The sub-tweeters and thumb-twitchers are writing Michael Bloomberg’s political obituary after his admittedly less than thrilling turn in Las Vegas, but the pundits were always coming not to praise him, but to bury him. Who does this rich amateur think he is? What year does this out-of-touch oligarch think we’re in, 2016?
The elites of the Democratic party and their baggage train in the media have, like an earlier elite in search of a restoration, learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. They remember only the humiliation of Trump’s victory in 2016. They refuse to consider the reasons for their repudiation by the voters, or the arrogance that led Hillary Clinton and her team to assume that the Blue Wall was theirs by hereditary right. And they refuse to accept another lesson of 2016: it’s still possible to fix a party conference, but the party no longer controls the primaries and the debates.
Remember how Democrats and Republicans alike mocked Donald Trump for even entering the Republican nomination race? Remember how the pontificators decreed that Trump’s lack of political experience disbarred him from the high office of crashing the biggest economy in the world, as the professional politicians managed to do in 2007 and 2008?
Remember how, when it emerged that the voters hand the measure of their corrupt and incompetent professional politicians, the same punditry decreed that Trump’s crudeness should bar him from an office once graced by the notoriously sweet-mouthed Lyndon Johnson, and that Trump’s handsiness should bar him from a position once held by the famously uxorious John F. Kennedy?
It’s déjà vu all over again. In Vegas, the professional wrestlers ganged up on the amateur. It wasn’t pretty, especially when Elizabeth Warren put him in a full body press, but Bloomberg is still in the ring. He might even have impressed the high rollers with his ability to take his knocks.
But, as in wrestling, the moves are always known in advance. The professionals are tag-teaming against the amateur because they know that this script offers their only chance of winning. But Bloomberg is also betting on himself, and he’s got a bigger roll in his pocket — so big, in fact, that the fix is in.
The truth is, Bloomberg is in the Democratic nomination race for as long as he wants to be. The longer he stays in the race, the greater the amount of money he’ll spread around. The more he spends, the more the party managers and the senators and the governors and, though they’re far too high-minded to admit it, the media will come to see his candidacy as a fact that’s going to go the distance, and a reality to which the smart money should accommodate itself in case Bloomberg’s candidacy becomes a payday.
Bloomberg understands the lessons of 2016 because, like Donald Trump, he understood them long before and was prepared to act accordingly. Trump and Bloomberg know what the rest of the Democratic field know but, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, lack the integrity to say. The politicians of America are for sale to their highest donor.
Bloomberg also shares with Trump a businessman’s awareness of the price of morals and the cost of moralizing. Elizabeth Warren affected outrage about Bloomberg’s alleged jokes about ‘horse-faced lesbians’ and transvestites, but Trump has already proven that these attitudes, fatal though they may be in the politically correct kingdom of the campus, are an inverse form of recommendation: the kind of candidate who refuses to bow to the puritans might also be the kind of president who could refuse the bribes of the donors.
The irony, of course, being that Trump and Bloomberg are the donors. Like they say in the fundraising business, one hand washes the other. With Bernie Sanders the people’s choice, Joe Biden a worn-out ham, and Warren and Buttigieg lacking national appeal, Bloomberg can still wipe the floor with them all.