Thomas Friedman’s call for Michael Bloomberg to run for president is odd in that the New York Times columnist doesn’t think that the Big Apple’s mayor needs to be in it to win it. (It’s a good thing since Bloomberg himself has previously suggested that America’s not yet ready to elect “a short, Jewish billionaire from New York” — though that didn’t stop him and his aides from flirting with a run.)
Instead, Friedman suggests that Bloomberg could usefully contribute just by getting in the debates:
Bloomberg doesn’t have to win to succeed — or even stay in the race to the very end. Simply by running, participating in the debates and doing respectably in the polls — 15 to 20 percent — he could change the dynamic of the election and, most importantly, the course of the next administration, no matter who heads it. By running on important issues and offering sensible programs for addressing them — and showing that he had the support of the growing number of Americans who describe themselves as independents — he would compel the two candidates to gravitate toward some of his positions as Election Day neared. And, by taking part in the televised debates, he could impose a dose of reality on the election that would otherwise be missing. Congress would have to take note.
It’s unclear whether the business-building, aircraft-piloting, short, Jewish billionaire would get in a race he didn’t think he was going to win.
But Bloomberg has indeed taken the sorts of stances on taxes and entitlement reform that Friedman would like to see articulated in the presidential race. Friedman has argued that Obama should have embraced the Bowles-Simpson commission’s deficit-reduction recommendations, while the mayor gave a speech last year supporting the commission’s proposed cuts and calling for a return to Clinton-era tax rates.