In Las Vegas, Mike Bloomberg’s half-billion-dollar crapshoot was revealed as a load of, well, you know. Half a BILLION dollars! That’s what he will have spent before Super Tuesday, when he is first on any ballot. But even before then, his lavishly paid advisers had allowed him to participate in a debate where, unlike his saturation TV ads, the actors and actresses didn’t stick to the script. Instead, they stuck it to him, relentlessly.
Elizabeth Warren awakened from her hibernation to come roaring at Bloomberg just after the opening platitudes: “I’d like to talk about who we’re running against,” she hissed, “a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’ And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” It was “Stomp on Mike Night” at the Democratic debate, as most of the candidates were more than willing to trash Michael Bloomberg, who has the personal financial billions to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a blatant attempt to buy a nomination.
Even with a saturation campaign of TV ads that paint a glowing picture of Bloomberg, the luster is soiled by a past that includes severe offenses against minorities and women, who are vital if the party has any chance to unseat Trump. But this is a Republican-turned-Democrat who is really still a Republican when it comes to his support of a plutocracy. And he is effectively a bigot, or he was when he championed a stop-and-frisk policy that targeted minorities for demeaning treatment at the hands of his NYPD.
He has found it necessary to apologize every chance he gets, now that he needs people of color because they are solidly Democratic — you can’t win the nomination without them. So Bernie Sanders teed off: “Mr. Bloomberg had policies in New York City of stop-and-frisk, which went after African American and Latino people in an outrageous way. … That is not a way you’re going to grow voter turnout.” Bloomberg, who has not participated in a political debate since his mayoral days, was no match for the presidential candidates, who have had eight previous confrontations to sharpen their knives.
Back to Warren, who was relentless about the charges that private businessman Bloomberg had been so sexist that his organization had to settle lawsuits against him. All those who sued had to sign a nondisclosure agreement before their payoff, just like the kind Donald Trump requires. Would he allow those who are bound by those NDAs to speak publicly?
No, insisted Bloomberg, signing them was “consensual.” Millions of women consider “consensual” a favorite refuge for those accused of being a sexual predator. But then sensitivity has never been Bloomberg’s thing. At one point in the debate, Sanders was advocating that corporations be required to include a company’s workers on their board of directors. Bloomberg replied: “Other countries tried that. It was called communism.” Sanders calls himself a socialist, not a communist. There’s a difference. It’s important to note that Bernie Sanders seems to be running away with the race at this early stage, which is scaring the daylights out of party leaders who believe that his nomination would be an act of election surrender to Trump. Meanwhile, the Democratic candidates will pile on Bloomberg again and again and again.
No amount of paid TV ads can protect him from that.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN. (c) 2020 Bob Franken Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.