Friday evening on the commuter train: the car was full, not overly crowded, a few open seats. I managed to find one where both seats on the bench were open, except they weren’t, really. Across from me was a young man with the word “FEARLESS” tattooed in capitalized block letters on his lower thigh just above his knee cap. The kid was cute, definitely well-aware of his youthful jockness. He was also manspreading with a will. He was literally all over both seats, the one he was sitting in, and the one next to it and he had the leg with the tattoo propped up on the seat next to mine. I so wanted to take a picture, and title it “Manspreading. The Illustrated Definition.”
Fortunately I did not reach for my phone. I was only on the train for four stops and I could handle a bit of manspreading for the few minutes it would take for me to never see the young man ever again. Hopefully he will learn that his conduct was on the marginally acceptable side of things before he gets married.
The next morning listening to the news I heard that Michael Bloomberg, rich guy, former mayor of New York, business media mogul, was of the unhumble opinion that none of the Democratic Presidential candidates were worthy opponents to defeat Donald Trump (who I shall refer to as POUTS) so he was going to enter the Democratic Party Presidential Primary race. WTF?
The news outlet I was listening to (NPR or Tune In MSNBC or Tune In CNN) followed the announcement by playing an excerpt from the Spring 2019 interview with Bloomberg going on and on (and on) about why he was not going to join the rather crowded field of Democratic Presidential primary candidates. Bloomberg had served in his most notable political position, Mayor of the City of New York, as a Republican. So now he is going to run as a moderate Democrat?
Bernie Sanders, noted independent, self-described Socialist, at least has a history of caucusing with the Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Bloomberg’s political role as a Democrat has been as a financier of Democratic campaigns and causes near and dear to the basic left like environmental stuff. Its not as if Bloomberg did not know that there was already one really rich guy in the steeple chase pack of Democratic “I Wanna Be President” candidates. There’s also a pretty rich guy in the pelaton bringing up the rear, Mr. Yang, and at least two people who could have afforded to stay in the race at their own expense, have seen reason and dropped out. So now, six months after he, Bloomberg, with a flourish declined to throw himself into the fray, is throwing himself into the fray.
This feels and looks a bit like a participant in a triathlon showing up for the swimming portion of the race on a jet ski. It seems that he had no real interest in the bicycling part of the race and appears to be planning to use either a motorized scooter or roller skates for the half-marathon portion of the event. And then there’s the fact that in his mad quest for electoral glory Bloomberg is adding himself to the list of possible octogenarian first term Presidents of the United States. An octogenarian Pope makes some sense, however it must be noted that Pope Benedict (the former Cardinal Ratzinger) resigned at the age of 86 and is now the first Pope Emeritus in living memory.
Bloomberg’s announcement has not been met with a groundswell of enthusiasm. A tsunami of indifference accompanied by a rising tide of irritation and resentment best describes the attitude of the pack of candidates the former Republican mayor of New York has joined in the Democratic primary. The further announcement that Bloomberg plans to focus on the Super Tuesday primary states seems like a candidate buying himself a coronation after all of the other legitimate claimants to the throne have exhausted themselves in (dubious) battle.
So, Michael, really? Look, the last thing any one and I mean any one wants is another New Yorker claiming that he can run the entire country. Even POUTS doesn’t want that title, remember he changed his domicile to Florida. Then there is the rich guy thing. Not that I have any problems with someone being wealthy, but this probably is not the year to push yourself as the Great Blue Hope when everyone knows you’re dripping in greenbacks, legitimately even.
My point is this: I’m going public with the “I miss the bad old days” speech usually made by well-seasoned pols who knew how to function in smoke-filled backrooms. The problem with transparency and fairness is exactly that, transparency and fairness. Every one, and as our current predicament so aptly depicts, every one and any one thinks they “can be (ok make that) should be POTUS”. This really isn’t true. Some people are great candidates, some people are great speech writers, some people are amazing legislative fixers and two of them are running the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Bloomberg, is playing the role of the theatrical producer/investor who decides that since the play is being written on the fly, he should take the lead. I think not. Successful writer-director-producer-actors, are basically unicorns, delicate, ephemeral with a reputation for oneriness. Political financiers on the other hand usually have far better career outcomes. I am pretty certain that only two of the current crop of candidates would not entertain the option of having Bloomberg serve in their Cabinets. There is a time honored tradition of handing out ambassador positions to particularly generous and influential political donors. I am pretty sure the European Union would give Bloomberg the job now if they could arrange it. Maybe 20 years ago a President Bloomberg might have made sense. But now, the very thought of candidate Bloomberg embodies two things, and not in a good way: privilege and entitlement.