door to door or state to state for months or years on end in order to be elected. Instead of these hacks we need rational, thoughtful, reflective, smart achievers who seriously study and discuss questions that confront us in order to come up with potential solutions, and who communicate not by pounding on door after door or traveling from state to state for years on end, but by streaming internet video and audio. No names of people who fit this bill were given since, frankly, I did not know of any names. What was being offered instead was a conception, an idea, of what candidates ought to be. (Writers, artists, composer, sculptors, etc. often have visions they are trying to get across, and I was offering a vision without names.)

Today, by freak fortuity, I turned on CSpan II for a few minutes, and saw Bloomberg making a speech at Brookings on efforts to reduce poverty. To my personal amazement, he seemed to be the kind of person who met the vision offered in yesterday’s posting. He was very rational, very thoughtful. It was obvious that he and his aides or officials had thought a great deal about the problem. He offered ideas that have been tried in other countries, while not insisting that beyond peradventure they would work here -- unlike demento, he recognizes the possibility that his ideas might not prove sound. But he brilliantly defended his ideas against the conventional wisdom as to why they should not even be tried, and, like FDR seventy odd years ago, he said we must try something and if it doesn’t work we will improve it or try something else. He did not engage in the platitudes and political crapola that currently passes for political speech in this country, but rather discussed facts and data (and said that in his business data counts).

The speech was very impressive and, if it presents a fair overall picture of the man, would mean he could be exactly the kind of person I had in mind when speaking of the type of politicians we need -- he would be exactly the kind of man who should run for president on a third party ticket. His fitness would not be lessened by his ability to finance a campaign to the extent this might be necessary.

But, as said, aside from listening to parts of this speech, I know almost nothing about the man. Was the speech a fair representation of how he thinks and acts? Or was it an anomaly (as when Joe Biden recently made a very impressive appearance at the National Press Club but, only a short time later, seemed the typical political hack on Tom Ashbrook’s show (On Point) on NPR.)? And what are Bloomberg’s views on important subjects other than efforts to reduce poverty -- on foreign policy, the war, the national security state, the environment, regulation of business and so on? I would really appreciate hearing what other people have to say about this and what facts they cite in support of their views. I am the more interested, of course, because if Bloomberg truly is as he appeared at Brookings, and if he has decent views on a wide range of subjects, he could be a logical individual to run for President at the head of a third party which is desperately needed if we are to break the hold of the national security state mentality and of the mentality that is increasingly screwing over the great mass of Americans who are not filthy rich.


This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel.  If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu.  Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.


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