No one has ever accused Mike Bloomberg of being a shrinking violet.
It took no shortage of chutzpah to build a financial-information behemoth that has rewarded him with wealth that the Forbes list of world billionaires pegs at more than $35 billion.
And it took cojones of a certain size to ram legislation through the New York City Council that allowed him to seek a third term as mayor when the law said you only got two bites of the Big Apple.
Fellow billionaire Mark Cuban recognized that Bloomberg is a force to be reckoned with when he told the host of a New York radio show that hizzoner should run for president, but he wondered if his voice would be heard above the cacophonous din that is Election 2016.
"The question is going to be, is he too meek? And when I say meek, I mean just force of voice. You know, can he shout loud enough?" asked Cuban, whose bombast as owner of the Dallas Mavericks and as one of the panelists on the TV show Shark Tank is legendary.
But isn’t one of the cornerstones of Bloomberg’s appeal that he isn’t a screamer?
In the GOP primary circus, Ben Carson had a brief moment of sustained applause on the high wire. And what attracted attention to the good doctor, besides his positioning as a brilliant neurosurgeon running as a political outsider, was his Dalai Lama demeanor — a quiet intellect in a seething sea of insults and hyperbolic language.
Of course, Gentle Ben crashed to earth when it became painfully clear that he didn’t know diddley about foreign affairs, but he proved that a thoughtful approach can be the antidote to the shoot-from-the-lip bluster of Donald Trump or the smarmy game of gotcha that Ted Cruz likes to play.
Bloomberg is reasoned because he is basically a data guy. He is not going to shout and make wild claims or promises. He knows the numbers.
To an electorate both amused and shocked and now sort of weary of the Republican reality show, that could be refreshing.
But Bloomberg does seem to suffer from the same billionaire disease that afflicts Cuban and Trump: He lives in a bubble in which he is always right.
Denizens of rarified worlds tend to listen to each other or only themselves. Trump’s popularity may be attributable in part to the notion that he is expressing the anger of an America left out in the economic cold and beset on all sides by political correctness. But he’s not really listening to the people who flock to his rallies or those who nod their heads (whatever their political stripe) when he says George W. Bush took the country into a bloody quagmire in Iraq. He is tossing out red-meat lines because provocation underpins his candidacy.
But hey, Trump is a New York real estate guy. He’ll say anything to close the deal.
Bernie Sanders, the “democratic socialist” jolting the once-anointed candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton (another bubble candidate), also appeals to a fallen-behind America, among others, but he means what he says and has been preaching the same gospel for decades.
When in the last Democratic debate on Feb. 11 in Milwaukee, he attacked Clinton for consulting with former Henry Kissinger, he meant it when he called him “one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Kissinger."
That wasn’t meant to electrify those who remember the genocide in Cambodia. It was heartfelt outrage.
On an evening 10 days earlier, Kissinger was sighted having a tête-à-tête dinner at Le Périgord, a fancy French restaurant on Manhattan’s East Side. His sole dining companion was Mike Bloomberg.
On its face, that means nothing. But it highlights one of the perils Bloomberg would face if he does decide to run.
It’s not meekness or his decibel level that could trip him up. It’s the bubble.