John B. Anderson, the former Republican congressman from Illinois and 1980 Presidential candidate, said that his mind was “in a whirl,” late last week. Anderson, who now lives in Florida, was a Charlie Crist supporter, and, despite his long-standing disaffection toward the two-party system, he feels no affection for the ascendant Tea Party movement. “I break out in a cold sweat at the thought that any of those people might prevail,” he said. Nationally speaking, Anderson remains an Obama man—for now. “But I’m still fiercely independent, and believe that only an independent might take us to a higher plane,” he said.
On November 4th, Joe Trippi, the Democratic consultant and former campaign manager for Howard Dean, was “cruising down the beach,” as he put it, in Mexico, recuperating. “I would put the odds of an independent candidacy for President in 2012 or 2016 at probably sixty to seventy per cent,” he said. “People make the mistake of saying that this was a big Republican victory. They were the only other option. The question is: Who? It’s not going to be like Ross Perot coming from out of nowhere.” He added, “The White House seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time with Bloomberg, keeping him close.”
So, that again: the maddeningly perennial game of speculating about the next move of New York’s mayor. Last month, the CNBC host Larry Kudlow announced on his show that, according to a “serious insider,” Michael Bloomberg would be the next Treasury Secretary. “The deal has been done,” Kudlow reported, perhaps prematurely. Then, the week before the election, Bloomberg’s grander ambitions were publicly revived by New York’s John Heilemann, in a cover story titled “2012: How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President.” The scenario, in short: Amid ongoing polarization and a stalled economic recovery, Bloomberg declares his candidacy, wins a handful of coastal states, thereby denying Obama the requisite electoral votes, and the Republican House awards the office to Palin.
Speaking at Harvard, the day before the election, Bloomberg said, “I think, actually, a third-party candidate could run the government easier than a partisan political President,” and then he went on, as he always does, to deny that he intends to pursue the position. He is, as he is fond of saying, Jewish, unmarried, pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-immigrant, and pro-gay-marriage. Add to that a strong allegiance to Wall Street, a weekend house in Bermuda, and his vehemence, last summer, in defense of the mosque near Ground Zero, and it’s hard to see how he plays to the populist moment. A recent Marist poll indicates that only twenty-six per cent of New Yorkers favor the prospect of his running.
Yet the dream persists. “I think it’s a strong possibility,” Clay Mulford, the chief operating officer of the National Math and Science Initiative, and, as it happens, Perot’s son-in-law, said the other day. “The mood of the country is not ideological but more practical. The timing is unusually right.” Mulford mentioned that a Google search of his name and Bloomberg’s would reveal that the two of them met, a couple of years ago, to discuss ballot logistics. “His people put the story out,” Mulford said. Continue reading…