I’ve just returned from Boren and Bloomberg’s Old People With Microphones Hour. Here is what I learned:
We need to be bipartisan, or maybe nonpartisan. In any case, all of the political candidates need to provide specifics. But also a grand strategy. And we should have a national unity government, like Churchill! (Shh… nobody mention the differences between a presidential and parliamentary system,)
The greatest generation sure was great! As were Lincoln and FDR. Are we… the lousiest generation?
Let’s talk policy. The most recent energy bill doesn’t do nearly enough. (No arguments there.) If we fought WWII in 4 years, we can do more than change our light bulbs in that time. (Again, not arguing with that.) So what to do? Carbon tax? “Clean” coal? CAFE standards? Nuclear power from sea to shining sea? Better not go there… too (gasp) partisan!
If you think you’re a leader, and nobody’s following you, then you’re just taking a walk. We need to have duties instead of rights, because that’s the difference between a democracy and a republic. We’re all entitled to our own opinion, but not our own facts. That’s why we started public education when we kicked King George out of the country, so the citizens can look out for themselves! Except now they aren’t voting. But look for where the independents are voting in primaries. (Shh… nobody mention that independents are a jumbled mix of leftists, libertarians, anti-immigration nationalists, the confused, the disengaged, and the ignorant.)
College football rivalries!
9/11 sure did unify the country, though. Why can’t we have something like that again?
More seriously, the whole event was pretty much what you would expect from a committee of old politicians all gathered to agree with each other. Any controversial bits were weeded out, leaving only cliche and strenuously inoffensive calls for national unity, problem solving, and bipartisanship. And since a good portion of the panel was former or current Senators, there was plenty of bloviation and rambling.
The national press turned out in masses to see this thing. And they clearly had one thing on their minds: is Bloomberg going to run? Unfortunately, it was about the worst possible setting for any reporter to get at that question. The panel was so large, and the panelists so long-winded, that only two or three questions were asked. Even the questions that did get through were not given real answers. It was just an excuse for the assembled crew to go speech-making.
And if all of this results in a Bloomberg bid for the presidency, which is the only way it could genuinely impact anything, it would have the perverse effect of dividing the electorate and preventing any one candidate from winning a majority. This is at a time when we so obviously have one party interested in protecting the environment, supporting the poor and middle class, controlling the deficit, and achieving universal healthcare, and the other party specializing in obstructionism, politicization of everything, and endless war (I’ll let you guess which is which). Obviously even the better party has plenty of flaws, but the place to improve those is not as an independent threat to give everything back to the bad guys. The place to work for positive change is inside the, okay, I’ll say it, Democratic Party. Those who really want national unity should be working to give the Democrats a large enough majority to claim it, and then work inside the party for those constructive changes that we all agree are needed.
In this situation, a Bloomberg run would be hugely irresponsible and a blow to everything he claims to value.