Tom Friedman didn’t like his last trip on the Acela (one-way ticket at the gate, ~$215) so now he thinks Michael Bloomberg should run for President:
I had to catch a train in Washington last week. The paved street in the traffic circle around Union Station was in such poor condition that I felt as though I was on a roller coaster. I traveled on the Amtrak Acela, our sorry excuse for a fast train, on which I had so many dropped calls on my cellphone that you’d have thought I was on a remote desert island, not traveling from Washington to New York City. When I got back to Union Station, the escalator in the parking garage was broken. Maybe you’ve gotten used to all this and have stopped noticing. I haven’t. Our country needs a renewal.
And that is why I still hope Michael Bloomberg will reconsider running for president as an independent candidate, if only to participate in the presidential debates and give our two-party system the shock it needs.
Well, he ain’t resting on his “wanker of the decade” laurels.
The thrust of the piece is that Mitt Romney is too much of an extremist due to his “ludicrous opposition” to tax hikes, and Obama has no credible plan to address the deficit. He leaves out that Romney’s “ludicrous opposition” has nothing to do with any personal ideological intractability and everything to do with the GOP base’s wishes and his own belief that they’re simply too high in the first place. And it doesn’t occur to Friedman that Obama’s lack of a meaningful deficit-reduction plan might have something to do with his economic advisors telling him they aren’t a problem.
Until Romney sewed up the nomination I thought a Bloomberg run was a great idea. It would shave off just enough Obama voters in the northeast to hand the election to the GOP. Now I’m not so sure, especially now that Bloomberg has walked back his formerly unreserved support of Obamacare. Romney, especially with a safe northeastern VP pick like Chris Christie, would be fighting over the same set of voters.
But where does Friedman get off saying Bloomberg is “straight-talking, socially moderate and fiscally conservative?” He may express a salutary tolerance for gay marriage, but the man banned smoking outside and has a rather totalitarian view of the second amendment. He is not a moderate on social issues, he is an extremist. Nor does he feel any compunction about meddling in elections outside his own state to further his crusades. Wherever he deviates from either party’s standard view, he defers to greater centralization of power to accomplish utilitarian goals. Bloomberg is a progressive that knows how money works.
The fact that Friedman is either ignorant of or unbothered by that says a lot about his cheap, uncritical views on globalization too. A decentralized global market has given us iPads, Skype, and middlebrow culinary fads like quinoa, but the moment his cell phone service between DC and New York is dropped it’s time f0r a program of National Greatness atavism. The world only looks flat from the top of Bloomberg tower.
On a tangentially related note, check out Ron Unz’s cover story from the May issue about a nation in the midst of a Friedmanesque “renewal.”