Mike Bloomberg: “Write About How McCain and Obama are (or aren’t) Going to Deal With Congress”


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“Hi, I’m Mike Bloomberg” said Mike Bloomberg as I stood next to him and another chap at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart” fundraising benefit last night. The Mozart performance was accompanied by some ‘melancholy Mahler’, and the evening was terrific.
During the dinner, I sat next to one of the co-founders of C-Span, John Evans, as well as telecom and media dealmaker (and Obama economic advisor) Leo Hindery and also a person who previously served as Deputy Director for Intelligence at the CIA and is now into “sovereign risk analysis” for one of the big financial houses. We were all the guests of Rita and Gustave Hauser — and we discussed Obama, the war, poetry, Mahler’s melancholy, former Governor Cuomo who was also there, and which CIA notables were decent and which made up stories out of “whole cloth”. It was a fantastic evening.
But back to Bloomberg. He said hello, which I hoped he might. I told him I was a think tank guy in Washington at the New America Foundation which now had Eric Schmidt of Google as its chair and Steve Coll of the New Yorker as its President. This was friendly name-dropping designed to let him know that we had a decent footprint. I didn’t overdo it. Nonetheless, Bloomberg wryly said “great” and proceeded on with the other conversation he was having.
Then I said, “I also write the blog, The Washington Note and have written quit a lot about why the pragmatic center in American politics needs people like you [Bloomberg], Hagel, and others going after the top jobs.” I said that I was impressed with what his communications director Kevin Sheekey had pulled off in terms of the “possibility of a Bloomberg run.” Bloomberg said, “Even Sheekey couldn’t take all the heat and speculation any more so he’s left town for a week. Vacation.”
And then Bloomberg, who seemed to know The Washington Note more than the New America Foundation said, “Steve, you want me to tell you what you should write about?” Sure, of course, I nodded, sort of stumbling in a kind of affirmative way. . .
“You need to write about how these guys [McCain and Obama] are going to work with Congress. Who cares if they say they are going to sign this or promise that?! Congress authorizes and funds — and without Congress, their grand plans are nothing. Nothing! How are they going to work with them? No one is drilling into the reality that it’s Congress in the end that makes this stuff happen — and you need to write about this.”
So I will. It’s an important point because if Obama wins, he’ll still need Republican votes to move things — and on economic policy and on national security strategy, the Dems are seriously divided.
Bloomberg was fun to watch at this dinner of New York heavyweights. He knows he’s a rock star and he wears a bit of New York style arrogance because it’s expected — but when one watches how he works a room and interacts with people, there’s far more humility in his manner than I expected. He listens too. Surprised me. And he makes his engagement with people matter if they are able to get by the friendly but perfunctory “Hi, I’m Mike Bloomberg.”
I was quite impressed with him I must admit.
There’s no chance that Obama will take him as a VP — but having someone with the executive skills of a Bloomberg is one of the other game-changing and game-winning choices Obama could have made. I know he won’t — and I expect a flood of catcalls in response to this, but I do think that America needs problem solvers in federal office today like Bloomberg.
Tom Daschle is a problem solver, pragmatic. So is Chuck Hagel. I also like Biden. Tim Kaine ‘seems’ like the kind of solutions oriented doer I prefer; I just wish we had more time on the clock with him to see other problems he had solved. I know Birch Bayh is a doer — but that’s the dad.
The son — the incumbent Senator Evan — just doesn’t have the sizzle or the record of execution that others on this list have. Birch Bayh got two amendments to the Constitution passed — and nearly passed the Equal Rights Amendment. He’s now living out on the Eastern Shore of Maryland working hard on getting states to reform voting rights — ultimately designed to do away with the electoral college. But I don’t think Evan Bayh is involved in any of the interesting, public-minded efforts that the mythical Birch Bayh is undertaking.
More later on this — but wanted to report on Mozart’s night at Lincoln Center and Bloomberg’s call for more journalists and bloggers to think through the Congressional dimensions of the next presidential game plan.
— Steve Clemons


7 comments on “Mike Bloomberg: “Write About How McCain and Obama are (or aren’t) Going to Deal With Congress”

  1. Flug says:

    Arnold Schwarzenegger is still the best!


  2. Steve Clemons says:

    WigWag — One and the same person I am sure. That’s why I
    like her so much. I don’t believe in zero sum game approaches
    to the Middle East and I don’t think Israeli security or Arab
    prosperity can be achieved without a bridge that links the
    interests of both sides. Rita Hauser is the perfect bridge
    between Arab and Israeli interests. She is a realist who
    embraces the significance and importance of international
    institutions. She is a Republican who sees why Obama may be
    the better choice right now. She’s a pragmatic centrist — like
    Thanks for the material and information — but I think it’s really
    demonstrated why we need many, many, many more people like
    Rita Hauser and just not thinly defined political players who run
    only to extremes.
    All the best,


  3. WigWag says:

    We were all the guests of Rita and Gustave Hauser”
    Steve, which Rita Hauser would that be? Would it be the Rita Hauser who was a close personal friend of Edward Said or would it be the Rita Hauser who maxed out on contributions to George W. Bush both times he ran (along with her husband)?
    Would it be the Rita Hauser who helped endow a chair for Rashid Khalidi at Columbia University or the Rita Hauser who contributed $20,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2001?
    Is it the Rita Hauser who contributed $3,500 to the progressive PAC, Campaign America, or the Rita Hauser who made a habit of contributing to Republicans including John Isacson, Charles Millard, Chuck Hagel, John Warner, Lamar Alexander, Pete Wilson, John McCain and Mitch McConnell?
    Was it Rita Hauser, the peace activist, who sits on the Board of Human Rights Watch and Chairs the International Peace Academy or the Rita Hauser who was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board?
    Was it the now retired Rita Hauser, whose law firm Stook, Strook and Levan, was a registered lobbyist for the Palestinian Authority and the Saudi governmnet or the Rita Hauer who serves on an Advisory Committee for the American Jewish Committee?
    Or are both of these Rita Hauser’s the same person? As they use to say on the game show, To Tell the Truth, “will the real Rita Hauser, please stand up?”
    Anyone who is interested in this strange but philanthropic New York power couple can go to the opensecrets website and look at Rita and Gustave’s campaign contributions. Anyone interested in seeing the causes funded by their Foundation can go to http://www.guidestar.com to look at the IRS 990 that their Foundation is required to file. It is chock full of information.
    This couple may be wealthy and they may be prominent. But their politics are bizarre.
    They don’t seem to believe in anything. No, check that, they seem to believe in everything.
    I am sure it was a great party!


  4. Kathleen says:

    Work??? Since when is rubber-stamping, caving and folding work?


  5. DC Exile says:

    Work with Congress? Get them to fund things?
    Follow the Bush model; Pelosi, Reid and the rest roll-over for him on all the things that matter. He’s got the magic even at 28% approval.


  6. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    I know it is OT but how did someone like Birch Bayh ever get elected from Indiana? It was thought to be pretty deep red until earlier this year. It’s pretty hard to believe that the apple fell so far from the tree.
    I admit that Bloomberg is right. What Bloomberg won’t say and what is true is well is that Mitch McConell and the Republicans block just about every damn thing in the Senate. They’ve broken the record for filibusters by far and there is still time left in this session. Part of the fault is Reid’s because he won’t make them actually filibuster. It’s pretty easy block everything when you don’t pay a price for it.


  7. Steve Hunt says:

    How ’bout they pass something that says anyone who works for a think tank or is a lobbyist has to be as accountable to people as you Mr. Clemons! I think the world would be a better place pretty quick.


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