“Let’s get serious here,” a visibly frustrated Michael Bloomberg replied to Gayle King, when asked about whether he would implement his anti-obesity diktats all over the United States: “What’s right for New York City isn’t necessarily right for all the other cities. Otherwise, you’d have a naked cowboy in every city.”
The last two Democrat presidential primary debates, which were mostly reminiscent of “WrestleMania,” included feuds between Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg about who did the homework correctly. Another old man, a former vice president, was on the verge of unmindfully walking off the stage.
Also on display was Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s sheer, vicious hatred for any successful capitalist man, notable in her repeated attempts to scalp Bloomberg, so to speak. But what followed was a clash of two distinct cultures — one resurgent, the other in its last stand.
For the first time, Sen. Bernie Sanders faced serious questions and looked visibly flustered. He wasn’t used to difficult cross-questioning, and his irritated, monotonous, one-track health care and climate change talking points came out.
Bloomberg Takes on the Socialists
But it was Bloomberg who finally took up the hypocrisy of a socialist being a millionaire and owning three houses. For the first time, a candidate with a distinct 1980s Gordon Gekko persona clashed in the Democratic debate, post-Me Too.
While Republicans are used to abrasively macho leaders, the current president being an exemplary one, Democrats have given up on masculinity, and the clashes between Bloomberg and Warren were clashes of arrogance and Me Too feminism. It would be unthinkable for anyone other than Bloomberg to have the guts to say on stage to a female candidate that his female employees signed nondisclosure agreements because they hated his jokes. No one expects that devil-may-care brashness anymore in 2020, much less among the effete liberals. No wonder Bloomberg walked those comments back in the next debate.
But most importantly, Bloomberg took the battle to the socialists within the party, both the open and hidden ones. Yes, he was rusty. Yes, he has lots of baggage. Yes, he was the target, given his money and stature. But Bloomberg concentrated his message on Sanders and even uttered the one C-word no Democrat dares utter: communism, inviting groans from every candidate on stage, including the moderates.
Is the Democratic Party still welcoming to capitalism? This is a Democratic Party that is like a university student union. Here you cannot say anymore that what makes America competitive is capitalism and that Bloomberg has created more jobs with more families dependent on salaries from his organization than all the other candidates on stage combined.
How many of these candidates would affirmatively answer the question of whether they want to see the America of the future as a capitalist superpower? Bloomberg, with all his soda bans, strong law and order, and paternalistic ideas, is still at heart a pragmatic capitalist — which is anachronistic in the current Democratic Party.
Is Bloomberg the Trump of the Democrats?
I followed keenly the long, detailed Bloomberg foreign policy platform, a synthesis of the two distinct trends, a mix between the complete retrenchment and the complete internationalist schools within liberalism. He wants a “withdrawal” from Afghanistan, to continue dialogue with North Korea, and for Ukraine to be “a bridge between Russia and Europe.”
This is a marked change from the attempt to have Ukraine part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, ostensibly a cause of the major rift with Russia, as Ukraine houses Russian military supply chains. Without Ukraine, Moscow ceases to be a great power.
These instincts are distinctly Trumpian. On the other hand, Bloomberg wants to restart Obama’s deal with Iran and diffuse tensions in the Middle East, a more standard Democratic platform. But the last debate featured not a single question on foreign policy.
The reality is that there are no moderates in this Democratic Party. On one hand is the extreme Gramscian left, with identity politics, Me Too feminism, and slavery reparations talking points. On the other hand is the extreme Trotskyist left, with climate change, socialist health care, and apologias for Latin American communism. In between was a lone figure trying to portray himself as the last hope against impending socialist doom. Kyle Smith at National Review wrote something similar a few days back, that part of Bloomberg’s appeal is his outright, in-your-face brashness.
He is very much like Donald Trump, at least in that particular way. He says things that are unthinkable not only in the Democratic Party, but among the current Western sophisticates, in yoga cafes, in corporate America, in diversity universities, and in art and literature.
One of the reasons Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Boris Johnson, Narendra Modi, and other right-wingers won in recent years was psychological. These men are a reaction to the forced feminist social emasculation, a response to political correctness and liberal mores and taboos, and a throwback to an earlier, cigar-chomping, dollar-burning era.
Bloomberg is refreshing in his old-fashioned defense of capitalism and his abrasive, arrogant persona. No one likes a man who’s a spineless coward, constantly apologizing and genuflecting for everything under the sun. Did it work? We’ll have to see. This is not the Democratic Party of the 1980s and 1990s, regardless of how much Bloomberg wants to turn back time.