Streams

Give Bloomberg a Chance

Monday, February 18, 2002

Some new yorkers are still in shock that a billionaire media mogul with no government experience has been elected mayor. But wnyc’s brian lehrer says if you’re one of those people, look on the bright side.

Brian:

On the morning after the election, an unhappy politically progressive colleague walked up to me with the following challenge.: tell me one good thing about this guy being elected mayor. I’ll do better than that: I’ll tell you five.

Number one: the thing that horrifies progressives most about bloomberg is that he’s a rich guy who bought the election. And he is. But let’s look at the upside: He has no campaign contributors.

That means no banks, no insurance companies, no george steinbrenner, and best of all to liberal sensibilities, no real estate developers. Donald trump supported green, remember. That says a lot. And bloomberg this week turned down a tax break his company was supposed to get from the city. Recipients of corporate welfare, watch out.

Reason number two: bloomberg’s election is a stunning victory for minority empowerment. Half the latinos who usually vote democratic, and many of the african-americans most angry at the dissing of al sharpton crossed party lines for bloomberg. He’ll have to work to keep those voters on his side, AND you won’t see white democrats taking them for granted again anytime soon.

Reason number three: Bloomberg comes from sales. I know that sounds bad, but it can also be good. Remember, Rudy giuliani was a prosecutor before becoming mayor. And he governed like one. until september 11th, rudy ran the city by accusation. For him to win, anyone who disagreed with him had to lose. As a salesman, bloomberg is steeped in the art of the win-win deal. he’s already shaken sharpton’s hand, something giuliani didn’t do in eight long years.

number four: Liberals are supposed to put their faith in youth. Remember the slogan "never trust anyone over 30?" Bloomberg may be 59, but there was a significant age gap in the final vote - green won overwhelmingly among voters 65 and over. Bloomberg’s biggest margin was among those in their 20s.

1:45

and reason number five: bloomberg ran for mayor as an act of philanthropy. He seems to sincerely believe, as someone who has made all the money he could possibly ever use, that he’s in this to give something back. While that may be a little paternalistic, it’s also the classic liberal do-gooder mentality. Conservatives will feel the loss of rudy’s permanent state of rage. Liberals should be heartened.

Yes there have been gaffes and blind spots. No, mike, taxis are not a form of public transportation. No, mike, there are no third-party witnesses to rape. No mike, poor kids don’t get asthma because their parents don’t clean house. As a political newcomer, mike bloomberg is a work in progress. so don’t write him off. work on him. And of course, give him hell when he’s wrong.

but let’s put aside the fact that bloomberg is a rich guy who bought the election. The election’s over. He’s also a sincere guy who wants to do good. let’s give him a chance.


Anchor: wnyc’s brian lehrer. you can hear his call-in show every weekday at 10am.

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