WashPost Devotes Puff Piece to 'Data-Driven Despot' Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg is no liberal nanny-stater, he's really a benign "data-driven despot" who marches to the beat of a different drum.

That's the impression that Washington Post writer Jason Horowitz attempted to give readers in his 20-paragraph Style section puff piece in today's paper entitled, "In politics, Bloomberg is party of one."


"New York mayor has method of doing things his own way," added a subheader which brings to mind the hit song by Frank Sinatra. Of course, I don't think Ol' Blue Eyes would care much for the salt-grabbing, trans-fat banning, soda size-limiting liberal mayor.

Horowitz never once used the L-word to tag Bloomberg, although he noted the mayor's staunch pro-gun control positions which are cheered on by liberals. Indeed, from his lead paragraph, Horowitz sought to play down Bloomberg's liberalism by noting that he endorses moderately-conservative Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) over Brown's liberal anti-Wall Street populist Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren:

It may seem odd for New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to take the national lead in advocating for gun control one day, and endorse a National Rifle Association-approved Republican the next. But Bloomberg has his own method.

On Wednesday, just three days after Wade Michael Page killed six people at a Sikh temple, Bloomberg explained at a news conference why he supports Republican Sen. Scott Brown over gun-control advocate Elizabeth Warren (D) in the Senate race in Massachusetts — and it came down to their shared opposition to a specific concealed-weapons bill: “I asked him to stand up and go against his party,” Bloomberg said. “He is much more an advocate of the NRA than I am. . . . [But] Scott Brown did what we needed him to do, and for that reason I said I would support him.”

It’s all part of Bloomberg’s definition of political independence, which is shaped by his unusual status as a multibillionaire. Witness his contributions to the four (endangered) Republican state senators in New York who provided crucial support for same-sex marriage, which Bloomberg backed; or, for that matter, his subsidies to Republicans who let him run for reelection on their line, even after he abandoned the party.

Bloomberg in effect operates as his own party, rewarding principled acts of rebellion with his own considerable resources. For this Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, whose national policy pronouncements are usually pox-on-both-houses denunciations of Washington, overarching party goals are beside the point.

Yes, Bloomberg is fabulously wealthy and a veteran of Wall Street, as are many socially-liberal Democrats and Republicans. He may not have partisan axes to grind, but that doesn't mean he's not ideologically driven in a direction that aggrandizes the power of the state at the cost of individual liberty, which goes a long way in explaining why the mayor is not just anti-gun rights but anti-salt and anti-soda.

But when Horowitz recognizes the mayor's nanny-state tendencies, he fails to use derisive language, instead suggesting the mayor is well-intentioned and driven by science (emphasis mine):

Bloomberg is a data-driven despot who denounces soda, directs hospitals to hide infant formula because it could distract new mothers from breast-feeding, and defends Chick-fil-A and the so-called 9/11 mosque. In his mind, supporting a general opponent of gun control who came through for him on one critical measure is not inconsistent or hypocritical. It’s good business.

Data-driven or no, Bloomberg's abuse of governmental power to the end of hectoring people over their legitimate choices as individuals is still inimical to personal liberty. But to Horowitz, it's at best an endearing character flaw, given how much he annoys folks from both major parties.

Perhaps that's why Horowitz turned to a top Bloomberg lieutenant to close out the puff piece (emphasis mine):

“He is the only major political figure in America operating outside the two-party system and as a result, he sometimes makes decisions that partisans don’t understand,” said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, who fought for years in the Democratic trenches for Chuck Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Wolfson argued that although gun control is a critical issue for the mayor, he is not a single-issue advocacy group. He also cares deeply about immigration and public health and the financial sector — issues that at times put him in line with Democrats and then at others with Republicans.

Insisted Wolfson: “The independence is in service to accomplishments.”

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters