Bloomberg, Once a Tough Talker, Becomes a Pander Bear

Bu John Fund – National Review

e now know Michael Bloomberg is going to run for president. He’s turning himself into a pander bear.

During his three terms as New York City’s mayor, Bloomberg was famous for dismissing politically correct criticism and refusing to apologize for it.

But there he was on Sunday at an African-American megachurch in Brooklyn saying he was sorry for the stop-and-frisk policy he used so successfully to break the back of crime and reduce the murder rate in New York City by 50 percent.

Under stop-and-frisk, police officers were authorized to search people if they were suspected of illegal activity while carrying a weapon. Critics said the practice was disproportionately used against blacks and Hispanics. After Bloomberg left office in 2013, a judge ruled that the tactic had been used unconstitutionally. Bloomberg denounced the decision of Bill de Blasio, his successor as mayor, to dramatically reduce stop-and-frisk.

But on Sunday and six years after he left office, there was Bloomberg saying:

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Because of the number of stops of innocent people, because it had been so high, resentment had built up. We eroded what we had worked so hard to build: trust. Trust between police and communities, trust between you and me.

And the erosion of that trust bothered me deeply. And it still bothers me. And I want to earn it back. . . .

Bloomberg’s retreat is more than a complete reversal of his previous views, it’s an attempt to earn votes in the coming Democratic presidential primaries in which left-wing activists exercise disproportionate influence.

Indeed, one of those leading left-wing activists is cheering Bloomberg’s mea culpa. “Whatever his motive is, I’m glad that he’s taking this stand,” Al Sharpton told the Daily News on Sunday. “I think it is an important stance for a man who was a symbol of big-city stop-and-frisk.”

Sharpton has previously taken credit for getting both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to step away from their previous support for anti-crime measures. But he says speeches full of regret won’t be enough to assuage his concerns. All of the Democratic candidates are “going to have to earn that respect, have to earn that forgiveness,” he said.

From others, Bloomberg has earned nothing but scorn for his retreat. “The reign of race-based identity politics in the Democratic party may now be declared absolute,” Heather Mac Donald, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who often boosted Bloomberg, tells me, adding:

The Left has never shown that stop-and-frisk was racist; in fact, like other tactics in the police tool kit, it was directed through objective, color-blind data to where people were most being victimized. And such victimization occurs overwhelmingly in minority neighborhoods, driven by minority perpetrators.

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