One of America’s richest tycoons is about to learn a costly lesson in Political Theory 101, and one that his fellow Democrats are beginning to grasp: it will take more than just wads of cash to win back the White House.
Following the Democrat’s debate debacle in Atlanta last week, it’s no surprise that Michael Bloomberg tossed his bloated wallet into the three-ring political circus. What’s left for a retired billionaire to do, after all, than go big game hunting for the most divisive figure in American politics?
Bloomberg, 77, three-term mayor of New York City and worth an estimated $54 billion, says he wants to defeat Trump in order to “rebuild America,” which mimics the Republican leader’s own ‘Make America Great Again’ rallying call.
The irony of Bloomberg’s plunge into the deep end of the political cesspool is that the mere presence of an insanely wealthy mogul appearing among the Democratic lineup clashes with the progressive mood that now permeates the party. The radicalization began in earnest with the arrival of four far-left House members, which the media has dubbed ‘The Squad,’ comprised of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA) and Rashida Tlaib (MI).
The arrival of these new lawmakers has not been welcomed by all Democrats, least of all House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had a highly publicized falling out with the freshmen earlier this year. Perhaps Bloomberg’s late entry on the scene is designed to galvanize moderate Democratic support at a time when a call for ‘Socialism’ is being heard on Capitol Hill as a means of addressing America’s increasing wealth inequality.
Whatever the case may be, news of Bloomberg’s virtual participation struck like a thunderbolt among the Democratic nominees, who have been competing for donations to survive the long slog to Super Tuesday. Apparently, billionaires can afford not to suffer such indignities. In purely capitalist fashion, the one-time card-carrying Republican has smugly sidestepped the dust and grind of the campaign trail, opting to take his expensive message to the American voters via television. For Michael Bloomberg it’s the best democracy money can buy.
The billionaire’s war chest surpasses $30m in television ad time, which is already being touted as the heftiest ad buy in primary election history. The ego-heavy commercials will focus attention on his work as mayor following the September 11 attacks, as well as his advocacy on behalf of hot-button issues, like gun control, abortion rights, same-sex marriage and climate change. That stance will work to mollify more moderate Democrats who are turned off by the radical left’s rhetoric.
Bloomberg, who can afford to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars to win the White House, is certainly aware that his odds of getting the Democratic nomination are about 50-50 considering that no other candidate has entered the race this late in the game with success. However, these are not ordinary times for the Democrats, and the old rules must be taken with a generous pinch of salt.
The timing of Bloomberg’s announcement indicates that panic and desperation has taken hold of the Democratic Party and for very good reason: never before in living memory have the Democrats put forward a team of nominees that appear so unlikable and out of sync. None of them come off as remotely ‘presidential’.
Joe Biden, for example, has been propped up by the media as the one septuagenarian who could topple Trump. Yet the 77-year-old Washington veteran suffered a setback in Atlanta as he tripped and stumbled over words, botched facts and appeared disoriented by the flash and floodlights. At one point he boasted that he had the support of the only Black woman elected to the Senate as fellow Democratic contender Kamala Harris waved her hands beside him, saying “No. That’s not true. The other one is here.” Turns out Biden meant to say the ‘first Black woman’ elected to the Senate.
Meanwhile, Obama’s former vice president continues to be hounded by his son Hunter’s past business dealings in murky Ukraine, as well as his own personal indiscretions towards a bevy of females who made the fatal mistake of getting in arm’s reach of the touchy-feely Beltway veteran. Miraculously, despite all of his many character flaws, Joe Biden continues to lead the Democratic pack at 27 percent, at least according to the latest New York Times poll.
On the other side of the Democratic asylum, there is the progressive wing comprised of the millionaire ‘Socialist’ Bernie Sanders, 78, who suffered a heart attack in October just as his campaign was gaining momentum.
Perhaps the ‘worker struggle’ of keeping up maintenance on three large residences – the last acquisition, a $600,000 summer home in Vermont, he bought with cash after bowing out of the 2016 presidential race – was simply too much of a strain not only on his health, but his political message. If only old Bernie would practice what he preaches Americans might take his ‘eat the rich’ Socialist charade more seriously.
And then there is Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts who has so many plans to remake America, that the White House will have to undergo a major expansion just to house them all.
For starters, the former Harvard law professor would impose tough new taxes on the richest Americans, pardon a mountain of student debt and provide free medical care across the board. Although it may sound wonderful in the world of theory, it seems Warren put together a Christmas wish list without ever crunching the numbers. The most conservative estimates put the price tag on her Medicare for All Plan at $20 trillion for the first decade. It’s that sort of breathtaking sticker shock that may keep potential donors and voters from opening up their pocketbooks in support of Warren.
And then there is the character question. Although Warren may come across as a folksy, gritty, down-to-earth country girl who can toss back a beer with the best of them, she has been caught in some doozies of untruths. Most famously was the ‘Fauxcahontas’ scandal in which it emerged that the Senator had claimed Indian heritage on a 1986 registration card for the State Bar of Texas. A subsequent DNA test showed she had negligible traces of American Indian in her blood.
Just last week, Warren told a campaign event that her child never attended private schools. That claim turned out to be yet another unfortunate lie that flies in the face of her education policy.
This turbulence and uncertainty inside of the Democratic Party, aggravated by a lack of real political talent, keeps hope alive for the other under-achieving nominees, like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and especially that of Pete Buttigieg, who has served as the mayor South Bend, Indiana (population 318,000) since 2012.
This month, Buttigieg stunned political pundits when he grabbed first place in a CNN poll of Iowa voters, leaving the media darlings of Biden, Warren and Sanders in the dust. Although Buttigieg, who is the first openly gay Democratic candidate, comes across as articulate and intelligent, it cannot be easily dismissed that his political experience is limited to governing a small city in the rural state of Indiana. Yet, without any foreign policy experience he has managed to keep pace with veteran Washington insiders. That either speaks volumes about Pete Buttigieg’s abilities, or volumes about his lackluster competition. I’m betting on the latter.
With so much uncertainty going on inside of the Democratic Party, it seems less surprising that Michael Bloomberg would take a swing at the White House, something he has teased about doing for a long time. Now, in the irony of all ironies, the race for the White House may actually come down to a battle between two popular mayors, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg. That says a lot about the current political situation in Washington, DC, and nothing terribly positive.
Organization pledges to “arrest and purge” corporate leaders who resist.
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