Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blooming Possibilities

John Heilemann at New York magazine speculates on what could happen should New York mayor Michael Bloomberg decide to run for president in 2012 as an independent.

One scenario, most likely if the economy suffers a double-dip recession, is that the nation would be so desperate for capable economic management that Bloomberg would be able to overcome his vulnerabilities — his short-Jewish-unmarried-plutocratness — and find himself deposited in the Oval Office.

Another scenario, the likeliest, is that Bloomberg’s entry would secure the reelection of Obama. “There’s enough solid Republicans that even Palin gets between 26 and 30 percent of the vote,” forecasts [GOP strategist Matthew] Dowd. “And there’s enough solid Democrats that, depending on the economy, Obama gets 40 to 42 percent. That leaves Bloomberg with between 28 and 34 percent, which just isn’t enough.”

But there is a third scenario, one that involves a more granular kind of analysis-cum-speculation. By the accounts of strategists in both parties, Bloomberg — especially with the help of his billions — would stand a reasonable chance of carrying New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and California. Combine that with a strong-enough showing in a few other places in the industrial Northeast to deny Obama those states, and with Palin holding the fire-engine-red states of the South, and the president might find himself short of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win.

Assuming you still remember the basics from American Government 101, you know what would happen next: The election would be thrown to the House of Representatives — which, after November 2, is likely to be controlled by the Republicans. The result: Hello, President Palin!

I don’t buy the first scenario; Mr. Bloomberg epitomizes every negative stereotype that the GOP and the hate-mongers can muster, and in many ways he’s more liberal than Barack Obama.

As for the third scenario, that requires the convergence of a number of things, the main one being that when/if the GOP actually assumes control of a part of the government, i.e. the Congress, they actually do something besides scream “Hell no” and make an attempt to actually do the job they’re elected to do. But if we’ve had two years of Rand Paul, Ken Buck, and Sharron Angle holding forth on the floor of the Senate and any number of certifiable blithering idiots in the House such as Rep. Darrell Issa subpoenaing Malia Obama for scratching her nose during the playing of the national anthem, the American people will be so disgusted at the gridlock that Sarah Palin’s election loss to President Obama will make Barry Goldwater’s to LBJ in 1964 look like a squeaker.

And if, like some parallel universe episode of Star Trek, scenario #3 happens, it will be Mexico and Canada who will be securing their borders to stanch the flow of people fleeing to get out.