Monday, February 17, 2020

It's a Funny Old World: Bloomberg Edition

I’m one of those reluctant Trump supporters who are more or less pleased with his policies, but just wish he’d STFU once in a while. I’d like a better Republican choice, like Nikki Haley perhaps, but that’s not in the cards for this year. On balance then, I’d like to see four more years and a couple more Supreme Court picks for Donald Trump.

St, Michael of the Blessed Democratic Party
 None of the Democrats running for president, all 24 of them at one point, struck me as having anything particularly appealing to offer the voting public. Mostly a bunch of puffed-up Senators and second-rate posers/opportunists, but I repeat myself. Biden concerned me for a little while, but once he appeared on the campaign stage, it was painfully obvious that he was well past his sell-by date. The first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire suggest that the rest of the Democratic electorate see that too. Trump could have saved himself the four months of impeachment headaches from that Zelensky phone call. It turns out Biden was destined to blow himself up without any help from Hunter or the Ukrainians! Hah! Who knew?

But for the past several months I’ve been concerned … really concerned, that Mike Bloomberg just might have what it takes to beat Donald Trump. Bloomberg is a guy with some gravitas. He built a multibillion-dollar technology company from the ground up. He was, by most accounts, a successful mayor of America’s largest city where he regularly dealt with big issues of real significance. Oh … and the money. Don’t forget the money. He’s got billions and billions of dollars, and he’s apparently decided he’s willing to spend whatever it takes to defeat Donald Trump. Judging by what I read, Bloomberg’s advertising buys are apparently an order of magnitude greater than anything ever seen before in modern politics.

And I see the appeal of Mike Bloomberg. I kind of like some of the things he stands for. Despite being currently registered as a Libertarian, I’m not particularly offended by his support of the stop-and-frisk policy. It may have been politically incorrect, but Bloomberg, following in Rudy’s footsteps, recognized that the gun violence in New York City was largely a problem within one particular demographic. And that demographic didn’t just describe the perpetrators of the violence, but the victims as well. Bloomberg supported a controversial policy that may not have sat well with the ACLU, but it worked. I guess I’m one of those pragmatic Libertarians. Profiling does not send me looking for the smelling salts. And today I saw an old video of Bloomberg talking about how meaningful healthcare reform will require saying no to some people. Well, duh! What true Libertarian will disagree with that?

Oddly enough, you know what this card-carrying Libertarian objects to the most about Michael Bloomberg? His soda ban! While mayor of New York City, he instituted a limit on the size of your soda cup because he thought he should decide for you how large a soda to purchase. For your own good, of course! You were too stupid to make that decision for yourself. Mike Bloomberg, clothed in the robes of the All-Powerful Nanny State would make that decision on your behalf.

So I kind of like Policy Mike Bloomberg, but I hate Nanny-State Mike Bloomberg. How petty is that? Well, as it turns out, not really so petty after all. Mike Bloomberg is also a gun control freak and a climate alarmist. So, this Libertarian can comfortably oppose him on solid policy grounds without having to look like a petulant child throwing a tantrum because my Mountain Dew portion is too small.

So, back to my previous concern. What if this guy wins? It could happen. I kind of like him. Some Republicans and plenty of independents will like him. And the Donald is such a blowhard. He pisses off a lot of people. So many voters viscerally hate him. Plus, Donald inherited his fortune and squandered a lot of it. Bloomberg earned every penny of his. Bloomberg may not be the showman Trump is, but does anybody really doubt that Bloomberg is probably a lot smarter and way more capable than Donald Trump?

And the money. All that money! And despite Bloomberg’s nominally Republican past, he would be a disaster for conservatism in this country. And he could win. Did I mention that? Abortion-on-demand judges, trillions frittered away on the Green New Deal, and the Second Amendment facing the most significant threat in my lifetime. That’s what a Bloomberg presidency could mean.

Here’s where we stand today: It’s still a crowded Democratic field. There’s a progressive lane dominated by Bernie Sanders and a so-called moderate lane still cluttered with a slew of possibly viable contenders, none of whom can emerge because the others won’t get out of the way. And to the horror of the Democratic establishment, it’s starting to look like Bernie Sanders could win with an anemic plurality. Bernie emerges victorious, by some reckoning, because he is the cleanest dirty shirt. And swooping in to take advantage of this lack of clarity in the Democratic race is the seemingly invincible Mike Bloomberg. It’s a plausible scenario. I was starting to get worried. I was almost convinced.

But then, something happened. Something changed. I’m still not complacent, but I see a few green shoots of hope blossoming from the election results of the past few weeks. It turns out, this Libertarian isn’t the only one who is worried about Mike Bloomberg. It turns out there are a lot of Democrats who are worried about him too. I’m starting to see news stories and anti-Bloomberg ads paid for by other Democrats. Every other Democrat in the moderate lane opposes him because he’s their competition. They resent his Johnny-come-lately entry into the race while they’ve been slogging away for months. They resent his bottomless well of money that will be spent against them before any of it is spent on Trump. And they resent that he is climbing up in the polls based on advertising while never having had to face the scrutiny of the debate stage.

If the moderates resent him, the Bernie Bros absolutely despise him. He represents everything they hate in politics. Bloomberg is a billionaire former Republican who is buying the election, and who, no matter what he says now, has had impure thoughts in the past on some of the most sacred tenets of progressive orthodoxy. The moderates, if defeated, will fall in line behind Bloomberg. But Bernie would probably cut off his left testicle before he would endorse Mike Bloomberg for president.  Some of the Bernie Bros will swallow hard and vote for Bloomberg. Many will stay home or vote Green. Oddly enough, the Donald will likely convince some to vote Trump in 2020. Either way, the edifice that is Mike Bloomberg seems to be slightly less imposing now that his Democratic opponents have seen fit to focus more attention on him. And the irony is that if Bloomberg is defeated, it will not be at the hands of Donald Trump, but at the hands of his fellow Democrats. The same fellow Democrats for whom he represents, even if they don’t realize it, the only real possibility of beating Donald Trump. Trump should lay off of Mini-Mike for the time being. Let the Democrats beat up on Bloomberg for him. It’s time for the Donald to channel his inner Napoleon. Don’t interrupt your enemies while they are destroying themselves.

The irony of this situation is difficult to ignore. If Bloomberg wins the Democratic nomination, he alienates, perhaps permanently, a sizeable portion of the Democratic coalition. If he loses, he cedes the stage to a much more beatable alternative, no matter who that is. Republicans, who have the most to fear from Mike Bloomberg, needn’t lift a finger to oppose him, at least not yet. Democrats are rushing forward to take up the banner against him. After months of campaigning by a lackluster group of Democratic presidential candidates, one late arrival starts to emerge as someone who actually has the capacity to beat Donald Trump. A star has appeared in the eastern sky. A potential savior has been born unto the Democrats to wash away the sins of months of clumsy, ineffectual, and at times viciously adversarial campaigning, and the response of the rest of the Democrats is to try and smother the new arrival in his crib. Mike Bloomberg, the brightest hope the Democratic Party has for rescuing them from four more years of Donald Trump might just end up being defeated by the very people he is trying to rescue. It’s a funny old world.