Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg Drops Out, Demonstrating the Limits of Money and the Perils of Arrogance

The former New York City mayor has never been good at concealing his conviction that he is smarter and better than the rest of us.


"Why don't they coalesce around me?" former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked yesterday before the wildly disappointing Super Tuesday performance that led him to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination today. Bloomberg won the caucuses in American Samoa but fell far short of victory everywhere else after spending half a billion dollars of his own money on a quixotic quest to replace former Vice President Joe Biden as the moderate alternative to an avowed democratic socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.).

Today Bloomberg endorsed Biden in a gracious statement acknowledging that "a viable path to the nomination no longer exists," calling Biden "the candidate with the best shot" at defeating Donald Trump, and praising "his decency, his honesty, and his commitment to the issues that are so important to our country." But Bloomberg never would have entered the race last November if he thought Biden was up to the task, and the chutzpah embodied in his strategy of skipping the early contests and debates, flooding the airwaves and internet with ads, and swooping in to rescue a party he joined less than two years ago goes a long way toward explaining why primary voters found him so unappealing.

Anyone who wants to be president almost certainly has an inflated sense of his own competence and wisdom. That is especially true for someone like Bloomberg, a remarkably successful entrepreneur who became the world's ninth-richest person by providing value to consumers and erroneously thought his skills as a businessman made him especially qualified to boss people around. But good politicians are skilled at concealing their arrogance, recognizing that voters may find it off-putting. Bloomberg has never been good at that.

This is a man who devoted much of his time as mayor to berating poor people for their unhealthy habits, a condescending paternalism epitomized by his extralegal attempt to ban the sale of large sugary beverages. He defended that crusade in embarrassingly grandiose terms: "We have a responsibility as human beings to do something, to save each other, to save the lives of ourselves, our families, our friends, and all of the rest of the people that live on God's planet." Bloomberg, who called protecting people from their own bad habits "government's highest duty," sincerely thought he was saving the world, one slightly smaller soda at a time.

This is a man so convinced that he was uniquely qualified to run New York's government that he pushed through a legal change allowing him to serve a third term, then backed legislation reimposing the two-term limit. "Bloomberg thinks that being able to serve three terms in office is a good idea—just not for anyone else," The New York Times noted at the time.

This is a man who in 2001 cheerily admitted that he had smoked marijuana and enjoyed it, then presided over a dramatic surge in arrests of cannabis consumers. Last year Bloomberg called legalizing cannabis "perhaps the stupidest thing we've ever done." Once he decided to run for president, he wanted Democratic voters, three-quarters of whom support legalization, to forget about his record on this issue. "Putting people in jail for marijuana," he declared, is "really dumb."

This is a man who either did not know or did not care that the "stop, question, and frisk" program he championed as a way of deterring young black men from carrying guns, which at its peak subjected overwhelmingly innocent people to 685,000 humiliating police encounters in a single year, was blatantly unconstitutional. That program, like Bloomberg's panoply of paternalistic "public health" prescriptions, reflected his unshakable confidence that he knows what's best, even when the supposed beneficiaries of his policies vehemently disagree. Bloomberg doggedly defended stop and frisk for years after leaving office, then abruptly reversed his position the week before he officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign, recognizing that the policy was unpopular with today's Democratic primary voters.

Bloomberg thus began his presidential campaign on a false note, an awkward position for a politician vying to replace a president who can barely open his mouth without prevaricating. He compounded the dishonest tone of his campaign with a Super Bowl ad that was built around a lie about "children" killed by "gun violence." The ad, which presented Bloomberg as a brave champion of public safety who is not afraid to take on "the gun lobby," was also misleading in a subtler way. As David Harsanyi noted at National Review, the resources Bloomberg has devoted to promoting new firearm restrictions dwarf what the National Rifle Association spends to resist those policies.

Truth aside, the Super Bowl spot was compelling. But the same could not be said of many other ads that Bloomberg bombarded us with, which Democratic strategist Elizabeth Spiers described as "mediocre messaging at massive scale." Whenever Bloomberg himself spoke, he came across as wooden and decidedly uncharismatic. While viewers might very well have agreed with his critique of Trump, that did not mean they saw Bloomberg the way he saw himself: as the guy with the best chance of defeating the president. Doubts on that score surely were not assuaged by Bloomberg's surprisingly inept performance during the first debate in which he participated.

Only yesterday, The New York Times was marveling at Bloomberg's campaign organization, which hired more than 2,400 people, "opened more than 200 offices from Maine to California," "blanketed the airwaves with half a billion dollars in ads and paid social media influencers to spread his message," "deployed new artificial intelligence technology" to "adjust his message in real time as issues like the coronavirus outbreak erupted," and "tapped into the political networks of mayors in major cities like Houston and Memphis, who helped Mr. Bloomberg fill his rallies with prominent local politicians and pastors." This sophisticated operation was all the more impressive because it had been set up so quickly: "What other campaigns took more than a year to build, with visits to fish frys in Iowa and cable news studios, the Bloomberg campaign did over the three months from Thanksgiving to Presidents' Day."

But the Times also conceded that "there are those who find [Bloomberg] unappealing," which turned out to be an obstacle that no amount of money could overcome. The most salutary aspect of Bloomberg's campaign is that it refuted once again the main premise of attempts to protect democracy by restricting speech. Even for a candidate who can far outstrip his competitors' spending by shelling out less than 1 percent of his personal fortune, money can't buy you love.

NEXT: Libertarian Super Tuesday: Big Night for Jacob Hornberger, NOTA; John McAfee Drops Out and Backs Vermin Supreme

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  1. “the Perils of Arrogance”

    Wait and see…if he gets a cabinet post under President Biden he’ll have the last laugh. Well, not the *very* last laugh, but last as far as current politics are concerned.

    1. “Wait and see…if he gets a cabinet post under President Biden he’ll have the last laugh. ”

      He doesn’t care about a cabinet post. He’s trying to protect his money from an annual 8% Sanders Wealth tax. The money he spent on the campaign was chump change and if he wasn’t so arrogant he wouldn’t have tried to run himself.

    2. Im thinking about Ralph’s laugh from the Simpsons. “Heh heh!”

      1. I think you mean Nelson Muntz’s laugh.

  2. “money can’t buy you love”

    But contra the Beatles, there are those who want his money.

    1. >>contra the Beatles

      there’s one for you, nineteen for me … ’cause I’m the Taxman!

      1. Money don’t get everything it’s true
        What it don’t get, I can’t use

      2. should five percent appear too small,
        be thankful I don’t take it all!
        ’cause I’m the Taxman! (yeah, I’m the Taxman.)

        If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
        If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
        If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat
        If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

        1. Haha. Proof that those hippies had at least one lucid moment before they got too stoned to write a good song.

  3. Let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Bloomberg.

    1. He’s not even tall enough to be a good doorstop!

      1. Little enough to ride for free? Little enough to sit in your knee?

  4. nobody as obnoxious as “your Big Gulp is too big” can carry a national audience.

  5. A quibble…

    Lauding Bloomberg for being able to set up a nationwide campaign organization in 3 months is a bit goofy.

    He has had a permanent presidential campaign for the better part of a decade. My neighbor worked for his presidential campaign a couple of years ago, before leaving to join Biden’s campaign almost 2 years ago.

    So he certainly had infrastructure in place and has been spending money on this project for quite a long while before declaring his candidacy. Years, in fact.

    Second, you give me a half a billion dollars and I’ll guarantee I can set up a pretty sizeable organization too. There are loads of wanna-be politicos running around who do campaigning as a profession. All ya gotta do is cut them a check and they are magically loyal to you.

    1. THIS. The hard part of politics is raising money. If you have a limitless supply of money, setting up a national campaign is pretty easy.

      1. Turns out name recognition is what is really important. So Biden and Trump has name recognition so they didn’t need money.

      2. Ross Perot did it in a few weeks. No wait, that was the volunteers.

  6. Bloomberg is the embodiment of the Dem establishment in much the same way Jeb Bush was the embodiment of the Republican establishment before Trump. What does Bloomberg actually stand for other than his own desire for power? Nothing. Every position he takes amounts to at best some kind of symbolic action to solve whatever problems he claims exist. It is all symbolism and rationalization for giving him power.

    This is why Bernie is doing so well even though he is nuts. Nuts though Bernie is, he takes the claims that the Democratic Party makes seriously and offers actual solutions to the problems the party claims to exist. There is nothing symbolic about Bernie. We are not banning big sodas to do something about obesity, Bernie will just rational all of the food and control what people eat.

    As crazy as Bernie is, he offers something. And that will beat “vote for me because I want power” every time.

    1. Well said, sir.

      Bloomberg never even attempted to offer anything remotely of value to the voters. Too statist for the right, not woke enough for the left.

      His conflicting stance on gun control is a perfect example.

      “There will be no more guns in private hands. But, there will also be no socialism.” So, naturally, the Democrats looked at him askew and asked: “Then why are you proposing to ban guns?”

      1. His position on the economy seemed to be “we will have socialism to the full extent possible as long as it doesn’t involve taking any of mine or my friends in the tech and banking world’s money”.

    2. Well Bloomber was almost good enough for Gillespie.

      1. And he was also the McArdle Suderman dream candidate.

        1. Libertarian moment!

    3. “…Every position he takes amounts to at best some kind of symbolic action to solve whatever problems he claims exist. It is all symbolism and rationalization for giving him power…”

      One recent ad had him ‘reuniting’ the ‘polarized’ US.
      That ‘polarization’ is a result of the left’s adolescent whining about losing an election, so the solution is to elect them?
      Fuck ’em; better they grow up and admit they lost an election.

    4. Bernie’s support has eroded…turns out half his support in 2016 was simply anti-Hillary voters.

      1. And now he has his own anti-Bernie voters.

    5. Mini-Mikey has the charisma of a cold, dead, slimy, stinking fish. That is what made him successful in business and an abject failure in politics.

  7. And, yet, for roughly one-hundred thousand dollars, nefarious Russian trolls were able to exploit targeted ads on social media and swung the entire 2016 election in favor of Trump whereas Bloomberg’s six-hundred million dollars attempt at election interference got him nowhere.

    Putin must be shitting his pants … from laughing so hard.

    1. Yeah, if Bloomberg was so smart he would have hired the Russian trolls to run his campaign with an unlimited budget, everyone else would have been helpless before such an onslaught.

      1. I know I’d’a voted for him!

    1. Remember when Bugs Bunny called Napoleon ‘Nappy’? That’s Mini-Mike. L’il Napoleonic complex.

      Wow. He basically said ‘fuck you’. I’m glad people let him have it.

      Also. What ‘studies’ Nappy? Up here, the Auditor-General of Canada declared the infamous gun registry to be a waste of $2 billion with little to no results.

      Gun control doesn’t work. At least not as intended or the way they think it could or should. All it does is tip the scale in favour of the bad guys and tells the people ‘don’t worry. We got your back with the cops’.

    2. I’m rich and get to have a gun and your not so you don’t get to have a gun is essentially what he said. the second amendment and all other laws are not just for the rich

      1. I’m rich and get to have a gun and your not so you don’t get to have a gun is essentially what he said. the second amendment and all other laws are not just for the rich”

        It’s the Hollywood version. I would never carry a gun, they’re dangerous. Of course, my security personnel carry guns, but they’re professionals. We just can’t have armed Proles.

        1. “Of course, my security personnel carry guns, but they’re professionals.”

          Yeah, we know they have a level of training and discipline that civilians can’t match. For instance according to the Nation cops kill an average of 25 dogs a day. That’s just one indicator of there level of professionalism.

  8. Aside from being that really uncool grandmother who doesn’t let you do anything “bad” for you, Bloomberg performed a valuable service by campaigning. He showcased a few things that need to be addressed:

    1. There are many Democrats who are statists.
    2. There are many moderate Democrats who despise socialism so much that they would support Bloomberg. Let’s not kid around, he made a lot of great points about free markets and definitely hurt Sanders and Warren. He attacked them far more than Biden or Buttigieg did.
    3. There are a lot of Democrats who want someone like Bloomberg. I’m not defending his policies, but his debate style was very different. He didn’t always explain very well, but I noticed he had the same approach. He addressed questions directly, discussed something that he did as mayor to deal with that issue in NYC, and claimed that it worked. Most of the time he was just riding off the coattails of free enterprise, but that’s not the point. I appreciated his style of answering because out of all the candidates, he was the only one where I could clearly tell someone else after the debate exactly what he would do if elected.
    4. He made the truthiest statement of the Democrat primary cycle; none of these Democrats can beat Trump. They’re going to be demolished by him. Bloomberg wouldn’t get the job done either, but the other candidates should copy his strong points ASAP if they want to win.

    1. Oh, and before I forget, he let out that hilarious slip that he bought these candidates previously. The mask slipped really hard with that one and completely shattered the illusion that any of these people are genuine.

  9. But good politicians are skilled at concealing their arrogance, recognizing that voters may find it off-putting.

    Voters value sincerity, so once you can learn to fake that you’ve got it made. But we must not have very many good politicians these days, many of them are no longer even making any attempt to disguise how little they think of the average voter, at least the ones on their opponents’ side. You know damn well these candidates are all thinking the same thought as they’ve withdrawn from the race – “The public has spoken, the ignorant bastards”.

  10. He went from “I can beat Trump” to “I’m saving AMERICA!!!” in 2 months.
    Nobody saluted when *that* went up the flag pole…

  11. Good riddance asshole.

    Go back to your billionaire bunk and leave free people alone.

  12. “mediocre messaging at massive scale.”

    Nailed it.

  13. Bloomberg is still arrogant, he just thinks voters are stupid now.

    1. He always saw the prols as stupid and only good for doing his bidding and performing menial tasks. Damned serfs are just too uppity.

    2. well, he sort of has a point on that one

  14. Please…he’s going to dump $2 billion into the Biden campaign in exchange for the promise of getting to be the power behind the throne because Biden’s too far gone mentally to actually do anything in the job. It’s Bloomberg’s approach to buying his way into power…he’s too unlikable to win, so he’s just going to let the amiable and incompetent puppet win and then pull his strings from the background because he bailed the guy out financially.

    It’s the variation Hillary Clinton would have pulled if she wasn’t obsessed with the validation of being President.

    1. That is a very disturbing, all the more so for being plausible, theory.

      1. The number one issue for Biden and Bloomberg is keeping China happy. Ever notice the pains that Bloomberg’s taken to not label Xi as a dictator? He’s not doing that because he’s stupid…he’s doing that because he wants to stay on the guy’s good side. Biden’s family took a billion dollar bribe from Xi, so you can bet they want to stay bought.

        And if you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, trade’s not the only area where the Trump administration has been a threat to China…they’re going all-out on attacking China’s espionage apparatus in the U.S. From officially designating China’s propaganda outlets as foreign missions to cracking down on the river of dirty money flowing into academia (where they were pirating defense and technology research).

        The establishment wing of the Democratic Party is very much in China’s pocket…and Xi wants a return on his investment.

        1. Soooo, basically Trump does need four more years. Turkey, Iran and China. Those are the main threats at the moment.

          Xi Winnie the Pooh. I wrote that just to piss him off.

      2. Hell, they just found out that the head of CalPERS (the biggest public employee pension program in the country) has been funneling taxpayer money to fund China’s defense industry, and the federal government is now poking their nose into that.

        You think Xi wants four more years of Trump? Hell to the no…Trump realizes *exactly* what China’s been up to, and he’s spent the last four years kicking their legs out from under them and going after all their secret projects in the U.S. economy. Xi wants a bought-and-paid-for patsy in the White House, just like he figured he’d have with Hillary.

        1. Sorry, just realized I posted all of these one sub-thread above where they should have been. 🙂

        2. So basically the democrats are the traitors I’ve always said they were?

    2. And if he wins you can absolute bet that issue number one will be redoing the China trade agreement in a manner that Xi finds far more agreeable. The Democrat establishment made too much money from Chinese bribes to not reward their benefactor if they regain power, after Trump spent the last four years sinking their Potemkin village of an economy.

    3. I suspect this is correct. Bloomberg’s primary goal is to beat Trump. It’s a personal thing. If he can’t do it he’ll try to make sure Biden does.

    4. I can see Bloomberg trying a back door way into power.

      He’s power hungry for its own sake.

  15. Apparently, there’s quite an infrastructure there to be inherited. Historically, the nobility have had many motives for raising armies.

  16. “The former New York City mayor has never been good at concealing his conviction that he is smarter and better than the rest of us.”

    I love the lack of self-awareness.

  17. That’s why it’s stupid to rate the candidates based on how much money they raise (or spend from their own bank account). Most people don’t watch TV commercials, they go get a sandwich. Even if they watch it, you can buy all the airtime you want but it doesn’t make your past go away.

    1. I always wonder just how effective political ads are. Maybe you’ll get the odd person who will look at one and go do additional research and perhaps learn the politician is full of shit.

      Most probably just assume they’re being lied to and take it with a grain of salt. People squawk a lot about political advertising yet it probably amounts to nothing more than the promotional bag of coupons you get in the mail. And we all know what people do with that.

  18. There is only one place where anyone gives a damn about New York City and that would be New York City. A population that has no clue and are as backwards as they come but think they and that city are the best thing since who fucking cares and god I am tired of hearing about LA and NYC.

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