Some politicians grow in office. Others merely bloat.
You can mark down Michael Bloomberg as a bloater. He’s the billionaire who’s been mayor of New York City for two terms, and now he desperately wants to hold onto the office for another four years. How desperate is he? He publicly broke his word, sold his soul, and turned his back on the will of the people to get another shot at the mayorship.
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You see, standing in the way of hizzoner’s political ambition was a little speedbump called term limits. New Yorkers have voted not once, but twice, to restrict their mayors and city council members to two consecutive terms. The people of this great city are pretty adamantly behind this proviso – so much so that Bloomberg himself once championed it. “We cannot ignore their will,” he insisted.
But that was sooo yesterday. Today, bloated by hubris, Bloomberg has declared himself indispensible. Citing the ongoing Wall Street collapse, he claims that the city itself cannot survive the tumult without his steady business hand on the tiller. So, he declared magnanimously, the city council must expand the term limits law to three terms.
It was not an easy sell. For one thing, the mayor had been pushing hard for the change months before Wall Street took a dive, so his “key man” rational was pure hokum. Second, the move was grossly unpopular – 89 percent of New Yorkers said that any proposed change should be decided by a public vote, not by city council fiat.
Usually, the council majority is a rubber stamp for the mayor, but this time he had to use all of his political muscle to squeeze out a 29 to 22 victory – a “victory” that was greeted by shouts of “shame on you” from the public gallery. Bloomberg now says he’ll spend $80 million to win next year’s race, and it sounds like he’ll need every dime of it.
“Council Backs Bloomberg Bid To Run Again,” The New York Times, October 24, 2008.
“Dispensable Arrogance,” Washington Post, October 12, 2008.
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