- The Washington Times
Tuesday, March 3, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Where’s Mike Bloomberg’s $60-billion plus brain?

On Monday, the night before Super Tuesday, the billionaire and former New York City mayor lands a Fox News town hall and uses it to court President Trump’s 2016 Democratic voters.


Finally.

What other path does a guy like Mr. Bloomberg have?

He’s been a lifelong Democrat except for two terms as New York’s Republican mayor and a third as an independent.

Now he’s back to being the liberal Democrat he always was, wet-kissing organized labor and financing every abortion-on-demand and gun-confiscating outfit around. As mayor, he showed how good-hearted and open-minded he is by wanting to let Muslims build a mosque at ground zero after the destruction of the Twin Towers.

But for all his ideological agility and flexibility, Mr. Bloomberg can’t summon the passion to compete with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as a radical capitalist-basher. But then no one ever accused Mr. Bloomberg of being passionate about anything.

Realistic, yes. Mr. Bloomberg knew all he’d get is an “Are you kidding me?” if he chased after the under-40s Dem voters who don’t know socialism from Socratism but like being promised “free” everything.

But here’s his problem. Former Vice President Joe Biden shares with Mr. Bloomberg what among Democrats passes for the “moderate lane.” They own that lane now that those other immoderate moderates, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, have dropped out to endorse Mr. Biden, ending any pretense that the Democratic Party is democratic.

Mr. Bloomberg gets it that Mr. Biden is nationally known and has Democratic voters of African heritage all but locked up.

But Mr. Biden been bashing the Trumpster as meanly as Mr. Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (aka Pocahontas), Mr. Buttigieg (aka the hero of Kabul) and Ms. Klobuchar.

That leaves Mr. Bloomberg an opening on the rail.

Mr. Biden when campaigning looks like he couldn’t manage a two-car funeral. When not campaigning, he looks like he couldn’t manage a two-car funeral.

Mr. Bloomberg looks like he could organize the Inchon landing while managing his firm’s 20,000 employees — humorously but efficiently.

But something is missing. The Dems have always thought the winning margin in beating the Donald lay in wrestling back some of their fellow Dems who jumped ship to swim to the Trump float in 2016.

That accounts for Mr. Bloomberg telling the Fox town hall audience that as president he would not roll back the Trump tax cuts, not under these virus-threatened economic conditions.

What? Sacrilege for the Trump-hating Democratic base, right? Not necessarily. Polls show that base has far more voters who say they would not vote for a socialist for president than who say they would.

That’s why Mr. Bloomberg decided on Monday to say he disagrees with the way Mr. Trump executes policies but doesn’t necessarily disagree with the Trump policies themselves.

You can bet agreeing with Trump policies but not always his style is where a lot of the Democratic mainstream moderates live emotionally and intellectually — certainly in many of those 14 states that will cast presidential preference ballots on Tuesday, March 3.

More than a third of the Democratic National Convention’s pledged delegates will be awarded — that’s how super this Tuesday is.

The timing for Mr. Bloomberg’s transmogrifying into a sort of Donald Trump couldn’t have been better, right?

Wrong. If Mr. Bloomberg had gotten his cynical act together a month ago and done what he did on Monday, Bernie the socialist and “Slow Joe” might be chasing him in the delegate count and in the polls.

No matter. What to my wondering eyes did appear Monday was a relaxed, smiling, in control Mr. Bloomberg.

He allowed as how he is not against the Trump Afghanistan-Taliban peace pact, under which the U.S. will close five military bases in Afghanistan and cut troop strength to 8,600 over the next 135 days.

Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Bloomberg was not pleased that we have about 12,000 troops still in Afghanistan in a war that cost us $2 trillion and 35,000 U.S. and coalition lives since the U.S. invasion post 9/11.

Supposedly unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Bloomberg is skeptical about the Taliban’s faithfulness to any pact and skeptical too about the way Mr. Trump came up with the agreement.

But then if your name’s Bloomberg, you’ve got to have some separation from the Donald if you want to be your party’s standard-bearer in the ultimate matchup of billionaires this fall.

Mr. Bloomberg did find more ways — awkward, infelicitous and just plain dumb — to stick it to Mr. Trump.

The former New York mayor said leading a city, a company or a country means being part of something that is a four-letter word: “team”; but, said Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Trump spells “team” with one letter: “I.”

Whatever Mr. Bloomberg has an ear for, it’s not humor or clever repartée.

Again sort of sounding like Mr. Trump, Mr. Bloomberg said he’s not for keeping U.S. troops everywhere all the time, but a president has to consult his military advisers on how many troops should withdraw and how quickly.

And, according to this revised and improved candidate Bloomberg, you have to be careful with the military because the generals will always say we have to stay wherever we have our troops deployed.

Mr. Bloomberg, who performed as if he were finally over the mumbles and stumbles of his early outings, also firmly agreed with Mr. Trump that China sucker punches us on intellectual property theft and on unfair trade.

Extraordinarily, he even agreed with the Donald that that’s a “little bit our fault in past.”

So where’s this Phoenix-rise from the ashes of his opening performances leave Mr. Bloomberg and the rest of the field?

Quick answer: trudging the best path for Mr. Bloomberg but almost surely too late.

You could probably stop and frisk in 10 minutes all the Democrats who saw Mr. Bloomberg respond to sharp questions from Fox’s “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier and “The Story” anchor Martha MacCallum on Monday.

That leaves him reliant on the multimillion-dollar TV ads that the Bloomberg operation bought in the 14 states.

If they don’t get him the minimum 15 percent of the vote in each state that’s needed to claim delegates, then it really is a Crazy Bernie-Slow Joe contest all the way to Milwaukee.

Psst. It is.

And finally this: Asked if he had to choose between Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump for president, Mr. Bloomberg said: “I have said I would vote for Sanders. I would not be happy doing it.”

I didn’t believe my ears the first time I heard it and went back to catch it online.

But yes, Mr. Bloomberg said in effect the the current president, a Republican, would be the better choice than the front-running Democrat named Sanders.

Not an everyday thing, having a $60-billion liberal Democrat agree with a penurious conservative like me and with the billionaire conservative in his fourth year in the Oval Office.

And looking like he’ll be there for another four years.


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