Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bloomberg Becomes Independent, in California

The Los Angeles Times, in the era of the buyout and Chicago control, with two Easterners at the helm, is not surprisingly oblivious to California history. That is demonstrated again this morning with the paper's report of the decision by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to leave the Republican party, possibly setting the stage for an independent campaign for the Presidency in 2008.

Bloomberg's decision was announced during a California political tour. The Times runs a picture of him this morning arm in arm with Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The L.A. Times plays the story on Page 12 below the fold, while the New York Times plays it as the off lead on Page 1. Well, that may be natural, because, after all, Bloomberg is the mayor of New York.

But what neither paper mentioned is that it is very natural that a third party, independent candidacy be floated in California.

The last time there was such a candidacy with a chance to win the Presidency was in 1912 and in that year Theodore Roosevelt, running on the "Bull Moose" ticket, actually carried California, and his vice presidential running mate was the then Republican governor of California, Hiram Johnson.

So it is natural that anyone thinking of an independent candidacy would high tail it to non traditionalist California. Even George Wallace did that in the fall of 1967, when he conducted a month-long campaign to get onto the California ballot with his independent candidacy in 1968.

And you would think that L.A. Times political writers Michael Finnegan and Evan Halper would certainly have mentioned that history in their story this morning.

But they don't. I wonder whether they knew those facts, and didn't bother to explain Bloomberg's trip out here on this politically momentous occasion as being in context with American third party and California history, or whether they (or their editors) had forgotten that history, or never knew it.

We know for one thing that Chicago toadying publisher David Hiller and edtor James O'Shea don't know much about California. I wonder if they are forcing their ignorance and obliviousness on their political writers.

In any case, Bloomberg's trip out here over several days got precious little attention in the L.A. Times. Yet, there can be little question that Bloomberg's record would make him one of the most substantive figures in the race, if he does decide to get in.

Independent candidacies in the U.S. have generally not fared too well, particularly at the end of the election cycle. But given the national angst these days, I wonder whether 2008 might prove the exception.

And if there is to be an exception, why should it not start in California, which until 1912 had never voted differently from the way the nation had voted for President?

A peculiarity of both the New York Times and L.A. Times stories this morning is that neither made any mention of what Bloomberg's views are on the Iraq war.

--

The peccadilloes of the Los Angeles city attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, never cease. This morning, following a string of revelations in the L.A. Times, it's revealed in a front page story by Matt Lait that Delgadillo's wife Michelle actually has an outstanding arrest warrant and has since 1998 for failing to appear in court to answer charges of driving without insurance, with a suspended license and in an unregistered car.

In a column I imagine he meant to be helpful, the Times' Steve Lopez suggests he would be willing to take Michelle to jail, so she could serve her time with Paris Hilton. Steve has always had a big heart.

Howard Baker's old question in the Watergate affair could be used here in paraphrased form: What did Delgadillo know and when did he know it?

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