Citing the New York Times, the UK’s The Guardian reports that former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is contemplating entering the presidential race. Bloomberg, who left the GOP at the end of his mayoral stint, is now an independent.
According to The Guardian’s sources, Bloomberg has commissioned his own poll to determine the level of interest a possible run might generate, and will make a final decision in March, close to the filing deadline. The reason? Bloomberg, who is said to be on “cordial” terms with the Clintons, is less than impressed with Clinton’s primary performance, has deemed her continuing email woes as a flaw, and finds her fall in the Iowa polls “scary.” The Times piece quotes unnamed sources as saying that Bloomberg is willing to spend as much as $1 billion out of his estimated $37 billion fortune.
Bloomberg’s calculus for entering the fray not only proves every single point Sanders has ever made about money, billionaires and politics, but contradicts the long held views of pundits such as Paul Krugman, Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein and many others who now argue against a Sanders win of the Democratic primary because his goals are unrealistic. What would it mean to have a candidate who has vowed to work to end Citizens United in a three-way race against not one, but two billionaires?
- A three-way race between two billionaires and a representative of the proletariat, if nothing else, will provide the most powerful warning yet of how perilously close we are to losing the fight against a plutocracy.
- If Bloomberg, a plutocrat, trusts Hillary Clinton as president, but no other Democrat. what does that say about Clinton’s policies.
- If Bloomberg, who made his fortune not as a media mogul but as a Wall Street Baron, doesn’t want to risk a loss by Hillary Clinton, then what does that say about Wall Street’s control over our politics?
I have to say that the irony and spectacle of two starkly different kinds of Jews and a neo-Nazi sympathizer competing on the same stage is about as wild and Felliniesque as one can get. What would a debate look and sound like? Does Bloomberg fancy his authoritarian demeanor will eclipse Trump’s childlike expressive manner and erratic style of delivery? How would Bloomberg react, when Trump dredges up embarrassing personal anecdotes on Bloomberg to his face, only to face a formidable debate opponent in Sanders not only in his mastery of the facts and figures, but also Bloomberg’s place in history as a former Salomon Brothers trader turned media mogul and plutocrat? Bloomberg is one of Wall Street’s prime examples of the greed and hunger for power that Sanders accuses Hillary Clinton of pandering to.
A Bloomberg run would give Sanders a real life example of the worst things he’s been warning the public about for decades. He would have a live plutocrat doing exactly what Sanders has been saying plutocrats do behind the scenes to control Washington: Bloomberg running on his own dime because he is entitled to use his riches to subvert a democratic process that isn’t going his way.
Assuming Trump really does take the GOP primary and the RNC doesn’t spring some kind of last minute surprise on the realtor, and Sanders does win the Democratic nomination, then who exactly would an independent candidate pull voters from?
Conventional wisdom would have Bloomberg taking neoliberals from the Democratic party and moderates from the GOP. But at a time when voters are acutely aware of the damage Citizens United is doing and are spurning the establishment, unless Bloomberg finds a way to out-Trump Donald Trump, he will have no more appeal to the right-leaning masses than Jeb! or John Kasich have. Bloomberg left the GOP because its devolving ideology left no room for him. Bloomberg isn’t particularly well-liked on the right, especially with the NRA crowd. On the left, a Bloomberg candidacy would be ironic in that his only motivation is to swoop into the process in order to salvage a perceived failure by Clinton
The biggest and most prophetic irony of all, though is encapsulated in 21 seconds and what Elizabeth Warren said from the Senate floor last week:
The whole idea of change being too difficult was promulgated by Clinton campaign surrogates, including Paul Krugman who devoted an entire New York Times op-ed, and several blog posts to the topic. But they made Trump a mainstream media star by giving him 100% of its attention. After alternately ignoring and belittling Sanders all these months to start attacking him now, not based on actual policy analyses but doubts as to his political viability, the media is only achieving one thing: decloaking and openly showing voters just how manipulative and biased the media has become. But just as every underhanded attack by the Clinton camp has resulted in more contributions and a rise for Sanders in the polls, so has the media’s treatment of him. Sanders continues to rise both because of the media’s treatment and in spite of it.
Our collective attention has been called to the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, far more than any other billionaires these last few years. While the vast majority of these billionaires have their own self-interest as their top priority, they too are a spectrum, ranging from the Kochs and Adelson, all the way to Trump, Bloomberg and Soros. When the power is concentrated at the top and the political class answers to it, it is time for a political revolution. So, go ahead, Mr. Bloomberg. Bring it on!
Bernie Sanders appeared on ABC’s This Week. Here are video and a transcript of his appearance:
RADDATZ: Bernie Sanders with an upbeat ad, featuring Simon & Garfunkel. The Vermont senator has widened his lead over Hillary Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire, taking a new tone this weekend and shifting his focus of attack to the Republicans.
Is he already looking ahead to the general election?
Senator Sanders joins me now from Iowa.
Good morning, Senator Sanders.
“The Des Moines Register” has endorsed your opponent, Hillary Clinton, saying, “The presidency is not an entry level position.
“Whoever is sworn into office next January must demonstrate not only a deep understanding of the issues facing America but also possess the diplomatic skills that enable presidents to forge alliances to get things done.”
Even though “The Des Moines Register” has never endorsed a Democrat who has won, that seems directed at you.
SANDERS: Well, you know, I have a lot of respect for “The Des Moines Register” but I think, in every instance, we are more than capable of doing the job of President of the United States.
When we talk about foreign policy, let us be very clear, one of the candidates running voted against this disastrous war in Iraq. Go to my website, go to YouTube, find out what I said in 2002, what I feared would happen.
And it gives me no pleasure to tell you that much of what feared would happen in terms of the destabilization of the region, in fact, did happen. Hillary Clinton voted the other way.
In terms of domestic issues, the reason that our campaign is generating so much excitement is that, in fact, we are focusing on the issues the American people care about and that is the decline of the American middle class, the fact that people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. And that income inequality is sustained by a corrupt campaign finance system.
Martha, I am very proud of the fact that I am —
RADDATZ: Senator Sanders, I want to go back to what you said about foreign policy.
“The Concord Monitor” in New Hampshire is now endorsing Hillary Clinton as well, and they say, despite the fact that you made the right call in the Iraq war, you are a foreign policy naif.
SANDERS: Well, look, first thought, we are taking on the entire establishment. We are taking on the economic establishment; we’re taking on the political establishment and, all due respect, we are taking on the media establishment.
I expect that Secretary Clinton will get a lot of the endorsements from mainstream media. But I have the endorsement and I’m very proud to say of 2.5 million individual contributions to my campaign.
When people are allowed to vote, as they are in MoveOn.org, we win those votes overwhelmingly from the grassroots of America.
So, Martha, I can’t argue that the establishment is supporting Secretary Clinton. That’s the way it is. But I think the American people are saying it’s too late for the establishment.
RADDATZ: You have sounded more and more confident and aiming your remarks at Republicans, as we said. But Clinton supporters have been focusing as you as a non-viable general election candidate largely because you’re a democratic socialist. Senator Claire McCaskill saying the Republicans won’t touch him, because they can’t wait to run an ad with a hammer and sickle. Your reaction.
SANDERS: My reaction is two things. Look at every — or virtually all of the national polls that have been done, which have Bernie Sanders running against Trump, Hillary Clinton running against Trump, we run significantly better than does Hillary Clinton. We’re beating him by a wider margin.
Last NBC poll I think had us beating them by 15 points.
In New Hampshire, we’re doing even better than that. We’re doing better than Hillary Clinton against Trump here in Iowa.
Second of all, Democrats win when voter turnout is large. Republicans win when the American people are demoralized. Our campaign is exciting millions of people. We will have a large voter turnout. I think we can not only win the White House, but we can regain the Senate and win governors chairs up and down throughout this country.
So I think what this campaign is about is who is exciting the American people. I think our campaign is, Martha.
RADDATZ: Senator Sanders, you said something to your supporters yesterday that caught my ear, you quoted with pride a Wall Street Journal article calling you a viable candidate, saying it appears that we are making Wall Street a little bit nervous and that’s a good thing.
The article was quoting Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman who said the markets are unsettled because of you, a slowdown in China and geopolitical risks.
You’re laughing, but I want to know why is it a good thing that the markets are in turmoil? People have their pension funds in the market? Lots of middle class people have their 401(k)s invested in stocks. It’s not just Wall Street. Everybody is affected by this.
SANDERS: The reason that I am laughing is I fully admit to having a big ego, like many other politicians. But the idea that Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, because it has growing support all over this country, is unsettling world markets is absolutely absurd.
The point I was making is we are getting the attention of Wall Street. Wall Street’s greed and recklessness and illegal behavior drove this economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Millions of people lost their homes, their life savings and their jobs. And yes I believe that we have to break up the major financial institutions. We have to reestablish Glass-Steagall. And that we are now gaining the attention of Wall Street tells me that our campaign is doing very well.
RADDATZ: And what do you think about the possibility of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another billionaire, getting in the race?
SANDERS: Well, you know, I think it would be very interesting if Donald Trump became the Republican candidate who is a multi-billionaire, and Michael Bloomberg became an independent candidate who is a multi-billionaire. And it will tell people what I have been saying for a long time is that this country is moving away from democracy to oligarchy that billionaires are the people who are controlling our political life. That is what — that is not what, to my view, American democracy is supposed to be about, a contest between billionaires. If that takes place, I am confident that we will win it.
RADDATZ: OK. Thank you for joining us this morning, Senator Sanders, good to see you again.
SANDERS: Thank you.