Could Have Been Worse

Screen Shot 2020-02-21 at 9.31.20 PM

These data, from Morning Consult earlier today, show, surprisingly, that Bloomberg lost only three points of popularity, is in solid third place, and is still well ahead of Warren, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar.

Someone named Ben Mathis-Lilley writes, waggishly, “The other good news [for Bloombereg] is that, insofar as humans can only perceive time as something that moves in one direction, he’ll never have to experience those two hours onstage ever again!”

Actually, I Have Yet More Good News

Reports from Mount Sinai Hospital, where Bloomberg underwent an emergency personality transplant earlier today, say that he is out of the recovery room, sitting up, and taking nourishment.

Physicians also took the opportunity to restore parts of his body which Elizabeth Warren had removed.

Meanwhile, it is widely reported that, on Thursday evening, Elizabeth Warren served a delcious evening meal of Rocky Mountain oysters.

Rocky Mountain oysters


The Night of the Long Knives

long knives

An essential feature of a viable Bloomberg candidacy is the confident anticipation that he can stand next to Trump and out-macho the Orange Man. Not the only essential feature—but a necessary one. A sine qua non.

If Bloomberg can’t stand on the stage and look more macho than Elizabeth Warren, there is no hope for Bloomberg.

There will be—can you believe it?—another debate this coming Tuesday evening. For his sake, I certainly hope Bloomberg is hiring some really qualified coaches, paying them whatever exorbitant fees that want to charge, and listening to their good advice.

Also, at this point, I think he has got to release the ladies from the non-disclosure agreements.

It’s going to be a knife fight, and he needs to have his machete ready.

What Bloomberg Should Have Said About the Non-Disclosure Agreements


This morning, a zillion pundits are telling us how badly Bloomberg performed last night. They are right, of course.

Folks who know about high stakes business litigation have seen this movie before. Marvin Moneybags hires several people, at a combined cost of several thousand dollars an hour, to help him prepare for his testimony. They give good advice.

Marvin Moneybags does not take their advice because he is Marvin Moneybags, and he has some serious blind spots. Because of Marvin’s blind spots, some things that make perfect sense to Marvin Moneybags don’t make any sense to anyone else.

I have seen this movie. In fact, I have been in this movie. Marvin Moneybags testifies, ignoring the expensive advice he received, and he makes himself look like a jerk.

Such was Bloomberg’s contention that the women who signed the non-disclosure agreements wanted them to continue, and he would respect their wishes. He said that several times. It sounded worse and worse, every time he said it.

What He Should Have Said

Some talking heads this morning said he had no good answer, so he should have “pivoted” to some other women-related issue.

I think that is wrong. What he should have said, I think, is this:

“Back in the 1990’s I said some things I should not have said. Some people sued me. I settled the cases by paying money in exchange for their dropping the lawsuits and signing non-disclosure agreements.

“And will I now waive my legal rights under these NDSs? No, I will not do that, and let me tell you why I won’t do it. Because, if I did that, then we would spend the next weeks and months debating about exactly what I said to some folks back in the 1990s—instead of focusing on how to defeat a criminal who wants to overthrow the republic, put his enemies in jail, and let the world burn to a crisp.

“Can we just have a little perspective here, please?”

One More Pre-Game Read


Most of the anti-Mike pieces I see are from the left. Here’s one from a former Jeb Bush employee: Tim Miller, The Skeptic’s Case Against Bloomberg: Just a few questions before we anoint Mayor Mike as the moderate savior. Hilarious. Informed. Trenchant. I’m not going to reproduce the high points. There are too many of them. Just read it for yourself.

On the stage we will see one Bernie, one Bernie Lite, and four Not Bernies. If the people who like any of the three Not Bernies will just get behind one candidate, that candidate will win the Democratic nomination. If not, then Bernie will win the nomination, and the alea will bloody well have been iacta.

But before that happens, Mike has one chance, tonight, to show that he’s an actual human being, not the robot he has been made out to be. Sort of like those windows that pop up in your browser, asking you to prove you’re not a robot by picking out which of the nine fuzzy, fuzzy pictures show a bus or a part of a bus.

And so, tonight, may the race be to the swift.

Two African American Perspectives

Charles M. Blow, Democrats, Don’t Wish for Your Own Rogue: Bloomberg’s record and misleading statements make him a dangerous choice:

I’m already disgusted by Trump’s lies. Voters are tired of being lied to. Black voters in particular are tired of being lied to. Bloomberg knows that he is twisting the truth [about his stop-and-frisk record]. He just hopes you won’t notice.

I don’t trust Bloomberg. When he had political power, he used it to harm. I don’t ever want to see him with political power again, “ramming through” social programs that harm vulnerable people.

He has done some admirable work as a private citizen. A private citizen is what he should remain.

Jonathan Capehart, Aunt Gloria is still with Biden. But Mom is leaning to Bloomberg:

Like Aunt Gloria, my mother also believes it’s going to take an old white man to beat an old white man. She was behind Biden, but she told me that she is seriously considering voting for Bloomberg during the Acela corridor primary on April 28. And, no, my mom is not bothered by his use of stop-and-frisk or recently revealed controversial remarks about the practice. She just wants Trump out.

“There isn’t a candidate that doesn’t have an issue with the black community. A Bloomberg presidency is better for people of color than to leave Trump in office,” my mother said via text. “I am not concerned with what Bloomberg did or said in the past. I’m looking toward the future.”

Do I Like Mike?


I still don’t know whether I like Mike. Maybe, come bedtime Wednesday, I’ll have a better idea.

But, folks, get a grip. There’s a big difference between content free political advertising:

and substantive advertising:

If I vote for Mike in the primary, it will not be because he bought my vote, it will be because he has persuaded me that he is the person to take on Trump.

The more you say “Bloomberg is buying the election,” the more you insult me.

Is Mike Buying the Election?

no buying

No, Bernie, Mike is not buying the election. Mike is buying a stupendously large number of advertisements.

And what do all of these ads say? Do they say, in words or substance, “Vote for me because I have more money than God and therefore deserve to be president”?

No, that is not what they say.

What they do say, in words or substance, is “Vote for me because I have more money than God—which is, BTW, about 50 times more money than Donald Trump has—and because I have a solid record of business experience, I have a solid record of political and administrative experience, I have a solid record of philanthropy on a massive scale, I articulate the right priorities, I put my money exactly where my mouth is, in support of the priorities I have articulated, and because I scare the bejesus out of Donald Trump.”

Finally, let us ask, in what circumstances would buying the largest number of ads equate to buying the election?

That would be a circumstance in which the electorate are so stupid that they simply vote for the person who bought the most advertisements, regardless of what the advertisements say.

So, Bernie, would you please stop saying that anyone who entertains the possibility of supporting Mike is stupid? Because it’s untrue. Because it’s insulting. And because it doesn’t help your cause.

Oh, the Unfairness!


The right to participate in the last Democratic debate, on February 7, depended on the satisfaction of both a polling criterion and a donor criterion. In this, it was similar to the prior seven debates of this season, though the requirements had ratcheted up over time. The detailed criteria for the last debate are set forth in the footnote.[1]

The next debate wll be in Nevada, on February 19. Mike Bloomberg is one hundred percent self-funding. If you try to give him some money, he won’t take it. Obviously, then, he would fail the donor criterion, and would not be allowed to participate. (Small qualification: while he won’t take an outright donation, he will sell you a nice T-shirt for $22.25.)

On January 31, the Democratic National Committee announced the any donor criterion would be eliminated for the Nevada debate and for future debates. This will allow Bloomberg to be on the stage, provided he meets the polling criterion, which he has not yet fulfilled.

A State of High Dudgeon

Bernie and the Bernie Brothers are having a conniption about the DNC’s changing the rules to allow one hundred percent self-funded zillionaires to debate. They have had a lot to say about “unfairness” and “rigged systems.” Steyer and Yang, likewise, were not best pleased. (I haven’t researched what, if anything, the rest of the candidates have said.)

I myself will pass on “rigged,” but I won’t quarrel with “unfair.”

I suspect that the DNC did not have one hundred percent self-funded zillionaires in mind when they established the donor criterion in the first place. Who would have thought that such an animal might exist? I assume they were trying to use some metric for intensity of support.

Be that as it may, changing the rules in the middle of the game is still changing the rules in the middle of the game. So, as I said, I won’t take issue with “unfair.”

Sometimes, in Life, Every Possible Choice is Unfair to Someone

Take this example: scheduled at the same time, on the same day, in three different places, are (a) your son’s ballet recital, (b) your daughter’s soccer match, and (c) your boss’s birthday party. Whichever one you choose to attend, the other two will feel slighted and think you have acted unfairly.

So, with that thought in might, please permit me to ask …

What About Fairness to Me?

I’ll give Bernie and the Bernie Brothers “unfair,” but what about fairness to me?

Bloomberg is among the candidates I am considering. My choice will be vastly more informed if I can see and hear Bloomberg on the stage standing next to the other candidates who remain on my list.

Depriving me of that opportunity is unfairly depriving me of the ability to make a fully informed choice.

What is Bernie’s Real Concern?

There have been nine debates so far, and the criteria have changed every time, or almost every time. It sounds to me as if Bernie’s true beef is not about changing the rules in the middle of the game. It is that he would like the game “rigged”—or feel free to pick a less pejorative term, if you would like—effectively to prevent one hundred percent self-funded zillionaires from running at all.

Now, I think you could make a respectable argument along those lines. But it would be good to be forthright about what you are actually saying.


Four-Poll Threshold A candidate needed at least five percent support in four different pollspublished from a list of approved pollsters between December 13, 2019 and February 6, 2020, which can not be based on open-ended questions and must cover either the national level or the remaining early states of New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina. Only one poll from each approved pollster counted towards meeting the threshold for each region. The approved pollsters are the Associated PressABC News/The Washington PostCBS News/YouGovCNNFox NewsMonmouth UniversityNational Public Radio/PBS Newshour/MaristNBC News/The Wall Street JournalNBC News/Marist,The New York Times/Siena CollegeThe Nevada Independent/Mellman Group, Quinnipiac University, the University of New HampshireUSA Today/Suffolk, and Winthrop University. For organizations that appear in pairs with other entities, only polls conducted by the listed pairings are permitted. Organizations listed individually can partner with any other entity or field polls independently.
Early State Polling Threshold Alternatively to the four-poll threshold, a candidate qualified with at least seven percent support in any two polls from the same list of organizations and time period in the remaining early states of New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina. This threshold does not require that different organizations or regions be used, but also does not include national polls.
Fundraising criterion By the February 6, 2020 deadline, a candidate needed to receive financial support from a minimum of 225,000 unique donors, with at least 1,000 unique donors per state in at least 20 states and/or territories.
Delegate Threshold A candidate will automatically qualify if he or she gained at least one pledged delegate from Iowa for the Democratic National Convention even if no other requirements are met. Because the opinions of Iowa voters are included in this way, polls of Iowa can no longer be considered qualifying under either the Four Poll Threshold or the Early State Polling Threshold.


Billionaires and the Debate


The Sheer Wealth Issue

Last night, someone dismissed Bloomberg’s appeal by allowing as how the last thing voters would want is someone even richer than Trump in the White House. That is, I believe, an unsound observation, arising from the failure to follow Sunzi and Know Your Enemy. In fact, I think a lot of folks on the other side worship Trump because of his alleged wealth. Bloomberg is the person best positioned to show Trump up for the phony he is.

The “Buying Elections” Issue

Last night, someone dismissed Bloomberg by saying, in words or substance, that it isn’t kosher to pick a wealthy, self-funding candidate who can vastly outspend everyone else. The claim, in essence, is that Bloomberg’s method of seeking the nomination is entirely disqualifying.

The argument has great appeal. But suppose, just for the sake of the discussion, that you think Bloomberg is the candidate most likely to win the general election. Do you want to disqualify him anyway, and pick the person next most likely to win, even though that person might lose?