Whereas Ross Perot was a fairly legitimate presidential candidate in the 1992 election (not so much in 1996) with decent polling numbers and nearly 20 million votes, it’s debatable whether or not he was a true spoiler who ruined it for President George H.W. Bush, although many believe he was precisely that. Recall that President Bill Clinton won by plurality (but with wide Electoral College margins) in both elections and did not receive a majority vote in either.

At any rate, Perot seemed to offer a legitimate conservative alternative for those wanting a fresh look at things and who were tired of the usual politics in 1992 and Bush 41’s wishy-washy stance on tax increases and other issues.

Now that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering running as an independent candidate, the big question is just what does he hope to accomplish? Because he has about zero chance of getting elected — and surely he must realize that.

Bloomberg, a social moderate to progressive (pro choice, tighter gun control, immigration reform) and more fiscally conservative, may have a specific ulterior motive in mind by entering the race, although by doing so could set into motion the law of unintended consequences.

Although I’m just a rank amateur observer who gets to write a newspaper column, I will take the liberty of speculating that the mayor is mortified by Donald Trump’s angry rhetoric and megalomaniacal personality and extremely concerned at the notion of such a character being awarded the power of the presidency. He’s considering jumping in to try and see to it that Trump’s efforts are thwarted and can spend whatever it takes out of his own personal fortune to accomplish that end. (If Trump is “really rich,” Bloomberg is really, really, really rich, so money is not a problem.)

But as Trump has astutely observed, he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” There’s no question that Trump supporters are a loyal lot, and there’s probably a reasonable degree of certainty that his support is here to stay, and might continue growing. And if that’s the case, Bloomberg could end up siphoning off votes from Hillary and only strengthen Trump’s position! Wouldn’t that be something? So if you’re a Trump supporter this might be a good thing.

Or not. We’ll start finding out pretty soon. In an age when the country is more divided and polarized since I don’t know when, a somewhat middle of the road third party candidate such as Bloomberg has no chance of getting elected, but he could seriously injure one of the other major candidates. In this case, the mayor hopes it will be Mr. Trump — but it might be Secretary Clinton.


Former Post and Courier reporter Chris Sosnowski noticed my column about some family land we have on Johns Island, right across the crick from Sosnowski’s ancestral barony, Bugby Plantation. In it I mentioned that turkeys have made a surprising reappearance.

“On behalf of my family,” he writes (in part), “I’d like to take at least partial credit for the turkeys you see, as we participated in a SCDNR project years ago to reintroduce the species to the area. My late father (MUSC OBGYN Professor and Vice Dean Dr. John Richard Sosnowski) said he’d never seen turkeys on Bugby during his lifetime, and wanted to leave something behind.

“You may be interested to know that part of the deal was that we not hunt our new turkeys for ten years. Meanwhile, some apparently flew across the creek to the Johns Island side!”


Speaking of MUSC, retired neuroanatomy professor Hilda Debacker, Ph.D., now 92, is obviously sharp as ever. She had a great career with only one blot on her record — having me as a student. Her native language is Romanian but she grew up speaking French and German and later became fluent in English. I was astounded and delighted to receive the following from her the other day:

“Hi Dr. Gilbreth: I am indulging my pet peeve today.

“It is bad enough that people cannot speak English when it is their only language they ‘presumably’ speak, but it is even worse when the people who make up crossword puzzles are guilty of the same thing. I cannot understand why people cannot keep ‘lie,’ ‘lay,’ ‘lain’ and ‘laid’ straight. In today’s puzzle, in 41 across, it asks for ‘reclines’ and expects ‘lays’ instead of ‘lies.’

“I hope you will say something about this!”

I certainly will — that I can’t keep those words straight myself and am just as dumb as the crossword writers. I’m pretty good as James Island Geechee, though, but am still learning English.

You’re amazing, Dr. Debacker!

Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.