This morning one of my really smart lefty friends (someone I have really good arguments with—more people should try for this—who needless to say really hates Trump), sent me this note:
Last night was the first Dem debate I tuned into, and it was horrifying. Bernie was an angry uncle. Bloomberg was an arrogant asshole. Warren was a ballbusting bluestocking. Pete was a glib greenhorn. Biden was barely alive. And Klobuchar was a smirking SNL character. . . It’s a f—— catastrophe!
I agree with all of this, and this is, of course, why I’m really happy today.
There’s been a lot of good analysis and commentary, and with a full day on my schedule I decided to wait to see what gaps are left to be filled. I think I see one. The conventional wisdom is that Bloomberg had a terrible night. Quite true, yet I want to dissent anyway and suggest that Bloomberg got out of that debate a lot of what he wanted to, and while he must certainly be second-guessing his weak moments, he is probably pleased with the state of things. He might not even mind that he got slagged so badly by Warren and Sanders.
He did plant two main points. First, no one else on that stage can beat Trump. Second, the party’s embrace of socialism is a loser. Good for him. Pin this thought.
Despite the body blow he took over his #MeToo and stop-and-frisk problems, the field didn’t much attack him on his most vulnerable point, namely, for buying his way onto the debate stage. Instead they attacked him for being a successful billionaire, because envy and resentment of the rich is now the central organizing principle (along with racism) of the Democratic Party. If Tom Steyer ever threatened to rise seriously in the polls they’d say that about him too. The fact that they gave Steyer a pass shows that they don’t take him seriously but fear Bloomberg. As John noted, when Bloomberg directly attacked socialism, the audience groaned, and his rivals on the stage sputtered incoherently.
Meanwhile, the net result was that Bernie chugged along, making his nomination more likely. Actually I think we’re only 12 days away from Bernie effectively wrapping it up on Super Tuesday.
I continue to believe that Bloomberg decided to run because he saw that Sanders is likely to win the nomination. If he can’t stop Sanders (the only person he attacked directly last night), he can then announce his independent candidacy by saying, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party—the Democratic Party left me.” Sound familiar? Well yes. No need to be original at a time like this. He can rightly say that the debates barely talked substance about the key issues, in preference for trolling around his past, which a lot of voters won’t much care about. I really was tempted to joke on Twitter that for a voter in West Virginia, it was uncertain that the claim Bloomberg called some women “fat pigs” and “horse-faced lesbians” was a criticism or an endorsement. But of course Twitter is a humor-deprived forum, so I refrained.
Closing thoughts. Amazing that there were no serious questions about foreign policy last night. (Quizzes about the name of the president of Mexico don’t count as serious foreign policy.) This is another dog that didn’t bark, and an indicator of Trump’s re-election. Second, there were no questions about the economy. This doesn’t surprise me, and is further evidence of how the media is on the Democrats’ side. The only sensible question to ask would be, “With the economy so good, how can you reassure Americans your ideas won’t screw it up?”
Chaser: Politico tonight—”Bloomberg Quietly Plotting Brokered Convention Strategy.” Told ya.