In the land of political toadstools, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is a giant. Even without a box to stand on behind the debate podium.
But, boy, was that a shootout Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
Welcome, Mr. Bloomberg, to the 2020 presidential campaign that you are supposed to salvage for Democrats.
It was almost painful to watch all the blows landing on the bewildered Mr. Bloomberg, the savior with the invisible campaign. Last night, Mr. Bloomberg was the Incredible Shrinking Candidate.
Which is a really terrible thing when you start out so tiny.
The whole debate offers an astonishing indictment of the Democratic Party that a guy like Mr. Bloomberg can rocket to the top of the heap without a single day of actual campaigning and in spite of his political record.
Just a few elections back, he endorsed President George W. Bush, a Republican, for reelection. Heck, Mr. Bloomberg himself was a Republican more recently than that.
And in 2012, Mr. Bloomberg begrudgingly endorsed President Obama, a Democrat, for reelection just days before the election. Today, of course, Mr. Bloomberg is running tens of millions of dollars worth of ads claiming he was a crucial right-hand man for Mr. Obama during his presidency.
To understand just how devastating this crackup of the Democratic Party is, consider this: The only candidate other than Mr. Bloomberg who has a shot at the nomination refuses to actually join the Democratic Party. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a “democratic socialist.”
Even now, since Mr. Bloomberg officially switched his party registration to “Democrat,” he is a curious candidate for the party to run against President Trump in November.
First is his towering arrogance. In a memo released by his campaign this week, Mr. Bloomberg’s staff wags its finger at all the actual Democrats in the race and says they must abandon their own campaigns to make way for Mr. Bloomberg.
Of former Vice President Joe Biden (Mr. Obama’s actual right-hand man during his presidency), Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign officials warned that “his continued presence in the race — along with that of [Pete] Buttigieg, and [Amy] Klobuchar — will siphon votes away from the best performing Sanders alternative (Mike Bloomberg) and increase the likelihood of a Sanders blowout.”
This from a guy who has earned exactly ZERO delegates, lecturing four people who have at least proved they can win a delegate.
In his first words during his first live appearance in a presidential debate, he declared that Mr. Sanders — the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination — will never beat Mr. Trump in the general election.
And then there was the rest of the debate. It was almost like Mr. Bloomberg joined the stage to give Mr. Biden a hand. I mean, next to Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Biden came off like a brain surgeon.
It was so bad that Joe Biden could actually turn around and win South Carolina next week. All thanks to Mike Bloomberg.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @charleshurt on Twitter.
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