The phone rang yesterday, and the caller asked if I would agree to answer questions for a survey on current affairs. The first questions were about whether I intended to vote and who I had voted for in the past. Then right track/wrong track. Then I was asked if I would consider voting for an independent. Yes, I said. Have I ever voted for an independent before? Yes (Kinky). Immediately, I was asked if I had heard of Michael Bloomberg and what my opinion of him was. Then the caller read a rather extensive biography of Bloomberg and asked if I would consider voting for him. By this time, it was obvious that this was a Bloomberg-sponsored poll. The window is closing on a Bloomberg bid for the presidency, because candidates seeking to get on the ballot in Texas have only 60 days after the primary to gather the necessary signatures on petitions, and no candidate can afford to fail to compete for Texas’s electoral votes.
The question about whether I would “consider” voting for Bloomberg struck me as odd. I had already identified my political leanings as “independent.” Sure, I’d consider voting for him. Am I likely to do it? No. If the race were between Clinton and and any Republican other than McCain, I’d probably vote for him. But between Clinton and McCain, I’ll vote for McCain, and if the race were between Obama and McCain, I’d be very happy with the choice.
The poll was quite extensive. The first question about issues concerned Iraq. Did I strongly approve of our current strategy, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove? Tough question. I strongly disapprove of the way the war has been conducted, but the surge has turned things around somewhat. I said I somewhat approved, but I don’t think that is an accurate reflection of what I think of the way the Bush administration has pursued the war — lack of armor for our troops, lack of a rebuilding plan, loss of focus on Afghanistan, torture, Rumsfeld’s arrogance, and all the other mistakes that have allowed Iran, the truly dangerous enemy, to gain a huge foothold in Iraq. This was not an unforeseeable consequence.
Then the caller asked about whether various issues were problems. The economy was first. Strongly agree it’s a problem. The second was “Washington?” Who is going to say No? Not me. But “Washington” is supposed to be a problem. The framers wrote the Constitution to make it difficult to pass legislation and to interfere with vested interests. I don’t think the caller would have been interested in that little lecture. I was asked my opinion of various folks–Bush, McCain, Clinton, Obama, Rick Perry. I’m not going to say what I answered, except to say that I gave the same response for Perry and Clinton. I was asked whether I owned a gun. I was asked whether I thought abortion was a sin. I was asked whether I belonged to a labor union. I was asked whether I was considered various areas of public policy a major problem for the country: the economy, the public schools, loss of manufacturing jobs, rising health care costs, crime, illegal immigration. I was “somewhat disagree” on crime and “strongly disagree” on immigration, “strongly agree” on the others.
I think it’s too late for Bloomberg now, and I also wonder whether there ever was much of a chance. I thought Perot had a real shot in ’92, because he was widely known and had a quirky personality that appealed to the angry white male constituency, and the opposition was flawed. Bush 41 was a good man who had lost the base of his party and had little interest in domestic policy, and Bill Clinton had few credentials to be president and was already tarnished by his womanizing and Whitewater. But Perot went bizarro and he was reduced to being what third-party candidates always are reduced to: a lightning rod for the protest vote. This year is different. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain all have large followings. I don’t see any room for Bloomberg, except maybe as vice-president, or Secretary of the Treasury, in a McCain administration.