Like his mayor, Feinblatt has consistently criticized the president as failing to do anything more than talk about preventing gun violence, especially when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. (“When they were in power they didn’t do it,” Bloomberg, an independent, said in an interview last week.)
But here was Obama, in a major speech, doing and saying much of what Bloomberg and Feinblatt wanted. In one regard, it could be seen as a victory for the studiously postpartisan mayor’s strategy of heaping more blame on the party that agreed with him than the one that didn’t. And Bloomberg was not one to let the opportunity slip by.
“Today it’s clear that the president and vice president heard us,” Bloomberg said at a press conference in New York on Wednesday after the president’s address.
But it also demonstrated how much the ground under Bloomberg had moved since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre last month. Now that a parade of elected officials – including the highest in the land – were calling for gun control, Bloomberg had lost his status as the most prominent voice on the issue. Some people have suggested this is a good thing, as the cosmopolitan mayor doesn’t exactly translate well in the Southern strongholds of gun rights activists -- a critique that Feinblatt says overlooks the fact that the mayor was “the one person with courage.”
But it also misses the promise of Bloomberg’s involvement on this issue that matters most: The mayor has the distinction of being a multibillionaire politician who has the potential to change the landscape on guns with the signing of a check. The question for Bloomberg, then, is not just how much he’s willing to give — “You want a number, and I’m not going to give you one,” he has said -- it’s which candidates will bear the brunt of his largesse.
In the interview last week, Bloomberg said he would be a “counterweight” to the NRA, but he also made it clear he does not want to be the George Soros of guns, a blue-state-based billionaire giving blanket funding to progressive causes. Instead, Bloomberg wants to project bipartisan credibility to persuade Republicans to abandon the absolutism of the NRA. Hence the Bloomberg-commissioned survey by Luntz, who said, “The poll shows that if the NRA were not so absolute they would have an easier time protecting Second Amendment rights.”