Obama and McCain May Be Considering Bloomberg

Obama and McCain May Be Considering Bloomberg


As previously reported, John McCain may be considering New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the vice president spot. One issue: he may be on Barack Obama’s list as well.

The very fact that the exact same man is possibly being considered by both the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees tells us that both sides’ attempts to paint the opposing candidate as an ideological radical are rather disingenuous. While Obama is strongly liberal on many issues and McCain is strongly conservative on just as many, the two men both actively court an image of pragmatism and moderation that makes it hard to believe either is particularly outside the general mainstream. Mayor Bloomberg would give either of the nominees a boost among the large numbers of independents who care more about results and practical programs than about ideological purity.

But who would benefit more from Bloomberg’s presence? I think McCain would. While it’s true that Bloomberg could help Obama shore up the Jewish vote (which he’s struggling to secure), he doesn’t add any foreign policy credentials to Obama’s flimsy resume. Bloomberg would, however, give McCain much needed economic credibility as well as signaling to the nation that this is not a ticket running for George Bush’s third term. Furthermore, since McCain trails Obama in fundraising, it wouldn’t hurt to have a billionaire on the ticket.

One more thing to consider: Bloomberg has a history of supporting the conflict in Iraq, a position that would make him an easier fit with McCain than with Obama and might help mollify the conservatives who’d choke on their coffee over Bloomberg’s socially liberal views.

Nevertheless, despite Bloomberg’s obvious appeal, the reality of politics may end up keeping the mayor on the sidelines. His Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent history will disturb power brokers of both parties and his rather managerial personality would make him an even less effective attack dog than was John Edwards. Personally, I’d be surprised to see him turn up on either ticket, but I do expect his endorsement to be strongly courted by both campaigns.

  • Grant Gould

    Bloomberg has yet to demonstrate that he can bring anything to the table. His not-so-thinly-veiled self-coronation attempt with Unity08 was pretty much a total flop. Does anyone really believe that he’s got a big knapsack full of independent voters just waiting to see which way he jumps? If he had that, he’d have run himself.

    McCain at least would have the excuse of money-hunting for picking Bloomberg (now there’s a choice — Bloomberg: As Rich as Romney and only half as irritating!). For Obama it would be complete madness.

  • SMS

    Conservative Republicans for fifty years had tended to denigrate the importance of personal diplomacy,” said Richard Norton Smith, the former director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in a PBS film on the ’85 summit. “It’s the legacy of the Yalta Conference and they thought Franklin Roosevelt had sold us out and then we sold out China. We were all selling out someone. The sale was usually by a president who thought if only he could get in a room with his Soviet counterpart his charm and his arguments would prevail. That was the conservative position and yet Reagan clearly believed he could do that: the force of his personality of his arguments and above all of his sincerity would impress itself upon the Soviets.”

    Reagan went into that meeting with challenges more daunting than what U.S. faces in modern Iran. And the president’s objective — to back away from the brink of nuclear war while refusing to draw down America’s commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) — seemed, on the surface, to be an untenable proposition. But largely because of his personal touch, it was achieved.

    “I think in terms of reaching out, Reagan went against the advice of what we would call today ‘the neocons,'” said Lawrence Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration. “He took the lead in negotiating with the Soviets. He broke the impasse that a lot of people in government didn’t want him to do it.”

    But it wasn’t just with Gorbachev in which Reagan showed an inclination for personal involvement in foreign affairs. As George Schultz, Reagan’s Secretary of State, wrote in a concluding section of his memoir “Understanding Ronald Reagan”: “Critics said Ronald Reagan read too many letters and not enough briefing books. I often wished he would spend more time on the briefing books, mastering details more fully and following up more aggressively on the management of foreign policy. But the letters buoyed him up and also gave him a continuing sense of contact with the people.”

    All of which, aides and biographers say, was part of a broader decision made by Reagan that engagement, even on a non-political level, was an essential political tactic.

    “He had a very strong belief in personal diplomacy.” said Paul Kengor, author of “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.” Reagan placed “enormous confidence in his personal ability to get along with other leaders. Reagan knew that he generally throughout his life got along well with people and they generally liked him.”

    Sounds like the Obama foreign policy philosophy to me…