Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wayne Barrett: Bloomie, Sonia, and Barry -- A Tale of Influence? - Village Voice - New York - Runnin' Scared -

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OK, say you're on an early May visit in the Oval Office with the new president. Say you didn't support the man in 2008, won't answer press questions about who you did vote for, and are reported to have quietly told Republican leaders back home that you backed John McCain. Say you're not a lawyer and your only appearances in court have occurred as a witness in sexual harassment cases.

The first thing you'd do when you get a private moment with the president as the two of you move toward the door after the meeting, at least if you're Mike Bloomberg, would be to tell Barack Obama, who happens to be a constitutional scholar, who he should appoint to the Supreme Court, right? Especially if you're chasing New York's vast, swing, Latino vote in the upcoming mayoral election and your candidate for the court, coincidentally, is Sonia Sotomayor.

What's the Spanish word for chutzpah?

To make sure everyone knows who to credit when the nomination actually occurs a few weeks later, you immediately rush to the city's Hispanic daily, El Diario, and tell them all about your Supremely Self-serving recommendation to the president. Not only does the paper run a
story then, but when Sotomayor is named by the president, you dip into your bottomless till and buy a full-page ad in yesterday's El Diario with a giant picture of Sotomayor and a small headshot of the beaming mayor, tying the package together.

The statement on Bloomberg's website yesterday that he "took the opportunity" to tell Obama that Sotomayor would be "an outstanding choice" left open the question of how the subject came up. I called Stu Loeser to ask him, just to make sure that Obama hadn't actually sought the mayor's views on a judge from his city. "As they walked out," said Loeser, the mayor and the president were exchanging how-you-doing chitchat and Bloomberg said, "I know this is your call to make," but "people whose legal opinion I greatly respect speak very highly of her." Isn't that hearsay?

Is there anything the mayor won't milk? Did he do half a week of photo ops on the Terrorist-Gang-That-Couldn't-Buy-A-Gun-That-Shot-Straight?

The mayor used to imply that he supported George Bush so he could talk to him about things that would be good for the city. Apparently he thinks Obama is such a chump he can get what he wants from him -- photo-ops, glomming on to a Supreme Court nominee -- without supporting him.