It was interesting to consider that just as the debate was going on, news was emerging that Bernie Sanders had thought about primarying Obama in 2012. And the debate dwelt upon the fact that Bloomberg had supported George Bush in 2004. Add that up and you could conclude from the two apparent frontrunners, Bernie and Bloomie, that the Democratic Party is falling apart before our eyes.
It is being attacked by a non-Democrat seriously at odds with the Democratic Party (Bernie) and a former Republican seriously at odds with Democratic dogma (Bloomberg). Maybe this is the and, or the whimper, by which a party ends?
It’s also increasingly clear that we have a replay of the 2016 Republican primary, where one candidate with an unshakeable 25% of the party (Trump) is able to prevail against the crowded field of mainstream candidates, none of whom can dominate the field and few of whom are willing to bow out in time to fend off the putsch. Instead the moderates on that Las Vegas stage, goaded by the questioners, get more desperate, more angry, more prosecutorial, and so focused on attacking Bloomberg with cheap shots and signals to the Democratic orthodoxy that they neglect to project a winning persona. I thought Warren showed her law school fangs, and Buttegieg his bratty smarts. Biden and Klobuchar at least showed some heart and emotional resonance, though too defensive.
In the set-em-up/knock-em-down pattern of the media, Bloomberg will now be treated as an exploded cigar. (And Biden as a comeback kid.) But here’s one sneaky thing about Mayor Mike’s appeal. When he is attacked for being tough on crime, unsentimental about minorities, macho about women, proud of his money, and a New York street fighter (as when he asked the other Senatorial candidates who actually passed all the bad laws they were excoriating), I can imagine that some of this goes over well with swing voters and white males (even if subliminally). In some ironic and unexpected way, Bloomberg for all his Manhattan swagger may actually be the Democratic candidate that most appeals to the forgotten heartland once-Obama/sorta-with-Trump mentality.
Sad, as Trump would say. But, as Bloomberg would say, Tough, but that’s the way it is.