The Democratic Debates, Part 9: Special Bloomberg Edition

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Look at the billionaire wanting to be called on

W.J. Astore

Feeling my own pain, I watched last night’s Democratic debate from Nevada, which I have to say sparkled in the first hour as Elizabeth Warren tore into Mike Bloomberg for his racism and sexism.  Indeed, all our regulars took their shots at the billionaire, but I thought Warren landed the most telling ones.  Throughout the proceedings, Bloomberg largely looked bored; perhaps he was mentally counting the billions he’d saved under Trump’s tax rebate for the richest.

Anyhow, I somehow endured the entire two hours, though the dishonest questioning of Bernie Sanders by the panel put me on edge.  Basically, they hinted he was an un-American socialist-communist who’d soon collapse from another heart attack.  It was that bad.

Here’s how I see the candidates and their performances, post-debate and in alphabetical order:

Joe Biden: I think he profits the most from Bloomberg being on the stage, because Uncle Joe no longer has the worst record.  As the other candidates went after Bloomberg, Biden could wax nostalgically about the good old days under Obama.  He did OK.

Mike Bloomberg: Mayor Mike is a mega-rich old white guy consumed by his own ego and smugness.  He didn’t even bother trying to connect with people.  Money is his connection.

Pete Buttigieg: Mayor Pete is mega-poor young white guy consumed by his own ego and smugness.  As he got into a few tussles with Amy Klobuchar, I found myself rooting for Amy.

Amy Klobuchar: She’s good when she’s delivering prepared lines, but she faltered when asked about her inability to name the president of Mexico.  She was both defensive and disingenuous, not the best combination.

Bernie Sanders: Bernie is always Bernie.  Consistent passion on behalf of workers is his sweet spot.  He hit a home run as he talked about socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor.

Elizabeth Warren: Something about the presence of Bloomberg lit a fire under Warren.  She had someone to torch, and she hit the target.  She also brought her remarks back to people of color on several occasions.  Perhaps her best debate performance yet.

As usual, the mainstream media was awful.  Did you know capitalism is the religion of America?  Apart from Bernie, the candidates professed their belief in capitalism as if the almighty god of America is Mammon.  Then again, our money says “In [this] God We Trust.”  In all seriousness, there’s something truly unseemly about all the money-grubbing in these debates.

Of course, you already know what was missing in this debate.  There were no questions on foreign policy.  None on America’s wars.  None on the military-industrial complex.  None on Iran or North Korea or Venezuela.  There were questions on trade that involved China and Mexico, but that was about it.  But at least climate change was discussed.

Most revealingly of all, the candidates were asked if the candidate with the most delegates should be the party’s nominee, even if that candidate lacked the requisite number for a first ballot win.  All the candidates said, “let the [rigged] process play out,” meaning let the establishment’s super-delegates determine the winner, except for Bernie, who is likely to be the candidate with the most delegates who gets screwed by the DNC this summer.

And there you have it.  Time for a third party and a true political revolution, Bernie.

35 thoughts on “The Democratic Debates, Part 9: Special Bloomberg Edition

  1. I also watched, between 03:00 and 05:00 European time…, too curious to see how Bloomberg would fare. I greatly agree with your comments. Warren was great, good for her, Buttigieg increasingly an insufferable preacher, self-anointed pop star Klobuchar increasingly insufferably self-congratulatory. Biden described Obama’s intervention in ‘stop & frisk’ first as moderation, no I mean mediation, second time round moderation and finally ‘monitoring’. A debate between him and Trump might actually be fun, sort of Laurel & Hardy. Nice he got reminded of having deported 3 million people, by someone in the audience. Bloomberg’s patronising arrogance and patriarchal opinion that his ‘giving away all his money’ could possibly be the answer to the US’ multiple woes, was deadly.
    But then again, Trump’s various shortcomings did not stop him from being elected…
    Bernie had a few moments when he got carried away by anger – which I fully understand, but it might lead to him once again being labled as not electable. The communist & health stabs were below the belt. So was mayor Pete’s accusation of Bernie ‘polarising’ and doubting his Democratic credentials.
    In general, this again was not a debate. Most of the panel’s questions were not to clarify the candidates’ views, but to set traps for them. I suppose the model with just about a minute for each answer cannot but lead to an increasingly boring series of repetitive soundbites.

    Now addicted to Bernie’s Twitter, it looks like he has a great team which picks news items which he can use as fresh ammunition. Found this lovely op-ed from Teen Vogue there :
    https://www.teenvogue.com/story/queer-case-for-bernie-sanders-2020-democratic-candidate-queer-liberation-op-ed Confirms what I was thinking in 2016 : that Bernie did not specifically cater to minorities not because he does not care about them, but precisely because he thinks all are equal and will equally benefit from his plans anyway – rather than remember about them during election periods and then treat them merely as a blank pool of anonimous voters. Numbers rather than individuals.
    Will have to resist the temptation to stay up for other west coast debates though …

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  2. As you pointed out the questions were not about the topics that matter. The biggest thing I got of that debate is that it’s true Bloomberg, if elected, would be more like Trump than Trump–or at least the close enough.

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    1. I decided to read Washington’s Farewell Address during this debate. here is a snipit, and a link to read more if you wish.
      Washington recognizes that it is natural for people to organize and operate within groups such as political parties, but he also argues that every government has recognized political parties as an enemy and has sought to repress them because of their tendency to seek more power than other groups and to take revenge on political opponents.[5] He feels that disagreements between political parties weakened the government.
      Wikipedia:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington%27s_Farewell_Address

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      1. I have read selected Federalist Papers (in a paperback bought eons ago; I’m sure they’re all collected in one volume somewhere) and, yes, the “Founding Fathers” were very concerned about factionalism. They even foresaw the risk of secession efforts by some states and tried to warn against said risk.

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  3. I appreciate you taking one for the team and watching the debate; your summaries are always appreciated. I anticipate today we’ll have the increasingly hysterical Chris Matthews on MSDNC fretting again about firing squads coming for him.

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  4. It goes without saying none of these musical-chairs PR shows fit the definition of a formal debate. I had no option for viewing/hearing last night’s affair; had to settle for a 3-minute video “summary” (managed to leave out Bernie!) from NY Times, to which I subscribe digitally. Bloomberg may have an ego verging on Trumpian, but I can’t possibly imagine him instituting policies as intentionally cruel and destructive to the planet as Trump’s. I don’t think we need worry about Bloomberg being on the ballot, though. Oh, I nearly forgot: Yesterday, NPR News made a big deal of promoting the results of an opinion poll allegedly showing Americans overwhelmingly reject “socialism” and adore Capitalism!! Wow, are NPR’s new virtual owners, Koch Industries and their ilk, that concerned about Bernie’s appeal?!? Has “The Twilight Zone” transported us all back to the mid-1950s??

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  5. Two Questions:
    1. When did knowing who the President of Mexico is become relevant?
    2. Now that Bloomberg has had his two hours of humiliation, unless there’s another billionaire waiting in the wings, isn’t it about time we 86’d these so-called debates?

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    1. It’s not that Klobuchar didn’t know his name. It’s that she went on Telemundo without prepping, then tried to bluff her way through the interview (but failed), then tweeted afterwards that she’d always known the president’s name — she just forgot for an instant. Right.

      She should have just admitted she forgot during the interview, then moved on. And it wouldn’t have been an issue …

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    2. Well, butsudanbill, Mexico IS a major trade partner. And of course the butt of innumerable insults from Emperor Trump. It will be interesting to see if ‘Little Mike’ comes back for another round of heavy incoming artillery. As someone (Beto O’Rourke? Julian Castro? Anybody remember them??) pointed out in one of the earliest “debates,” this is a necessary winnowing process. The surviving candidates can’t join hands, singing “Kumbaya,” and all get their names placed on the ballot in November.

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      1. I just figure by now – unless the rules get changed again to allow a new, improved, and stronger-than-dirt anti-Bernie into the mix – we know pretty much all we need to know about those still standing.
        And yes, our friends to the south are our buddies when it comes to trade, as is Vietnam (anybody know who’s riding herd over there these days?), but … well, I was about to write “but are there really people who would NOT vote for someone because they believe not knowing the name of a foreign potentate – at this stage of the process – really matters?” and then I had a vision of thousands (millions?) of people across America, leaping to their feet, rending their local PBS/NPR-affiliate t-shirts, and shouting, “How could you not know that? Everybody knows that! Oh, God, it’s the death of the republic … “

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        1. The unsettling fact looming over the Dem. race to the nomination, of course, remains the possibility that the Dem. poobahs may yet reach into their own Bag o’ Dirty Tricks to knock down a leader in popular votes in the primaries in favor of someone they deem “more electable” (i.e. Wild-Eyed Socialists need not apply!). That maneuver would, in essence, render the “debates” quite irrelevant. Shoot, why doesn’t the DNC just announce on New Year’s Day of an election year who their candidate is gonna be?? Save everybody alotta travel, wear and tear on vocal cords, etc.

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      2. From the Moon of Alabama Blog:

        Sanders Wins Democrats Primary Debate

        The various reflections of last night’s debate between Democratic party primary candidates give a consistent picture.

        Bloomberg lost. He had brought a wallet to a knife fight and made a generally bad impression. Even the news service that carries his name headlined: Bloomberg Hammered.
        Buttigieg was again exposed as the soulless fluff he is.
        Biden is frail, confused and talks too much.
        Warren gets some points for hammering Bloomberg. But that is it.
        Klobuchar gets points for hating Buttigieg but is otherwise too mechanic to attract votes.
        Sanders ably defended his positions against attacks from all sides.
        Tulsi Gabbard was unfortunately not invited.

        … [snip] …

        Still – Sanders foreign policy is probably the least aggressive in the field with the exception of probably Gabbard’s. Sanders should select her for the vice president position. As a women of color she would also tick off two now necessary categories.

        But first he will have to win the big fight to become the nominee. The powers that be will do their best to prevent that.

        I already voted (last Saturday) by mail-in ballot for Tulsi Gabbard in the California presidential primary. Until she gets back on the stage to offer something worth consideration, I’ll continue letting others absorb the barrage of unmitigated bullshit emanating from their cable-connected television devices.

        Bernie Sanders really needs to disavow this “Russia did something really bad and will do it again real soon” horse manure. If he doesn’t, winning the Presidency won’t change anything that matters for either America or the world.

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  6. Back in the 70’s there was a terrific PBS series “Civilsation: A Personal View” hosted by Kenneth Clark. In the final chapter, after looking at religion and the arts, the camera zeroed in on NYC, and Clark in voice over said the towers were cathedrals to Mammon. Whatever else one may think of that series, he got that correct.

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    1. me too, ms. jordan; astore’s exegeses ‘make my day” as well. you have our arrant and unremitting support, sir astore, and you would be my categoric candidate-of-choice as captain of the helm to steer the US’ ship of state into becalmed waters that would not be deleterious to those onboard or those swimming frantically away from dangerous waters.

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  7. I happened to catch this exchange on the “Crosstalk” video program, RT.com (February 21, 2020) – White House for sale?:

    [19:00] Zach Haller (from Seattle Washington): “… What would you say to all the disenchanted Bernie Sanders voters from 2016 that watched the primary get stolen from them. Trump has been calling that out. Trump is the only person who has been soberly commenting about how Sanders had the nomination pulled out from under him. Literally, Trump is the only person. Bernie won’t even admit it. In the debate he called it “Russia” yet again. Hillary is still parroting that lie. We all know its a lie. Does anybody reasonably think that Bernie could take on Trump while Trump is talking the truth and Bernie is lying about what happened to him?

    Did Bernie Sanders really regurgitate that stupid “Russia did something bad and someday someone will find out just what” line of unadulterated horse manure? Did he really? Did he really just hand Trump the high ground — by comparative default — as a consequence of himself taking the lowest road imaginable: staking everything on a self-infecting pack of lies? Who does he have advising him? John Podesta? Mr Pied Piper himself?

    If Bernie Sanders wishes to become President just so he can validate and re-sanctify the despicable FBI and CIA, then I don’t want him winning this election. In his own and his party’s best interests, Bernie Sanders had better jettison this entire “Russia” thing — and fast. Continuing it only serves the still undiminished political ambitions of [She’s-With-Her] the snake-haired Medusa who, by the way, has nothing but contempt and loathing for Senator Bernie Sanders who once dared to — and still does — oppose her entitled path to pathological power.

    Can Senator Sanders please get Tulsi Gabbard to explain to him how to avoid parroting loaded media sound-bites that only discredit him even as he utters their word-like sounds?

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  8. I read another Blog inhabited by Democratic Partisans for the most part. Once in a while a stray Trumpter will troll. These partisans receive their “News” from CNN and in particular MSDNC. The partisans parrot the talking points they hear 24/7/365 from Morning Joe, The Pompous Buffoon Chris Matthews or Maddow.

    The Scenario of these Democratic Partisans, perfectly parrots The Stop Bernie Movement. Biden, Amy and Mayor Wine Cellar are their choices, they see the threat of Bloomberg taking votes away from Corporate Joe, Amy and Mayor Wine Cellar.

    These Democratic Partisans view Citizens United as a way to buy elections. They have no objections to Corporate Joe’s and Mayor Wine Cellars, PACs and Super PACs. They conveniently ignore that saying, “Whose Bread I Eat, His Song I Sing”.

    Not so oddly, though they roundly condemn the Electoral College of depriving Hillary, they are perfectly comfortable with the Democratic Super Delegates tipping the scale against Bernie, the so-called adults in the room.

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    1. Mr. Bloomberg has enough personal wealth–we can be more confident of his Billionaire status than Trump’s claims to be spectacularly wealthy–to shield his ego from brickbats being hurled by his rivals for the Dem. nomination, I dare say. But is he really going to stick around, wasting his time in this foolish pursuit? I have seen some Dem. partisans posting on Facebook that they think a Bloomberg presidency would be WORSE than Trump’s!! That view I find more than a bit absurd!

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    1. My wife and I recently noticed that the former mayor of Notre Dame Campus, Platitude Pete Booty-judge, bears a striking resemblance to Mad Magazine’s iconic “What, Me Worry?” poster-boy, Alfred E. Neuman. So, thanks to Paul Street for the “Alfred E. Wine Cave” reference. I ought to thank Andrew Yang, as well, but since he recently signed up for a talking-head spot on CNN, I think I’ll wait a bit to see what paid corporate-media flack he comes to resemble: Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer.

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      1. I laughed at that too, Mike.

        If you watch Pete closely, you can see how pleased he is with himself when he utters a platitude that wins applause. He’s gotten where he is by BS’ing adults for the last two decades.

        I’ve mentored students who competed for Rhodes Scholarships, and I met one Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. The strategy is to please older adults with your winning ways while saying things they want to hear. Now that’s an ability Pete truly has: look sort of smart and involved but in safe ways that make older adults comfortable.

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  9. Just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for reading and commenting. These are crazy times, and I’d like to think this site is a small spot of relative sanity, open to free-thinkers. So thanks again.

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      1. Even the dreadfully serious NY Times can get me to laugh out loud in today’s political circus. I just looked at their homepage for first time today and was greeted by this hilarious headline (verbatim): “Russia is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Sanders in Democratic Primaries”!!! So there ya have it, folks, Bernie really is a Commie! Of course, the dandy irony is that Russia is a Wild West of Capitalism since the demise of the USSR!!

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    1. Thank YOU Prof Astore. I read your blog for the first time at antiwar.com and found your website… have followed it since then. Have learnt a lot….different perspectives and discussions, some poetry, about some commentators personal experiences, It has been a good ride.

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      1. You’re welcome. Writing is only half the fun. Comments are the other half — the exchange of views from a small group of serious adults. So keep those comments coming!

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    1. Well, a certain candidate who’s been doing quite poorly (and whose initials just might be JB!) has been desperately bringing up Obama’s supposedly magical name from the outset. You know, the guy who claims black folks adore him!!

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    1. I’m trying to make sense of the US electoral ‘logic’ and as this is my second cycle, I have made some progress. What I still don’t fathom – also having read the nybooks link – are the parameters which determine how SDE’s are attributed.
      It cannot be the number of votes, as then Bernie would have had more both in Iowa and NH. It cannot be based on personal whims of whoever distributes them (who is/are that anyway ?), as then there would be no need to have elections at all.
      Does one perhaps have to win in any given constituency, county, polling station or whatever, to be eligible ? Did Pete win in more of them, even if the total of votes for him was less ? Is it so subjective that Bernie lost his chance for an additional one in Iowa, when he explained that ‘they are not important anyway, apart for the local party chapter, deciding who will be their head etc’?
      Will be grateful for some explanation.
      NB : I once asked a friend in the US to explain American football rules to me and after more than half an hour lied ‘OK !!!, NOW I understand’ although I still had no clue, but was getting really tired. Then I was 40 years younger than I am now. So it might be better to provide me with a link with that info than wasting your own time & energy…

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    2. Great article. This passage is telling:

      Eighteen percent of the American population—on average, whiter and older than the rest of the population—can elect a majority of the Senate. If those senators are not united in their opposition to a piece of legislation, the filibuster enables an even smaller group of them, representing 10 percent of the population, to block it. Should legislation supported by a vast majority of the American people somehow make it past these hurdles, the Supreme Court, selected by a president representing a minority of the population and approved by senators representing an even smaller minority, can overturn it.

      The problem of minority rule, in other words, isn’t Trumpian or temporary; it’s bipartisan and enduring.

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      1. Time to resurrect the “Founding Fathers,” lock ’em up in a conference room and not let ’em out until they do a useful re-design?? But seriously, the flaws in “our” system (hey, no one ever asked me for MY input!) are now sticking out like the proverbial sore thumbs. Perhaps most dangerous aspect of all is that SCOTUS gets the final say on the big issues. Heaven help us if Trump gets to appoint one or more additional new members of that “august” body before his departure!!!

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