The Phony Campaign

2020-02-09 Update

We concentrate on Mayor Mike this week, and we open with Mr. Ramirez's illustration of Warren on Bloomberg, based on an actual quote.

[Warren on Bloomberg]

Ayuh. (See, I'm getting my Cranky Yankee on, in preparation for the primary.) Everyone knows the honest way to buy votes is to promise goodies paid for with taxpayer money.

On to our numbers. The Iowa caucus, however botched, shook things up quite a bit at the prediction markets.

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 59.3% +4.4% 1,630,000 -240,000
Bernie Sanders 15.6% -0.6% 495,000 -62,000
Joe Biden 3.8% -8.4% 435,000 -75,000
Pete Buttigieg 4.8% --- 200,000 ---
Michael Bloomberg 9.9% +2.5% 82,500 -17,100

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

In no particular order:

  • Mayor Pete is back in contention, baby.
  • The big gainer in win-probability over the week was (perhaps not surprisingly) Still-President Donald John Trump, what with his acquittal, good economic news, and the increasing use of the "clown car" metaphor for his opponents.
  • Joe Biden (absolutely not surprisingly) was the big loser in win-probabiliity over the week.
  • Bernie's strong Iowa showing caused the bettors to view him less favorably, given the perception that he'll (eventually) be viewed as unelectable, and voters will turn their lonely eyes to…
  • Mayor Mike! As the last man standing.

So what about Mike?

  • Rich Lowry channels his inner Liz Warren in the New York Post: Bloomberg's naked bid to buy the White House is an assault on democracy. Heh, "naked".

    It’s a free country, and Bloomberg can spend as much money as he likes on whatever suits his fancy. But Bloomberg 2020 is still an affront to small-“d” democratic sensibilities, a tribute not to his ­superior political skills or messaging compared with the other candidates, but his access to an enormous personal bank account.

    The level of his spending is truly astonishing — Croesus goes all in on Super Tuesday. He has spent more than $300 million on various forms of advertising. By the end, he is going to make the profligate self-funder Tom Steyer — who managed to pointlessly buy himself onto the Democratic debate stage — look like a spendthrift.

    Well, at least (as observed above) he's spending his own money to buy your vote, right?

    Well… as it turns out, observes the NYPost Editorial Board, he's looking to spend plenty of tax money too:

    How far left has the Democratic Party turned? Well, Mike Bloomberg aims to become the main “moderate” rival to frontrunner Bernie Sanders — yet Bloomy’s promising to raise taxes by $5 trillion over a decade.

    When we encouraged Bloomberg to join the race over a year ago, it was because he had “declared his intention to run as a moderate in an effort to pull the Democratic Party back to the center.”

    Sigh: Now he’s vowing tax hikes higher than Joe Biden’s plan for a $3.4 trillion hit.

    Sigh, indeed. There seems to be not even a decent plurality of Democrat voters who can be persuaded to vote on the "fiscal sanity" issue.

  • At National Review, Kyle Smith presents Reasons Mayor Mike Could Win the Democratic Presidential Nomination. A couple:

    One: […] the Democrats could use every trick in the book, or indeed rewrite the book, to stop Sanders. Step forward, superdelegates! Hail, change in debate rules! The downside risk of this is a replay of the 1968 Chicago convention chaos, this time in Milwaukee. But it’s not like even the Bolshiest of Bernie Bros are going to stay home on November 3 if their choice is between a capitalist Democrat and Donald Trump, and the party knows this.

    Two: Given Biden’s continual struggles and Elizabeth Warren’s rapid fade, the race could narrow to a Sanders–Bloomberg contest quickly if Buttigieg’s momentum were to stall. Some of Warren’s fans among technocrats and the highly educated will even defect to Bloomberg, on the grounds that he’s the sort of managerial-class mandarin they feel an affinity with. (Warren’s anti-capitalist rhetoric is, I think, seen as merely performative by a significant percentage of her devotees.)

    Number three is, of course, money. I encourage you to click over to read Kyle's entertaining observations on that score.

  • At Reason, Matt Welch has never been a Bloomie fan, and does not look forward to Michael Bloomberg and the Imperious Presidency. Revealing anecdote:

    In an April 2018 conversation with Christine Lagarde, then the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg defended his fondness for taxing treats, such as sugary sodas and trans fats, that are mostly enjoyed by the non-rich.

    "Some people say, well, taxes are regressive," he said. "But in this case, yes they are! That's the good thing about them, because the problem is in people that don't have a lot of money. And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves….The question is, do you want to pander to those people, or do you want to get them to live longer?"

    Rules may be important for "those people" but are much less so for the eighth-richest man on the planet. He is the leading financier of gun control advocacy in America—and one of the few people allowed to have an armed security detail in Bermuda. He has been positively Trumpian about releasing his tax returns, snapping at the mere suggestion that such political traditions should apply to him. And as recently as January 2019, even as the rest of the Democratic Party was finally evolving toward getting rid of federal prohibitions on the marijuana Bloomberg once enjoyed, the former mayor called pot legalization "perhaps the stupidest thing we've ever done."

    Not for nothing did Reason put Mike at number one on its 2013 list of 45 Enemies of Freedom.

  • Back at National Review, Kevin D. Williamson observes that Bloomberg is The Candidate Progressives & Independents Say They Want.

    Bloomberg has plans, too — but, unlike Warren, Sanders, Biden, et al., he has a pretty good record for bringing those plans to fruition. After a wildly successful career in business, he went into politics, which is what you do when your tens of billions of dollars are no longer enough to satisfy your colossal vanity. He served three terms as mayor.

    And, damn his eyes, he was pretty good at it: Murder rates went down, and high-school graduation rates went up. His government routinely ran surpluses. As Mike Pesca put it in Slate: “It’s true that Bloomberg is running differently than everyone else in the race and it’s also true that he’s not a politician in the emotive or empathetic mold of recently successful candidates. But in fact, Bloomberg does have a message that could appeal to voters, and it’s a simple one: Michael Bloomberg has a greater record of accomplishment in office than any candidate in the race.” How? Because Bloomberg is the nerd that Senator Warren pretends to be: a creature of data, measurement, and cold-eyed assessment of political, economic, and institutional realities.

    And his bottom line is too good to not quote:

    A problem-solving realist with a strong, non-hypothetical record in the real world? No, no, say Democrats, give us the rampaging socialist wackadoodle who’s never had a real job. Sure, he might show up to his inauguration wearing Lenin’s embalmed head as a codpiece, but that’ll show the plutocrats!

    That’s the 2020 Democrats: Too bananas for Marianne (no relation) Williamson. The news from Iowa is a lot like the news from the Senate: Full of evidence that Donald Trump is, if nothing else, lucky in his opponents.

    Interesting. I've been seeing a lot of Bloomberg ads, which is odd. I thought he was ignoring New Hampshire. He must think he has a decent shot here.

  • I've been saving this for almost a month, but Red State's Brad Slager thought that Mike went Off the Rails with a series of tweets during a debate from which he was excluded. Here's a colorful one:

    The other quoted tweets are bizarre, off the wall if not the rails, and you might find them amusing. And a reason to vote for him? Well, you tell me.

  • And … oh yeah … there was also the Super Bowl effect. Nick Gillespie says Mike Bloomberg Just Lost My Vote With His Super Bowl Ad. The ad was tear-jerkery about gun control. Bottom line:

    The 2020 race doesn't yet have a major-party candidate who offers a compelling, optimistic, and realistic vision of an economically vibrant and socially tolerant nation. Instead we have, on the one hand, an incumbent president who can barely go a few hours without picking fights and signing off on massive spending increases, trade barriers, and immigration restrictions. On the other hand, we have a bunch of Democrats who talk about massively expanding the size, scope, and spending of government while dreaming of new taxes and regulations on virtually every aspect of our lives.

    Mike Bloomberg might have offered an alternative to these two exhausting and generally miserable options. Instead, he is dropping millions of dollars on a high-profile commercial that will win him no new followers nor distinguish him from his rivals. Given his billions, Bloomberg can afford to follow his bliss when it comes to campaigning, but I know I'll be looking elsewhere for a candidate to support.

    Not just bad on content, bad on strategic positioning.

  • And of course, the Intercept reported Mike Bloomberg Plagiarized Campaign Literature.

    Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign plagiarized portions of its plans for maternal health, LGBTQ equality, the economy, tax policy, infrastructure, and mental health from research publications, media outlets, and a number of nonprofit, educational, and policy groups.

    The Intercept found that exact passages from at least eight Bloomberg plans or accompanying fact sheets were direct copies of material from media outlets including CNN, Time, and CBS, a research center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the American Medical Association, Everytown for Gun Safety, Building America’s Future Educational Fund, and other organizations. Bloomberg co-founded Everytown for Gun Safety, a political organization focused on gun control, and Building America’s Future Educational Fund, a nonprofit working on infrastructure investment and reform, and has chaired them in the past, and he was listed as a co-author on the educational fund’s reports. He is not clearly affiliated with the other sources.  The plagiarized sections ranged in length from entire paragraphs to individual sentences and fragments in documents that were between five and 174 pages long.

    Geez, if you're dropping untold millions on your campaign, can't you spend a few bucks on staffers who won't obviously steal words from elsewhere?