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Assault on America, Day 414: Las Vegas pounding knocks the Bloomberg off Mike’s rose

Bloomberg and Warren
“Hey, something’s new, and new is good.”

Like Phil Connors (artfully played by Bill Murray in the movie classic “Groundhog Day”) waking up the day after he’d finally completed a perfect 24 hours, viewers tuning in to the ninth 2020 Democrat presidential candidates’ debate (in Las Vegas, Nevada) last night instantly recognized that things had changed from the previous forum. It wasn’t necessarily the number of participants on stage (6) or the lack of diversity (the Iowa debate last month didn’t feature any minority faces either), it was the presence of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that provided the freshness.

Bloomberg literally bought himself a place in the Democrat conversation through dumping hundreds of millions of his own fortune into campaign advertisements which apparently was sufficient to convince double-digits’ worth of Democrats to support him (Bloomberg’s poll numbers qualified him for the event). While the little Democrat’s ads aren’t exactly as effective as the early 90’s “I want to be like Mike” Gatorade campaign, they’ve done their job. Is it a net positive for the Democrat race, though?

Wednesday night was inconclusive on Bloomberg, largely because he was so new and so untested that his “performance” couldn’t possibly match the expectations of anyone no matter how distinctive. There just isn’t time to stand out, especially if you’re kind of milquetoast to begin with (like Bloomberg). I’m guessing most people’s reactions to the Democrats’ flavor of the moment was, “That’s it? That’s the guy everyone’s been saying will save us from Donald Trump?”

For their part, the other Democrat candidates, all of whom have trudged the campaign trail for about a year or more, treated the newcomer as though he were the living, breathing embodiment of the coronavirus. They’d probably prefer Bloomberg be quarantined on that infamous cruise ship in Japan, too.

The debate’s first question went to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and he mentioned “stop and frisk” in conjunction with Bloomberg and the beating continued from there, including deep digs from Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar in the first five minutes. Ouch. Then Joe Biden and even Pete Buttigieg took turns rhetorically punching Little Mike like a speed bag in a smelly gym. It was painful. Almost felt sorry for the guy.

Then they all took turns beating on each other during the inevitable healthcare discussion. Who can sort it all out? What a parade of dunces. Biden chimed in, “My plan takes care of that!” Sure, Joe! Yours is best! Or is it Bernie’s? Or Pete’s? Or Kamala Harris’s? Oh, that’s right, she’s no longer there!

Bloomberg probably deserved the whipping, but shouldn’t the “traditional” candidates show more appreciation for what the man’s money has bought the party (like a legislative majority in Virginia for instance)? Instead they flogged him mercilessly. Judging by the sheer amount of Bloomberg-ian eye rolls, he wasn’t prepared for the ferocity of his competitors (particularly from “Pocahontas” Warren who browbeat him over sexism and non-disclosure agreements).

The night began with the knowledge that Senator Sanders had opened up an eleven point lead in the Real Clear Politics national average, an astonishingly wide gap that must slowly be consuming the souls of the Democrat party brass, which obviously doesn’t have a clue how to thwart “The Bern’s” momentum now. Likewise, polls show the Green Mountain State socialist with a fourteen point margin in Nevada, a state which the “moderate” establishment hoped would re-elevate Joe Biden back into contention.

If “Bernie the nutty socialist” was a Las Vegas show, the tickets would be selling for double the face value of any other and there’d be tons of buyers. For everyone else? They’re struggling to fill the seats. Discounts, anyone?

Again, they’re only polls, but it doesn’t appear that former South Bend (Indiana) Mayor Pete Buttigieg or Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar were able to capitalize on their flash-in-the-pan successes in the opening states. Both of the upstarts got in their anti-Bloomberg digs as well as restated their cases on Wednesday night but it probably won’t help them in the Silver State, since “Little Mike” isn’t even on the ballot there.

It's all about Bernie now. Even Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren is an afterthought. Maybe she’s getting what she deserved, too.

For Democrats who’ve put their hopes in Bloomberg, you can’t help but think they were disappointed on Wednesday night. He’s definitely no Donald Trump, that’s for sure. There are many similarities between Bloomberg and Trump. They’re both from New York. They both made fortunes working and exploiting the American system’s opportunities and political patronage traditions to achieve vast wealth. They both boast of knowing how to create jobs and manage the economy as well as the best manner in which to deal with foreign heads of state. Both claim to understand the average blue collar Joe despite never having had to live a day wondering where their next meal would come from.

The similarities end there (okay, both are -- or were -- renowned playboys with superiority complexes who believed they could do or say anything they wanted about women or other demographic groups at any given moment). But Donald Trump is approachable, like a member of the club or a guy you could imagine having a beer with (even though he doesn’t drink), an open personality who loves sports and culture and could just as easily comment on the upcoming baseball season as he could diss on Taylor Swift’s politics.

Michael Bloomberg, on the other hand, comes across as a snob, one who if a guy on the street suggested reveling with him in a local pub, he’d not only turn down the invitation, he’d find a way to insult the lesser man (for lacking gray matter or similarly obnoxious snub). He’s defensive and dismissive. Presidential? Are you kidding?

Bloomberg also, somewhat astonishingly, tried to explain away his tax returns and his record with women’s non-disclosure agreements on Wednesday night. Will this be the end of his candidacy?

The difference between the two New Yorkers was evident in Las Vegas from the get-go. Whereas Donald Trump introduced himself to American voters four years ago by delivering a scathing rebuke of the Washington elites, Bloomberg seems more content to play nice with them and become the lead creature in the swamp, to swim along with the other vermin to perpetuate and save the status quo rather than obliterate it.

And try as he might to sound like a “man of the people,” Bloomberg’s persona is pure urban pretentiousness. Tammy Bruce summed up “Little Mike” well in The Washington Times yesterday, “Considering his comments about a variety of people, Mr. Bloomberg seems to have disdain for most Americans, and certainly those who get their hands dirty while working. But it’s identity politics that allowed him to classify ‘farmers’ as dumb and unable to adjust to what the world has in store.”

No wonder Bloomberg decided to skip Iowa. How would the folks in the Hawkeye State have taken to being labeled a collection of ignorant rubes without sufficient “gray matter” by an undersized tinpot dictator like Bloomberg? Bruce continued, “Mr. Bloomberg’s attitude isn’t new, it’s what the so-called elite have always thought about us, they were just more circumspect about it. It’s also a reminder that the choices we make in November are not just about who holds an office, but about what this country becomes.”

Well put. And it’s also why Trump is thriving with the GOP half of the spectrum. Just look at his appearance at Daytona on Sunday. Pure magic.

By the same token, can you imagine Pete Buttigieg showing up at a NASCAR race and engendering wild cheers? Or Bernie Sanders? How about “Pocahontas” Warren? They’re all angry and enraged by Trump’s success, not impressed by his accomplishments.

Bernie Sanders is seemingly mad at everyone (except for maybe Warren), and was particularly crusty with newcomer Bloomberg in Las Vegas. But Sanders wouldn’t dare be too critical of Democrat National Committee Chairman Tom Perez’s decision to scrap the minimum contributions threshold to gain access to the debate stage -- which was designed to ensure a certain level of grassroots support all across the country for each candidate -- because he’s technically not even a member of the party.

While watching the back-and-forth between Sanders and “Little Mike”, a thought occurred to me -- does Bloomberg really benefit from participating in the remaining debates? Trump boycotted one debate and it might’ve cost him an outright win in Iowa, but there’s a good argument suggesting Bloomberg would be better off staying away from the others and letting his TV commercials speak for him. They don’t have to answer questions, right?

Besides, they’re all trying to be the not-Bernie candidate now. Particularly hilarious is the emerging competition between Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Bloomberg to appear to be the most “reasonable” and “moderate” of the Democrat field while simultaneously sticking their irons in the fire to champion the boilerplate leftist causes everyone knows they believe in (like “climate change”, a.k.a., “global warming”). Heck, even “Pocahontas” is sounding a more tempered “I’m a capitalist” tone these days, probably figuring it doesn’t do her any good to hitch her wagon to Sanders any longer. Now she’s got Bloomberg to relentlessly assault, assuming she stays in the race.

It's too late for Warren. There are shinier objects to look at now. And who really cares if Bloomberg’s paying for his own promotion? Anyone?

The tensest moment of the evening ironically didn’t involve Bloomberg. It occurred when Klobuchar and Buttigieg got into it over Washington experience and the fact the Minnesota senator couldn’t remember the name of the president of Mexico. It almost seemed like they were going to come to blows… scary. They’re really getting desperate, aren’t they? It’s something about debates in Las Vegas that gets people in a fighting mood. Not sure why.

Winners of the debate? I completely missed the significance of Amy Klobuchar’s supposed “win” in the last debate largely because I’d mentally tuned-out (due to Democrat fatigue syndrome) by the time she gave her closing statement, which I’d passed off as the standard “Trump is awful and I’m a great gal and I can bring everyone together and daisies will grow and puppies will squeal” Democrat nonsense.

Therefore it’s always tough to offer an overall assessment of the Democrats that seems to stick with their voters. But the one thing I gathered from Wednesday night was that the Michael Bloomberg phenomenon won’t last long. While it’s true that only a certain percentage of primary voters would actually watch this type of forum, sooner or later it’s going to come out that Bloomberg is a near octogenarian bore from Gotham who portends to condescendingly know more about life than everyone else, knowledge that he’s garnered from riding around in armored cars for the past few decades and never being compelled to do anything but write checks and listen to his own conscience.

One thing -- I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe Biden get a bit of a bump from this debate (though he did stumble badly trying to name specifics of his “climate change” solutions), if for nothing else he now seems a little more “stable” and familiar than the new situational balance-of-power in Democrat-land. And some nutcases even heckled Joe during his closing remarks. Will it engender sympathy? How much do the poohbahs hate Bernie? We’re about to discover.

One could argue the real “winners” in the Democrat race are the ones who recognized the writing on the wall and got out long ago before they made complete fools of themselves (like Biden and Warren and soon to be Buttigieg and Klobuchar). With the current crop of non-Bernie Democrats trying to appear “moderate” and leftist concurrently, they all come across as ingenuine and phony. Even “Mayor Pete” and the aw-shucks wholesomeness of “Minnesota nice” Amy Klobuchar doesn’t cut it when they’re trying to have it both ways.

Compare the current crop of Democrats with the 2016 GOP field and the contrasts are striking. Republicans candidates do need to appeal to a wide swath of voters but it isn’t like the Democrats seemingly attempting to please everyone but not capturing the imaginations of anyone in the doing. The “I’m moderate but I still hate Trump and the heinous women’s rights trampling Republicans” act won’t cut it for long. The only authentic one is Bernie and he comes across as a not so lovable curmudgeon who would burn down the Constitution and all remaining American institutions.

Trump’s approval ratings only continue to rise, too. What’s a Democrat to do?

So the winner? Sanders by default. None of these candidates holds a candle to Trump in the all-important likability category. Trump definitely turns a lot of people off yet he exudes an aura of capability and, for a lack of a better way to put it, has a “presence” that none of the Democrats offers. Michael Bloomberg demonstrated it in spades on Wednesday night. The glittering lights of Vegas may have been all around the venue, yet the atmosphere inside the debate hall was decidedly gloomy. When they weren’t yelling at each other… where was the optimism?

Not even the infusion of new blood made this debate any more interesting than the previous iterations -- no “Groundhog Day”-like realizations here. The only thing the Democrat Vegas debate revealed was that the party has a heck of a Sanders-sized problem on their hands. Even if Biden somehow jumpstarts his on-deathwatch campaign, or Bloomberg emerges, or Klobuchar, or Buttigieg, or even “Pocahontas” Warren surges -- they still have to confront Trump later this year.

The prospect has to be frightening, whether they’d admit or not. And there’s no Las Vegas façade that will cover the Democrats’ inadequacies. They should be scared to death of what’s to come.

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