On the latest cover of The Atlantic, Mayor Michael Bloomberg looms large over (a model of) New York City; inside, he gets to sound off for a national audience about many of the things locals hear him say on a weekly basis. Among the issues he expounds upon and gripes about in the full interview: the soda ban, Wall Street, and the future of journalism — but not stop and frisk, Muslim surveillance, or anything too sticky. Where Bloomberg does go a little wild is in his assessment of Barack Obama’s presidency, declaring that the administration’s greatest accomplishment was “just getting elected.” What about the killing of Osama bin Laden, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson interjects. Nah, says Bloomberg.
Here’s his full, somewhat convoluted answer, from the transcript:
That’s like giving Harry Truman credit for dropping the bomb: any president would’ve pushed that button, any president would’ve dropped the bomb. Harry Truman stood up to Douglas MacArthur. An awful lot of people wouldn’t have done that. Harry Truman integrated the Army. A lot of people wouldn’t have done that. Harry Truman had the Marshall Plan — if in World War I we’d done that, we wouldn’t have had a World War II. But dropping the bomb, no, and I don’t think, in this case, Osama bin Laden — and incidentally, if you believe any of these stories or books, who knows what he did or didn’t do or was forced into. I mean, I don’t know. But I think that’s not — I don’t know that that’s fair. I don’t know that you can look — I mean, Hillary Clinton’s very competent — but there’s no Obama Doctrine that I know of. I don’t know that anybody has enunciated a worldview the way that Henry Kissinger did in his day, or George Shultz, or even [James] Baker. I have nothing but respect for Hillary, but I think the world today is run out of the White House rather than Foggy Bottom and places like that.
Surely there are countless historians and casual watchers of the world that would give Truman plenty of credit for opting to use a nuclear weapon, so that may not be the best analogy, although the bluster is quintessential Bloomberg.
And don’t expect him to listen to experts that might disagree: “That’s kind of small-minded,” Mark Bowden, author of The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden, told Capital New York. “Clearly the man in charge gets credit when things go well just as they get blamed when things go badly … Any fair-minded person, it seems to me, would give Obama credit for having handled this well.”