I've met Michael Bloomberg exactly three times so I don't really know him and he doesn't know me.  But I have many friends who are his friends, truly are, and they are right now bristling with rumor and impression that the New York mayor might actually become a candidate for president.  He would be the richest person ever to have run for the office, with Ross Perot not even coming close.  Unlike Perot, Bloomberg is no crackpot but a sane and meticulous strategist, first for his company, latterly for the city of New York.  If he is now really thinking of the American presidency, you can be sure that he is not flattering himself or fantasizing but doing the pure arithmetic of politics, even more than the tacky arithmetic of the financial costs of politics.

My own suspicion is that the development that might catapult him into the race is if Hillary does well in Iowa and New Hampshire.  There would be so much depression among the Democrats and independents that he would be bound to reap a rich bounty.  An article in Monday's Times makes it clear that the legal obstacles to qualifying for an independent line are hardly insurmountable.  Of course, if Obama did well in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, Bloomberg would face a challenge of conscience that he wouldn't face with Mrs. Clinton: whether to run against the first African-American to have a chance at the White House.  Much as some feminists seem to assume, the prospect of a woman at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue does not carry the torch of liberty as does a person of African descent.  Particularly this woman who has been so compromised by her tacky husband and whose promises are latched to a degraded and covetous royal house, a Bonapartist line. Yuk.

My guess is that Bloomberg has disdain for John Edwards and his politics of resentment which has rarely done well for America.