Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Mike Bloomberg is frustrated by some answers he heard in last night's debate. I'm frustrated, too. What I want to know is: What's Bloomberg's solution?
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama made a prophet out of Mayor Michael Bloomberg by failing to talk meaningfully, or even particularly comprehensibly, about guns.

"President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals," asked Nina Gonzalez toward the end of last night's town hall-style debate at Hofstra. "What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?"

... the bulk of [Obama's] response was about changing the culture, so as to reduce violence, generally speaking.

... Romney's response was tortured in a slightly different way.

... on that score, last night, Obama and Romney seemed to prove [Bloomberg] right, as [he] was only too eager to note at a next-day press conference at City Hall.

"I think what we did get was a perfect example of obfuscation and very little honesty," Bloomberg said....
Yeah, Mike, I agree -- it sucked. But what the hell else were they supposed to do that wouldn't have been political suicide?

The NRA strikes mortal fear into the hearts of all politicians in America who run for office outside extraordinarily pro-gun-control areas ... like, say, New York City, or the former home bases of the presidential candidates (Chicago, Massachusetts). Yeah, I'd like to see some pols stick their necks out on this issue, too -- but I'd like to see them able to stick their necks out and survive politically. That's still not possible in much of the country, and it's not possible in the country as a whole. Romney needs the pro-gun GOP base. Obama needs pro-gun blue-collar Democrats in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Ohio (and he remembers that Democrats lost the House and Senate a couple of months after the assault weapons ban became law in 1994).

Mike Bloomberg probably sees himself as a big leader on this issue -- but what has his so-called leadership accomplished? How many gun laws have Bloomberg and his Mayors Against Illegal Guns managed to change in a pro-gun-control direction? From the safety of Manhattan, pro-gun-control talk is cheap. What has Bloomberg done?

(Please note that he won't run for president, even though he's constantly flirting with the notion.)

I've told you what I'd like Mike Bloomberg to do: I'd like him to pull a Soros and use some of his billions to fund a real political counterweight to the NRA. I'd like it to poll and strategize and figure out what messages would peel off gun lovers from the hardcore, absolutist positions of the NRA. I'd like it to field telegenic spokespeople for news programs, and fund research that challenges the NRA's narrative. I'd also like Bloomberg to offer money to any candidate who does stick his neck out and then has to run outside the pro-gun-control cocoon.

Bloomberg risks nothing when he talks like this. America ceded so much power to the NRA long before Romney and Obama stepped into the national spotlight that those two risk everything. And that has to change. A political suicide mission isn't going to change it.


UPDATED: Yeah, I see now that Bloomberg is funding candidates who share his views by means of a super PAC. It's a handful of candidates now, and he's spending far less money overall than, say, Sheldon Adelson spent on Gingrich and Romney. And he's focusing on candidates who share his views on education here, gay rights there, guns over there. So it's diffuse. Thus, it's a small step on gun control.


BH said...

That's exactly right, Steve. Until Bloomberg's ready to help offset the certain NRA onslaught that comes to any pol who favors (or is even thought to favor) the slightest regulation of any firearm, he's got zero room to pontificate. And by "help", I don't mean setting up letterhead organizations like his mayors' outfit - I mean dinero.

Greg Hao said...

Not nothing (but not enough). Bloomberg sets up $15MM SuperPAC:

Steve M. said...

OK, that's a start -- a modest start.

Victor said...

Let Bloomberg spend a few of his billions of dollars running ads nationwide advocating gun control, and spitting in the face of the NRA - THE MOST successful lobbying group in American history!

Advocating for gun control in NYC, is like someone in a dry county in the South bitching about national liquor ads on TV.
Sure, the residents of your Dumfok County may hate liquor being sold, and being legal everwhere except your district, but a hell of a lot of people sure have been willing to buy a lot of liquor, because the ads sure seem to be working.

White Hat said...

Bloomberg would get more traction on the topic if he got the NYPD under control. Many gun buyers are people who feel threatened with violent assault - and the NYPD is the leading perpetrator in his city.