Our Town downtown
March 19, 2007
I thought about Bloomberg twice on Thursday. A friend and I were e-mailing about various candidates and I said I liked Obama most right now but it was for purely charismatic reasons. I like him like I like Tiger Woods whatever that means about him—and me. I said I don’t dislike Hillary. I like her more than I like Bill, in fact. I’m their age and I can see him sucking up to every teacher he ever had and even those he didn’t have when he was in school and hanging around after class with them. Brown nose comes immediately to mind. I don’t see her that way. Edwards I loved the last time with his two Americas mantra. I even made phone calls for him in some union office here. His new guy-on-the-far-left pose though seems just that, a pose he practiced in the mirrors of his newly-built mansion. It’s too nakedly ambitious. His admitting he made a mistake in voting on Iraq is being seen, mostly by him, as some big act of courage. He’s saying it to get votes now that 2/3 of the country is against the war. Where’s the courage in that?
Then I said maybe Gore will trim his hair and his waistline and make a run. I even noticed that Bill Bradley has a book just out. He seems pretty good to me still. Finally I said that if Bloomberg ran he’d be the most competent among the lot of them. (Rudy is probably the closest in competence to the mayor. He’s hampered of course by some of his unsavory affiliations. All these guys know questionable types though. You think the people with three or four homes near the mountains and the beaches and the golf courses got them from selling Christmas trees or licking Green Stamps?)
That I think Bloomberg’s the most competent doesn’t mean I’d for sure make phone calls for him if he ran. I might though. Here’s why: He doesn’t seem a bit phony. Think of everyone in the list above except for Bill Bradley and there’s a phony component to them. They’ve been running for office for so long they’ve forgotten how to talk like real people. Mike doesn’t sound ultra-real himself, but that’s probably what he’s always sounded like. He seems cautious and shy and not in love with the sound of his own voice. That doesn’t mean he’s not ambitious or too rich. It just means he doesn’t sound phony and that’s refreshing. Even the way he’s not-running running doesn’t bug me because of his shy manner.
The second time I thought of him was later on Thursday night outside of a bar where I’d been having a couple pints, talking with a work mate, and occasionally looking up at the one small TV screen in the place to catch a glimpse of the college hoops scores. I’d gone outside in the cold drizzle to see if anyone was out there who I might bum a cigarette from. Like a leprechaun, a little young guy from Ireland sprang from nowhere it seemed and was handing me a half-empty gold pack of Benson & Hedges that I think he wanted me to notice because on the pack was a no-nonsense label that said ‘Smoking Kills’. I think he knew we’d ask where these were from. Ireland? England? His voice gave it away. Ireland it was. He was over with his girlfriend to show her the States and he was staying up in Woodlawn with some friends he’d met here before. He was so glad to talk to us outside. He said we were like meeting Bill Gates. He was funny. We smoked and went back in.
I looked at the pack of smokes with the label. There was another label on the back that said ‘Smoking is highly addictive, don’t start’. I thought of Bloomberg. He got the city to change its smoking ways. That was big in a town that too heartily identifies with Sinatra’s rendition of itself. The mayor did the right thing, though I whined like a lot of other people and thought he was a creep, out of touch with the real guys. He probably is out of touch in a lot of ways since he’s gathered so much stuff. But I hope he runs for president.
-- Bill Gunlocke