Bloomy, You’re No Dem, Rivals Say in SNL-style Debate

by Heather Robinson

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg made an unimpressive debut Wednesday night on the Democrat debate stage, effectively apologizing for much of his success as a businessman and his work as an successful mayor in a debate that took me back to junior high school, watching the popular kids—or, to be more exact, the popular kid wannabes—gang up on the new kid. It was brutal.

Reportedly, Bloomberg was reluctant to enter the Presidential race because he doesn’t feel there’s a place for him in the Democratic Party. And in light of what happened on Wednesday, I can understand his hesitation.

Out of the starting gate, Sen Elizabeth Warren delivered a nasty broadside, characterizing Bloomberg as “a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse faced lesbians, and no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

Hey, was this a Democratic debate or a Saturday Night Live sketch?

Bloomy just stood there frozen, like he was afraid to say a word or make a move lest his pants fall down. And who could blame him?

At a time when straight men are viewed, in certain circles, as inherently suspect, saying or doing the wrong thing – in fact saying or doing pretty much anything not entirely neutral or meek – can make a man the target of a mob. (It almost made me nostalgic for Donald Trump’s defiant, “Only Rosie O’Donell” rejoinder in response to Megyn Kelly’s question during his first Republican debate).

But Warren wasn’t done.

“Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women, and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop and frisk,” she said. She kept hammering away, challenging Bloomberg to release women from non-disclosure agreements. (I was watching the debate with a group of liberal Democrat friends in Manhattan. One of them, founder of a successful marketing firm, made the comment that every large company has some non-disclosure agreements).

Bloomberg claimed to be on board with #MeToo, and started talking about how many women he employs, whereupon Warren jumped in, practically hissing: “I hope you hear what his defense was: ‘I’ve been nice to some women.’” The crowd roared.

In jumped Joe Biden to gang up on Bloomberg, sounding a lot like the kid kissing the teacher’s ass: “It’s easy. All the mayor has to say is, ‘You are released from the non-disclosure agreement. This is about transparency.’” Is it just me, or is it more than a touch ironic for touchy-feely/I-can’t-keep-my-hands-to myself Uncle Joe to jump on this particular bandwagon? Not for nothing, but does anyone really buy him as a feminist? Leave the feminism to the women, Uncle Joe.

When Bloomy finally spoke, it was to say, “We are not going to end these agreements because they were made consensually, and they have every right to expect they will stay private.” Whereupon Bloomy received a round of boos.

Update: as of Friday afternoon, Bloomberg has announced he will release three women from non-disclosure agreements who complained of remarks Bloomberg himself made. Big win for Lizzie Warren!

On the delicate stop-and-frisk issue, Bloomberg responded to criticism by apologizing. “The one thing that I’m really worried about, embarrassed about, is how it turned out with stop and frisk,” he said, adding that he inherited the policy. “What happened was it got out of control.” Biden claimed Bloomberg reconsidered the policy only after President Obama sent federal monitors in to evaluate it. Warren shot back: “It targeted black and brown men … You need a different apology here.”

Stop and frisk may have been excessive, and if Bloomberg believes it was, a concise apology may be in order. But this would have been a good time to point out that minorities suffer first, and disproportionately, when crime gets out of control. He did speak about his outreach to African-American and Hispanic communities. He might have added that responsible leaders in all communities need to be part of anti-crime solutions, and that he, Bloomberg, wants to be the President to unite this country – something the otherwise successful Donald Trump has failed to do. (However, he should be wary of joining the kvetchy chorus of endless Trump-bashing and instead focus on what he, Bloomberg, CAN do).

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a good night overall, but didn’t hesitate to take a pot shot at Bloomberg’s wealth, accusing him of trying to “buy out” the party, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar piled on: “I don’t think you look at Donald Trump and say, ‘I think we need someone richer in the White House.’”

One of the debate’s most SNL-style moments came when NBC moderator Chuck Todd, riffing on Sen. Sanders’ statement that “billionaires shouldn’t exist,” asked Bloomberg, “Mayor Bloomberg, should you exist?” (I’m not making this up).

For his part, Bloomie stood there and defended his right to exist.

Todd followed up, inanely, with, But “Is it too much? Should you have that much money?”

Bloomberg did have the presence to say, “Yes.” Then he said, “I’ve been very lucky, made a lot of money and I’m giving it all away to make this country better. A good chunk of it has gone to the Democratic Party.”

Maybe after last night he’ll reconsider those contributions.

In all seriousness, giving away money is nice, but Bloomberg should have added that his business has provided thousands of jobs. Memo to the Democrats: most Americans still prefer jobs and opportunities to surviving on other people’s charity, or life in a nanny state.

Bloomberg’s best moment came when he effectively called his fellow Democrats communists and pointed out that their ideas, such as requiring companies to put employees on their boards, sound extremely pie-in-the-sky, saying: “I can’t think of a way that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation. It’s ridiculous. We’re not going to throw out capitalism.”

I’d like to see more of that bold Bloomberg, along with some of the independence that enabled him to govern New York City successfully as a moderate pragmatist. He really needs to find his spine. (Love or hate him, you’ll never beat Donald Trump if you vilify him so thoroughly that you don’t understand what his supporters see in him).

One of my liberal Democrat friends remarked that Bloomberg should boldly state that he has already successfully governed a city that in many ways is like a country: millions strong, diverse in every way including racially, religiously, and ethnically, favorite destination for every kind of tourist (as well as, unfortunately, target number one for terrorists), the center of American commerce and culture.

He needs to stop acting like an apologist and rouse the great middle: moderate Democrats, who have seen their party hijacked in recent years by extremists who have led them down a dead-end path of perpetual outrage and victimhood; independent voters; and even some Trump voters. Bloomberg: show the world it is not wishy washy to be a moderate, not wimpy to be reasonable, not weak to take the middle path. In the long run, it’s usually the best way to really win at life.

Heather Robinson contributes to The New York Post, New York Daily News and others. Twitter: HE_Robinson

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