Bloomberg: a Reasonable Alternative?

With the drawbacks for the major party nominees, the New York mayor may be the answer.


It should come as no surprise that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City is still viewed as a presidential savior in 2008.

Despite his disclaimers, the mayor remains a lively talking point. Just look at his landing on the cover of Newsweek. His moves from Democrat to Republican to independent seem to endear him only more to the pundits. His huge fortune doesn't hurt either for a public official who gets things done efficiently in an often dysfunctional city.

During his tenure, Bloomberg has been able to operate without scandal and has quietly served his constituents well, according to nearly every source.

Why the Bloomberg phenomenon? Consider the front-runners of the two major parties.

For the Republicans, Rudy Giuliani continues to amaze. His endorsement by Pat Robertson makes them the prominent odd couple of the campaign so far. A few years ago, Rudy would have most likely denounced Robertson as a near nutcase.

Then comes the case of Bernard Kerik, Rudy's police commissioner when he has mayor and later his business partner. According to a federal indictment last week, Kerik is a white-collar criminal. If his trial comes during a campaign with Rudy as the GOP nominee, it won't be helpful.

Still, Giuliani tops the Republican field as a defender of gay rights, abortion rights, and gun control. Conservatives can be difficult to figure when they embrace his record.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton does not wear well in a book by author Sally Bedell Smith. Clinton comes across as a mercurial figure—domineering, secretive, scheming, often angry, and, of course, ambitious. Forget the ambition because most politicians are that way.

But Smith's portrayal of Clinton is disquieting. Some of her traits are troublesome for a potential president. And she is far ahead in her party while Rudy still has a fight on his hands in the GOP.

If the voters decode in a few months that it will be Rudy vs. Hillary, that third New Yorker Michael Bloomberg may hear the call.

Third-party candidates have done poorly in the nation's history, but this could be different. For journalists, it would be a great story to cover.