Part 1 of 2: Mayor Mike Bloomberg at Cooper Union


Usually I have my laptop with me at major events, but I was revising my operating system at the time – and had to go with the old reliable pen and paper. So, my live-blogging was more in line with reporting than typical blogging. I will do my best to capture what happened last night at the Great Hall at Cooper Union and to capture the heart of what Mayor Bloomberg said.

Quick summary: I expect a February Surprise from Mr. Mayor. And a very pleasant one at that.

After the break, TB: Tom Brokaw’s questions, MB: my parsing of Mayor Bloomberg’s answers.

Tom Brokaw introed the event with an accounting of the topics they would discuss in the hour long interview – including healthcare, the environment and the Iraq War. In addition, Mr. Brokaw loved to pull the “are you running” question whenever possible, and Mr. Mayor had some intriguing ways of responding.

TB: So – you have not said yes or no yet. What is your answer?
MB: I can give you the answer I have given in the past – why would I want to give up my life as a billionaire heterosexual in this city?

TB: If you were the president of Columbia University, would you have let the President of Iran speak?
MB: He spoke on the fact that in America, we are blessed with the freedom of speech, and the Deans of the college invited Ahmadinejad to speak, not the president. And giving the opportunity to hear him speak is a right of all Americans – even when we do not want to hear what they have to say.

He also spoke of ensuring that, even when official channels are closed, there is an incredible importance on the lower level channels still speaking (simple network theory) to ensure that there is some form of communication allowing for an understanding, even when things are not “right” on the visible front.

TB: So then why not allow Ahmadinejad to visit Ground Zero?
MB: Simply because his points of view are too incendiary and Ground Zero has too much symbolism for the terrorists in the world. These terrorists who found our freedoms so abhorant that they caused 9/11 – why should this be celebrated in such a fashion?

TB: Is NYC more secure now?
MB: We will never know – we are more prepared, better trained, likelihood is less – but it still could happen.

TB: Is Rudy Guilani exploiting his part in 9/11?
MB: You know, this year, I invited Rudy, Pataki, Corizine, Spitzer and all were there – not for the politics, but for the moment. Even HRC was there – to show her support – not for political reasons. Rudy was the mayor at the time of 9/11. That is the fact.

TB: How do you see the race for the Presidency shaping up?
MB: Sick of the 30 sec answer – how could you understand a person if you only get their soundbites or video plays? Why doesn’t the press follow through with the tough questions? Because we “the people” do not ask for it right now. We are often fond of selecting the person we “trust”. That is the way to choose a banker, not a President.

We need to put the role of President in the right context. We have lost numerous relationships in the world. We are considered overly arrogant – very few real friends in the world due to this President. We should never be ashamed of who and what we are – but we need to be respected too.

TB: So, what should the next President do?
MB: Iraq – no good choices there on what we will do. We need to rebuild relationships – and can not go it alone. He has not idea why we actually did go it alone.

[Ed Note: person opinion – because of the oil and the debts from the Iraq government to other countries. Once the government went “bankrupt”, the US could effectively “pick up” Iraq for a “song” and reap the profits. France – for example – lost an incredible amount of money once the Iraq government folded.]

On domestic issues – we need to focus on the environment and healthcare. He is frustrated with the proposals from the candidates in healthcare. In Western Europe, they pay much more in taxes, less than $3K per capita in healthcare – and have a likelihood of living longer. No one is making the hard decisions!

TB: But what about HRC, Obama and Edwards?
MB: The plans they offer do not work. They make companies pay. But how many people do not work for companies in American today? How do you handle those people?

In NYC – when you go to the hospital, the NYC tax payers pay the bill.
With HRC’s plan, I agree with some of it. Mitt Romney – he seems to be the only one of the people int he race who has actually implemented a healthcare plan. Go see how Massachusetts has done after his work.

TB: So you think single payer is not the answer?
MB: The challenge with this is that in answering the question – we face the problem of partisan politics. If you are a Democrat, you can not be too progressive, too anti-Iraq, too lefty for the left-leaning, bloggers and such. If you are a Republican, you have to be able cutting taxes and other right-wing issues to get through the primaries. That is not a way to learn about the central issues at hand.

TB: If you were POTUS, would you be threatening Iran now?
MB: I would never threaten anyone, unless I have a Plan B – because the plan might have to be implemented. We can not pull out of Iraq quickly – there would be massacres, it would embolden the terrorists, destabilize the region – there are no easy answers. We need to get the Iraqis to live in peace and away from outside influences.

TB: Newt Gingrich says that the Republicans have a terrible handicap: GWB in the White House. What do you think? Does he have a Plan B?
MB: You will need to ask President Bush. We are on top of an international situation that has over 100 of our boys dying to maintain our freedoms we have here today. While GWB is the President, it was Congress who voted for the war.

TB: Do you think President Bush failed to ask the country for their support?
MB: (I lost the opening) But during Vietnam, we blamed the boys who went over there. This time, we have to blame the decision makers, not the men who served our country with honor.

(will continue in Part 2)

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