Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has spent over $100
million on his reelection campaign against Democrat Bill Thompson. No
candidate has ever spent more of his private fortune on a single
political campaign. (This does not make it the most expensive
campaign--President Barack Obama raised, and presumably spent, $150 million
in a single month of his 2008 campaign.) Bloomberg, an independent candidate, has spent $245
million of his $16 billion fortune on this and his previous two mayoral campaigns. He has also come under fire for using political leverage to circumvent term limits that would have
precluded the third term he is now all but guaranteed.
'Pax Bloombergiana' Is Worth It The New Yorker's Hendrick Hertzberg argues
that Bloomberg's extensive accomplishments outweigh the undemocratic
nature of the election. "New Yorkers know all this. We know that we're
bought and paid for. We
know that there is something unseemly, even humiliating, about
submitting ourselves to be ruled by the richest man in town," he
writes. "The truth is that Michael Bloomberg has been a very good
record is mixed, of course, but the mixture is largely positive. Crime
is down. Public education is better, owing mainly to the Mayor's
takeover of the system. The racial rancor of Giuliani Time is gone.
People are healthier and longer-lived, and it would be rash to suggest
that the Mayor's nanny-state initiatives--his smoking bans, his
banishment of trans fats, his posted calorie counts--have had nothing to
do with this happy development. [...] The Pax Bloombergiana will endure
a while longer."
If He Spent Half That on Housing Programs Gawker's Alex Pareene slams
Bloomberg, who he says has "been unable to win any political battle
with anyone he couldn't literally buy off." He writes, "Meanwhile: 40,000 people in shelters!
Bloomberg could personally buy every single one of those people an
apartment in a vacant Williamsburg luxury condo building and still have
enough left over to bribe a City Council member into supporting his
fifth term." Pareene laments, "His record on housing, like his record on nearly everything having to
do with the outer boroughs and poverty and human beings who make less
than $100,000 a year, has been a ridiculous disgrace. His entire
philosophy of development solving everything turned out to be
precisely, 100% wrong, and suddenly the city itself was driving the
real estate boom, driving up land prices to absurd levels across the
boroughs and tearing down neighborhoods only to replace them with
vacant lots and half-filled cheaply built hideous high-rises once the
bottom fell out of the City Hall-inflated market."
An Anti-Democratic Precedent The Washington Times's Dan Thomasson warns that this could become standard practice. "It is what this kind of expenditure says about the electoral system
that is scary. It seems a clear perversion of the democratic process,
where a person's election to public office should be based on
characteristics other than how much wealth he has. But that's not the
American way these days," he writes. "His aides claim it is because he is an independent who takes nothing
from special interests, unlike his opponent who practices politics as
usual. The implication is that his financially disadvantaged Democratic
opponent, Mr. Thompson, owes what little he has to those who stand to
benefit from his election."
He Didn't Have to Buy itJoyce Purnick insists
in the New York Times that Bloomberg would have won without the
expensive campaign. "No incumbent mayor of New York City has ever lost
re-election unless done in by corruption, financial ruin or racial
tension," she writes. "New York's mayors benefit from more than the
usual advantages of
incumbency. They are all-powerful, enabled by a weak city legislature
and encouraged by influential figures in business and the news media
who have seen the damage caused by ineffective leadership. [...] The
mayor would no doubt be ahead in this race even if, instead of
outspending Mr. Thompson by more than 14 to 1 (and counting), he had
limited himself to his rival's spending -- a total of about $6 million
as of last month."
'Rules Don't Apply to Him' The Daily Show's Jon Stewart lambastes
Bloomberg's hypocrisy on term limits (video below). "It's been a great
eight years," Stewart admits, but shows a series of clips demonstrating
that Bloomberg once vehemently supported the term limits he now
opposes. Stewart calls this "disgraceful" and jokes
Bloomberg is "too rich to follow" city law. "What can I say, he's a
local hero, rules don't apply to him."
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