Now he tells us. According to Mayor Bloomberg, the "yelling and screaming" about the Ground Zero mosque is just "people trying to stir things up to get publicity and trying to polarize people so they can get some votes."
He said that on the Jon Stewart show, on Comedy Central. Maybe he was joking.
Or maybe he was teeing off on the unwashed masses before jetting off to join President Obama on the golf course. There's nothing like a round with an unpopular president deep in an election season to dispel suspicion that you're playing politics.
It's probably a coincidence that Obama and Bloomberg are among the few officials in America defending the mosque, just as they defended holding the 9/11 trial in lower Manhattan.
Both see themselves as citizens of the world who ascribe ugly motives to anybody who disagrees with them.
It's the "good to be king" syndrome and Bloomberg is no piker, as he showed in his first over-the-top mosque speech. With the Statue of Liberty helpfully framed behind him for TV cameras, he called the mosque a life-or-death test of religious freedom.
It is not, but mission accomplished. Liberals loved it -- Obama's State Department posted it on a website and The New York Times swooned.
New Yorkers and the rest of America, not so much. The speech turned a simmering location controversy into a holy war as the mayor tarred as bigots anybody who opposed the mosque or dared to question its $100 million financing.
In his second speech, to a Muslim group, he rejected all compromise and now takes to Comedy Central to find political motives running wild among opponents. It's a strange conclusion, given that two-thirds of the country wants the mosque to move, along with major Jewish, Catholic and even some Muslim groups. As ultra-lib Democrat Howard Dean said in defending his support for moving the mosque, "65 percent of the people in this country are not right-wing bigots."
Of course, Bloomberg allows himself an unlimited number of mulligans when it comes to his self-interest. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid favors moving the mosque, and his aides were frank in conceding that his re-election fight played a role.
That's the very definition of playing politics, but Reid is a very powerful man, and so Bloomberg is holding a fundraiser for him. It takes a politician to know one.
His personal website, mikebloomberg.com, is his trophy case for the mosque issue, featuring the text of his speeches. The home page includes the video of his appearance with Stewart, a glowing review of it and an image of Lady Liberty -- hardly standard fare for a mayor.
"What we know is that he's endlessly restless and wants to do something else," says a supporter who knows him well. "He's got a wandering eye and there's always an element of his national ambition in the way he does things."
The quest for a new job is facilitated by a handful of aides devoted to the goal. They pushed him to run for president in 2008 and he backed out only because his private polling told him he couldn't win, even if he spent $1 billion.
So he was stuck at City Hall, if he was lucky. He conspired with a supine City Council to change term limits and, after buying support or silence from many who might have objected, he narrowly won a third term last year.
Yet his wandering eye is already wandering. One insider predicts that, if the 2012 presidential race pits Obama vs. Sarah Palin, Bloomberg will jump in. Then there's talk Obama will dump Joe Biden, meaning a possible ticket spot for a billionaire golfing buddy who also thinks a mosque near Ground Zero is a great idea.
Politics? Round up the usual suspects.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor.To continue reading his column, click here.
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