Bye bye, boomlet

    As we ease into the silly season of speculation about the 2012 presidential race – Donald “The Donald” Trump hints that he might run! Rudy “Noun, Verb, 9/11” Giuliani hints that he might run! Again! – can we all at least agree to drive a spike into the latest Michael Bloomberg boomlet?It has become a tired ritual, at least within the Manhattan-centric media, to float the New York mayor as an independent candidate for the White House. The New York Times announced on Sept. 18 that Bloomberg was “trying to pull politics back to the middle,” thereby “stirring a new round of speculation about his presidential ambitions.” The New York Daily News reported in October that the “Mike talk” was “entangling itself with calls for an independent candidacy.” On the eve of the midterm elections, New York magazine talked up a ’12 Bloomberg candidacy (which was no surprise, since New York magazine, in a 2006 cover story, had talked up an ’08 Bloomberg candidacy). Then, shortly after the midterms, The Huffington Post ran a lengthy story, citing “well-placed sources” who felt that ’12 could be an ideal environment for the humility-challenged billionaire; in the quoted words of MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Bloomberg is “one of the best administrators we have had in American politics in quite some time.”Granted, Bloomberg could easily self-fund a national independent campaign; he’d need to spend roughly $1 billion, but that’s only 1/20th of his reported personal fortune. And given the usual polarization in Washington, and the likelihood of more to come, maybe there’s a niche in the ’12 race for a proven bipartisan maverick who “knocks heads across party lines.” (OK, that quote is mine. I wrote my one and only Bloomberg boomlet column on Dec. 10, 2006.)But I think we can safely dispense with the ’12 Mike talk, and not just because it’s tough to foresee a national market for a divorced Jewish guy who stands five-foot-seven. More reasons:1. Yesterday, the New York-based Marist poll reported that Bloomberg’s job approval rating had plunged to 37 percent, the lowest of his lengthy mayoral tenure. Clearly, this is a response to his perceived ineptitude during the recent blizzard, but even last October, when the boomlet buzz was high, his approval rating was only 50 percent. New Yorkers, admittedly a tough audience, apparently don’t buy Joe Scarborough’s laudatory description.2. You’re no doubt familiar with the song (a classic case of New York chauvinism), where Frank Sinatra sings, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”? Well, those lyrics have never rang true for any New York mayor. None has ever ascended to higher elective office. Even the trial-ballooning Huffington Post story acknowledged that Bloomberg is “a provincial Upper East Side New Yorker,” and it quoted an anonymous friend who feared that a Bloomberg candidacy wouldn’t travel well (“I’m not sure that it doesn’t get to the tunnel and die right there”).3. No centrist independent candidacy can make it anywhere, unless the two major parties cede the center of the electorate. Bloomberg’s only theoretical hope would be for the GOP to drift further rightward, and President Obama to drift further leftward. That won’t happen. Obama is already signaling that he intends to occupy the middle ground – as evidenced by his recent tax-cut deal with the GOP, and, this week, by his decision to hire business-friendly JPMorgan Chase executive William Daley as his new chief of staff (a move that has infuriated liberals and pleased the U.S. Chamber of Commerce).All of which means that we can surely take Bloomberg at his word when he insists – as he has done repeatedly in recent weeks – that he won’t do it. This appears to be one of those rare political episodes when no really means no. He’s not the kind of guy who would open his checkbook for a quixotic quest and the likely humiliation of defeat.But his mayoral predecessor seems impervious to humiliation. Rudy Giuliani’s people used the New York Post today to float a ’12 trial balloon, telling the paper that the so-called 9/11 hero is confident of his prospects for the GOP nomination. That would be a kick. When Rudy ran last time, he couldn’t make it anywhere. In fact, he crafted my favorite statistic of the ’08 election cycle: He spent $60 million and wound up with one delegate. Wouldn’t you love to see him try again, and perhaps break the mayoral jinx? Start spreading the news...——-The Republican House era should be fun. Here’s the second best John Boehner quote of the week:When asked for his reaction yesterday to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that health care reform repeal would hike the budget deficit by $230 billion over the next 10 years, the new House speaker said: “CBO is entitled to their opinion.”(Republicans routinely praise the CBO when they deem it to be in their interest. Picking one at random, here’s Senator John Cornyn in 2009: “I believe the professionals at the Congressional Budget Office are doing very difficult but unpopular work. They are speaking the truth to power here in Washington…I think they are doing an important service by telling us the facts.”)And here’s the best Boehner quote of the week. It occurred last night on NBC News, during an exchange with Brian Williams about the GOP’s campaign vow to slash domestic spending by $100 billion.Williams: “Name a program right now that we could do without.”Boehner: “I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.”——-And bye bye to Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, who, in the president’s farewell words, managed to survive on his “relatively modest pay” of $172,200. I think I speak for many when I suggest that it would be a fine opportunity indeed to earn so modestly.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.