For a moment there, I was becoming concerned. I’ve seen the national polls highlighting a dramatic surge for Mike Bloomberg — we all have — but there’s something even more alarming about hearing anecdotally how well those hundreds of millions of dollars spent on TV ads have worked on his intended targets. Talk to Black adults with parents in their 60s and 70s who live across the South and you’ll likely find that many of them have been enticed by Bloomberg’s ads, given they present him as Barack Obama’s real best friend best fit to defeat Donald Trump because he could loan God money. Couple that with the unfortunate wave of endorsements from Black mayors across the country and the fear of Bloomberg buying the nomination was becoming rapidly more real.
Before the debate, a friend literally joked to me that “It’s time for Black millennials to return to Facebook and educate our parents about Mike Bloomberg!”
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Fortunately, there was last night’s debate, which offered an introductory course on what a disaster Mike Bloomberg is as a candidate and why it would be foolish to let him buy the Democratic Party for pennies on the dollar.
In his many, many, many ads that air on many, many, many stations many, many, many times on the hour, every hour, Bloomberg comes across as some sort of Wizard of Oz type character who is as omnipotent as he is efficient at running government (because yay for capitalism). In person, you saw a grouch bored out of his mind having to hold conversation with (poor) people he wouldn’t hire. Then, at other times, the grouch became dismissive and condescending, offering disastrous responses to questions about racist policies such as stop and frisk and whether he would release former female employees at his companies from NDAs.
What boggles the mind is Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-conservative-Democrat-for-convenience, was not prepared at all to address questions that were obviously going to be asked of him. I’ve read about how well Bloomberg is paying staffers. Did none of them feel compelled to prep him for a better response to why he used a massive police force to maintain a quasi-authoritarian state in which Black and brown men of all ages could be subject to legalized discrimination? The same for all the awful things he’s accused of saying about women and other minorities.
Or does Money Bags Mike solely pay for compliments while donating constructive criticism to charity? That says so much about his hubris and so much about what little inspiration can be drawn from him and his campaign. That said, I can’t forget the other times Bloomberg just sat in the corner. Richie Rich for Stop and Frisk spends all of that money to buy his way onto the debate stage (which the DNC allows) only to show up on stage and let the competition hammer him over and over again? Zoom — look at this candidate these clueless rich New York-based pundits swore could be unstoppable go.
Before I get to you-know-who, I would like to compliment Joe Biden for reminding the nation that the only old white man running for president who’s cool with Barack Obama like that is him, not Bloomberg. Kudos also to Pete Buttigieg, who, in spite of being queer, hasn’t mastered shade as well as the rest of us (bless his heart), but managed to get good digs in on Bloomberg himself. Bernie Sanders hollered profusely about Bloomberg being a plutocrat, too, and, even if that was expected, Sanders’ debate style is solid. It’s often overlooked and undervalued, but it was deployed to huge effect last night.
And then there’s Amy Klobuchar, whose best trait is her contempt for Pete Buttigieg, but, to her credit, knows how to chop someone’s head off with the grin of a suburban mom on an early 1990s-era ABC family sitcom. Again, ask Bloomberg.
Elizabeth Warren, however, is the MVP of the night, because not only did she verbally molly-whop her competitors at every turn, she took her biggest criticism to Bloomberg, the living embodiment of everything her candidacy seeks to bring to heel. We’ve since heard that during commercial breaks, Bloomberg and Warren apparently engaged in friendly banter. Cute for them, but I’m more interested in Warren eviscerating the plutocrat who dabbles in racist policy and rhetoric.
Rolling your eyes when a woman asks you if you will allow women the legal freedom to speak openly about harassment or discrimination they allegedly endured during their time at your company is the sort of response you expect from a Republican. Same with the idea that these women are just complainers who “didn’t like a joke I told or something.” All of this is why, among many reasons, Mike Bloomberg would make better use of his time giving his money to charities and actual Democrats and those who vote with them.
After the debate, Warren told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “After [Bloomberg’s] performance tonight, I have no doubt he is about to drop another $100 million to erase America’s memory of what happened on that debate stage.”
That is likely the case, but money can only take you so far. Last night Bloomberg had to offer a performance that adequately answered why he should be allowed to buy his way into a race that started well over a year ago. He also had to offer an explanation of discriminatory practices that happened on his watch and harmed many. He failed at both. While more commercials may try to cloud his limitations as a candidate, as last night showed, Mike Bloomberg and his sins can only hide between the TV for so long.