Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s dramatic and defiant flight to Israel to protest the U.S. ban on flights to Ben Gurion airport got me thinking. Can anyone imagine Hillary Clinton doing anything so daring, so anti-authoritarian, as that? Has she ever done anything truly shocking and trend-setting?
And that brings me to the ideal candidate to take her on from the left: Bloomberg. He has been a Democrat, a Republican and an independent (a man for all voters!). He is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage (much earlier than Clinton was), anti-gun, anti-smoking and anti-trans fat. Although he is a billionaire, he regularly rode the subway to work as mayor and never claimed to be broke. He has been a prominent advocate for immigration reform and for measures against global warming. What’s not to like if you’re a Democrat? Sure, he balanced budgets, but liberals will happily recall that he raised taxes to do so. Sure, he initially supported the Iraq war, but then so did Clinton. And unlike Clinton, he has been a relatively successful executive. And, what’s more, he could self-finance.
Yes, Bloomberg has mulled a run before, but circumstances may finally be right in 2016. The Democrats are stuck with an “inevitable” nominee burdened by baggage and staleness. Bloomberg can ride to the rescue, not worried about ruffling feathers in the party and not concerned about raising money. And even if he doesn’t win, what better way to stay in the limelight?
It’s a measure both of the weak bench and the nagging worries about Clinton’s real viability in the general election that Bloomberg may be the most realistic and capable rival to take the anvil off the Democrats’ backs.