The news of NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg's triumph today over the liberal judge who outlawed his stop-and-frisk program reminds me that Michael Bloomberg is a man you want to have on your side, not on somebody else's side.
Moreover, Bloomberg strikes me as a man of fundamentally conservative personality, in the sense of having tendencies toward a natural array of loyalties.
As I've argued before:
What Haidt never quite gets across is that conservatives typically define their groups concentrically, moving from their families outward to their communities, classes, religions, nations, and so forth. If Mars attacked, conservatives would be reflexively Earthist. As Ronald Reagan pointed out to the UN in 1987, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” (Libertarians would wait to see if the Martian invaders were free marketeers.)
In contrast, modern liberals’ defining trait is making a public spectacle of how their loyalties leapfrog over some unworthy folks relatively close to them in favor of other people they barely know (or in the case of profoundly liberal sci-fi movies such as Avatar, other 10-foot-tall blue space creatures they barely know).
Bloomberg and, for that matter, Larry Summers strike me as men who by temperament are essentially concentric (and thus conservative) in their loyalties. Of course, this leaves open the question of for whose benefit, precisely, these loyalist urges will be exerted. I favor using carrots of public praise and sticks of public criticism to incline powerful men toward backing the interests of their fellow American citizens over the other interest groups clamoring for their support.
Of course, Bloomberg has a lot of options in life about whose side to be on. For example, he is accepting a Russian oligarch-funded "Jewish Nobel Prize" from Bibi Netanyahu.
I poked around on the Internet and found a lot of jokes about why does Bloomberg, who has $30 billion, need a $1 million prize? (He's giving it to charity.)
I didn't find much at all asking any questions about what this says about Bloomberg's loyalties, just as I didn't find much praising Summers for turning down Netanyahu's offer of the Israeli equivalent of Chairmanship of the Fed. (Summers didn't offer an explanation, so we can only hope that loyalty to his native country played a role.)
My view is that publicly critiquing powerful individual's loyalties is a natural tool for nudging those power players toward backing the interests of you and yours. It is on the whole a good thing keep a man who controls a "private army" of 44,000 uniformed police officers, a media empire, and whose employees spy on customers of Bloomberg terminals, worried about his reputation.
Apparently, however, that kind of criticism of the rich and powerful is just not done anymore. It gets you denounced for mentioning "the dual loyalty slander."
My impression, however, is that for anybody who is as much "in the arena" as Michael Bloomberg, restrictions on expressing skepticism about him are pernicious. In general, the more people don't want you to talk about something, the more it needs talking about.
But, that kind of moderation is considered these days to be almost unthinkable.