The Bloomberg Implosion

I didn’t expect that Mike Bloomberg would win America’s love with his charm, since he doesn’t have any, but I didn’t expect him to go down in flames quite as badly as he did last night. Perhaps I should have. The Bloomberg on the stage last night was pretty much the Bloomberg I remember as el alcalde de Nueva York. (If you didn’t watch the debate, Laura Quint provides a blow-by-blow account that’s worth reading.)

I think it’s stretching the truth a bit to say that Bloomberg was ever “popular” in New York. His approval ratings most of the time were better than his two predecessors, Rudy Giuliani and David Dinkins. But that’s setting a low bar. Giuliani in particular had just plain exhausted the city with his issues and his antics until the September 11 attacks allowed him to exit in a state of grace. But Bloomberg became mayor and stayed mayor for three terms mostly because he bought himself a whole lot of influence, and there were no strong election challengers to topple him. White voters, at least, liked him okay, stop and frisk notwithstanding. Police brutality toward racial minorities was hardly a new thing in New York City. But I never sensed a deep pool of affection for Mayor Bloomberg even in New Yorkers who thought he was a good enough mayor.

Still, one would have thought he would have known to smile or try to fake a personality. The small man people saw in Las Vegas was a cold, humorless mashup of Lex Luthor and early Scrooge McDuck. Even worse for Bloomberg, last night’s debate drew record viewership. He would have been better off avoiding the debates entirely. I wonder if he’ll show up for the next one.

Charles Pierce:

I mean, Jesus H. Christ on a Peloton, Mike Bloomberg got elected mayor of New York. Twice. He even finagled the rules to get elected a third time. And, you know, being elected mayor of New York is a bigger deal than being elected mayor of, oh, I dunno, let’s pick a place. OK, South Bend, Indiana. So I have to ask people from New York this question: was he always this bad a candidate?

Mother Mary, the man looked like he’d rather be anywhere else than on that debate stage in Las Vegas, being eviscerated by these members of the peasant class. It began when Senator Professor Warren—who far and away had the best night up there, no matter how painful that is to certain members of the pundit class whose names rhyme with Fryin’ Billiams and Stare McLaskell—pounded him on the very first question of the debate by throwing back at Bloomberg some of his own intemperate remarks about women, at which point he looked, as Abraham Lincoln said of William Rosecrans after Chickamauga, like a duck that had been hit on the head.

Was he always that bad a candidate? I have to say, yes. It was kind of a fluke that he got elected the first time, but after that he owned enough of the town and its influencers that he didn’t have to work that hard to keep the job. But yesterday he had to step outside his influence bubble and expose himself to normal people, and he wasn’t prepared for it. It was stunning how much he wasn’t prepared for it.

Matt Taibbi:

What a catastrophe Wednesday night was for Mike Bloomberg. The New York plutocrat was kicked in the teeth by Elizabeth Warren in the first minutes — she denounced him as a Trump-like “arrogant billionaire” who called women “horse-faced lesbians” — and never made it back to his feet.

Bloomberg stood in mute fury as his $400 million campaign investment went up in smoke. His contempt for democracy and sense of entitlement surpass even Donald Trump, who at least likes crowds — Bloomberg’s joyless imperiousness makes Trump seem like Robin Williams.

Taibbi goes on to document the many political and media elites who had touted his candidacy and how much money they or their organizations had received from Bloomberg. Do read it the entire column.

The night belonged to Liz Warren more than anyone else. And it breaks my heart she isn’t the front runner right now. Over the past few months I have been told, many times, that Warren can’t win or that Warren couldn’t stand up to Trump in a one on one debate.  I never bought into that belief, but it was hard to argue against it. I had nothing but my own gut feeling saying it was wrong.

But after last night, we know for a fact that Warren would be brilliant one on one against Trump. In fact, I believe she’d be the sharpest adversary against Trump we could nominate. As much as I like Bernie, I don’t see him eviscerating Trump as expertly as Warren gutted Bloomberg last night.

Greg Sargent:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s breakout debate performance in Las Vegas on Wednesday night is drawing wide acclaim for her brutal dismantling of Mike Bloomberg, who appeared shaky and unprepared. By repeatedly savaging one “arrogant billionaire,” as Warren put it, she induced many to envision her woman-handling the other “arrogant billionaire,” the one tweeting maniacally from the White House.

Most people ranking winners and losers are giving strong marks to both Sanders and Warren. Most of the rest of the night was taken up by squabbling between Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, who clearly can’t stand each other, with the occasional forgettable interjection from Joe Biden. It may be that the flirtation with Buttigieg and Klobuchar as the possible “moderate” saviors who might unify the party and take the nomination away from front-runner Sanders will cool off a bit now. I don’t see that happening. But a lot will depend on the results in Nevada and South Carolina.

15 thoughts on “The Bloomberg Implosion

  1. I don't know the new DNC process well. Superdelegates won't be able to vote in the first round. If Sanders has a majority in the first round, (1991 delegates) he's it. Otherwise, Bloomberg is reportedly already in contact to purchase – did I use that word?-  negotiating for in good faith and compliance with the law the votes that are up for auction. 

    I'm not sure how/if a losing candidate can align with a former rival and assign his delegates or if it's entirely up to delegates beyond the first round. If Warren is in the second or third place, she can be the kingmaker. It won't be Bloomberg that Liz would crown. If anyone understands the rules beyond the first round, that may be critical.

  2. Gonna be interesting how things shake out from here. I like Amy K but her star isn't as brilliant as Liz Warren's. I would bet that Joe Biden and probably Mayor Pete are near the end of their runs. I wish Warren and Sanders could make some kind of deal, so that the left can be unified. Thanks for your take on Bloomberg, someone who knows him way better than me.

  3. "Do we want to trade one arrogant billionaire for another?"

     Kudos to Warren. She kinda sums it up. From what I saw, Biden seemed almost irrelevant except for the one time he buttressed the criticisms of Bloomberg's stop and frisk policies by saying that it was not just something that could be dismissed with a simple apology for a policy gone awry. It was a grievous wound on the fabric of American society, and if Bloomberg couldn't see the damage it would do from the get go then maybe there is something missing in his understanding of what it means to be an American. There is no better way to say you're not one of us than to stop and frisk someone based solely the color of their skin or their appearance. Biden's statement fully supported Warren's use of the word arrogant to describe Bloomberg.

  4. Perhaps no one can say who can and cannot beat Trump, but the non-Sanders candidates never mentioned that he had much praise for the Soviet Union and its system of government when he was there in 1988. Trump will not even need to lie if Sanders is the nominee; he will only have to play the clips of his kind words for Soviet bread lines and Soviet medical care and Sanders will be toast. They will only need to play his lines from last night's debate about fracking in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Trump keeps those two states in his column. 

    In 1972 Nixon was unpopular, the war in Vietnam was unpopular, and the economy was not doing nearly as well as the US economy is doing today. How did the Democrats manage to lose 49 states? Well, they managed it. The 1972 election was theirs to lose, and they lost it. They may not lose 49 states in 2020 with Sanders, but they risk an electoral landslide and possibly Trump winning the popular vote. This is an unacceptable risk which does not need to be taken. Why did the other candidates not point this out last night? Were they afraid of his followers? What is going on with the Dems, that they seem prepared to and drop the ball when it must not, must not be dropped? 


    • Bernie: I have discussed ad nauseum why the old screams of “socialism” no longer have the bite they had when most of us were younger, and I’m tired of addressing it. So let’s drop it, now. I prefer Warren, in part because I believe she’d be a safer candidate in the general, but Warren and Sanders are the only ones remaining I can fully support as the nominee. That’s not to say I won’t vote for whomever the Dems nominate in the general, but I fear if it’s not Warren or Sanders the Dems will be in big trouble long term, even if they beat Trump in November.

      • My primary is coming up. I can’t decide between Joe, Bernie, and Liz. My number one issue is beating Trump. Number two is capturing the House and Senate. Number three is climate. Number 4 is jail the entire Trump mob. Can’t decide. Biden probably has the best odds in the general…… thoughts, people????

        • Tom, I voted for Warren on my Florida primary mail in ballot.  My reasoning was que sera, sera. I believe that beating Trump won't take place in a one on one basis where he's faced off with a particular candidate. I think the contest for the presidency is already happening in the spiritual realm where values rather than issues are going to be the determining factor. I also feel that a woman  with the qualities of empathy and compassion as displayed by Warren would act as a powerful counter measure to the divisiveness and hatred put forth by Trump.

           It's an emotional decision on my part because it's her heart that I'm hearing and believing..and I believe she's smart enough to recognize the right people to put in place to carry out the vision she has for America. I think she can lead us out of the swamp that we are now in.

      • What matters is whether Sanders can beat Trump in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan , Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona. 

        I agree that the "socialist" label has the bite it had in 1972. I am not saying that Sanders will lose 49 states, only that he will not be able to deliver the crushing defeat that will be needed to annihilate the Republican party at the polls, win the White House in a landslide, take back the Senate while keeping the House, and send the Republican party the way of the Whigs. 

        Today Bernie was asked about the release of the news about Russian support for his candidacy, and expressed irritation at the Washington Post for having reported something he has known for a month but kept silent about. The WaPo makes this public the day before the NV caucus, and he makes an angry gesture while walking away saying, "Washington Post? Good friends!"

        It is not the job of the WaPo or any other news medium to be "friends" with him or with any other politician.  Sanders is pissed at a major newspaper for doing its job; that is not a good sign, and we need to worry about it. 

        So today he has "news for the Democratic establishment. They can't stop us." He is attacking a party he has never joined and thinks it ought to be supporting him. Maybe 1972 is not the proper analogy; maybe 1968 with its narrow Republican victory better fits the current situation. 


        • I like Liz best, but I think I should go with Joe. Best numbers vs Trump in polls; 100% name recognition. Not a Russian plant. Let’s take out country back and fix things for 2024.

          Biggest concern: he might not lock up the entire Trump administration. I want those creatures ALL punished.

  5. What a perceptual change, the Bloomberg with a huge ad budget and great media presentation and the Bloomberg on stage without the masters of manipulation and bias.  Without all the smoke and mirrors the inner porcupine shows through.  It is nothing a personality makeover won't cure.  He has done quite a good job, though, of airing basic ideas and principals of the politically moderate.  He has also shown the power that money can bring to our process which should scare the hell out of everyone.  He did buy his way to that debate stage.  He has done well in painting Trump for what he is.  For this he deserves more credit than he is getting, but it seems that the population has developed quite the ire for the rich.  Considering what we have to deal with day after day I cannot say I blame them.  

    Let me just say (without too much blowback) that the Democrats need Bloomberg desperately.  He has a pool of talent in technology at his fingertips.  That is how he has made his fortune.  From e-mails to the botched rollout of the ACA, to the hacking of the DNC and the failed app of Iowa caucuses, ignorance and bad judgement about technology has been the Achilles heel of the party.  It is much better having him inside the tent pissing out than outside of the tent with Putin and Trump pissing in.  The party needs his help and his talent.  Oh, that media talent he has purchased  might come in handy also.  As is said, politics does make for some strange bedfellows (or is it now bedmates?).

  6. Bloomberg was supposedly the candidate who would appeal to that old consultant chestnut "the center". His larger problem could be that "the center" has become nearly irrelevant:

    "An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter

    Rachel Bitecofer’s radical new theory predicted the midterms spot-on. So who’s going to win 2020?"

    If Bloomberg really wants to make himself useful, he should do as has been suggested and buy Fox News. His Napoleonic crusade to save the Democratic party seems to be coming up short.


  7. It doesn't matter who the candidate turns out to be, Republicans will brand them "socialist" by association. It's already on right wing sites. The exception is Bloomberg, who they're calling an authoritarian technocrat with whatever political beliefs are convenient at the moment, which is not easy to argue with.



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