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Experience Sanders Couldn’t Buy — Even With Bloomberg’s Money

Mike Bloomberg was elected New York mayor two months after the outrage of Sept. 11, 2001. He took over a city reeling with grief and suffering economic losses tied to the terrorist attacks. Rather than lay off public workers who had performed gallantly in the crisis, he raised taxes on the well-to-do.

The conservative media beat him up with their usual argument that tax hikes kill off business. The opposite happened. The city grew new veins. Bloomberg led this revival with grit and smarts, not his personal wealth.

That’s what Bloomberg should be talking about and everyone else should be hearing. Bloomberg must explain that he brings to the table an experience and success in public service unmatched by any other candidate.

A New York mayor must manage the nation’s largest city, a cauldron of races and ethnicities. That’s why it is called the second toughest job in America. Bloomberg was elected to it three times.

There is something perverse about Bernie Sanders accusing Bloomberg of racism. The ’60s was a time of rising crime, racial tension and white flight (followed by black middle-class flight) out of the cities. In 1968, Sanders joined a liberal white flight to the whitest state, Vermont.

He and other ex-New Yorkers could hang around Burlington coffee shops and plan a socialist utopia without having to deal with angry black people. (Cameo appearances at civil rights marches did not hide that fact.)

Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy — for which he has apologized — was a great mistake because it mostly swept up black and Latino men simply going about their business. But it was intended to take guns off the streets in a city where up to 96 percent of the shooting victims were black or Latino.

Sanders voted against the Brady bill five times. Consider the racial implications of his saying that he opposed gun control because guns weren’t a problem in Vermont.

Bloomberg’s activism in this area has won him the endorsement of prominent African Americans. One is Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), who lost her 17-year-old son to gun violence. A Democrat, McBath made headlines in 2018 by flipping the suburban Atlanta seat once occupied by Newt Gingrich. Hers is the sort of district that would be imperiled were Sanders at the top of the ticket.

I happen to think that mass extinction as the Earth burns up is a bigger issue than some boneheaded comments Bloomberg may have made in the pre-“Me Too” era. When President Donald Trump said he’d pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, Bloomberg was the American voice assuring our allies that American cities, states and businesses would take over from Washington and meet the goals. He has helped lead that effort.

Sanders is the only Democrat to oppose a tax on carbon, widely considered one of the essential tools for reducing emissions. Canada, Western Europe and all of Scandinavia have put prices on carbon. So have California and nine states in the Northeast.

Bloomberg is right that he’s the only candidate to have started a business, actually a good thing. His fortune made selling data to the financial industry, Bloomberg knows where the money comes from and how to tax it. Wall Street has expressed shock at his proposals to tax financial transactions, toughen stress tests for banks and so on.

Bloomberg’s bottom line is that he left moneymaking to pursue a life of doing the really hard stuff in public service. Populist ranting can be entertaining, and Sanders is good at it. But his bottom line is having accomplished almost nothing in his 29 years as a professional politician in Washington.

Clearly, Bloomberg has strengths that Sanders couldn’t buy, even with Bloomberg’s money.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

How To Lose 50 States

Easy. Nominate Bernie Sanders. I’ve been through my share of blowouts. I was a kid when George McGovern won Massachusetts — and nowhere else. I was in Florida working for Jimmy Carter (on loan from Ted Kennedy’s office) when we lost not only the White House but also the Senate majority in Ronald Reagan’s first landslide. I was in Minnesota waiting to see if Fritz Mondale would carry any states. Two weeks before the 1988 election we were going to lose, with the help of then-Gov. Jim Hunt from North Carolina, I spread money all over the country for down-ticket races so Michael Dukakis didn’t carry down the Democratic Party when he lost 40 states. I was on television looking at the exit polls from Ohio when I realized they were all wrong, and that John Kerry would lose. I canceled my law and politics class in 2016, the day before the election, because I didn’t want to lie to my students and tell them that I thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.

I understand why Democratic ideologues are voting for Bernie Sanders. I used to be one myself. But losing one election after another, two to Reagan, one to George H.W. Bush, two to George W. Bush and, of course, one to Donald Trump, is painfully instructive. This is not horseshoes. This is not a battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. It is a battle to beat a dangerous president.

And the truth is that the only Democrat with a chance of doing that is Mike Bloomberg.

I never thought I’d say this, but I will: I will do anything to help Bloomberg win. Which is to say, I will do anything to beat Trump.

Bernie Sanders would lose in a landslide. So would Elizabeth Warren — if a senator from Massachusetts runs fourth in neighboring New Hampshire, he or she will do even worse in a general election. Her candidacy is all but over.

Pete Buttigieg is the brightest star on the Democratic side. If he were 10 years older and didn’t look like Beaver Cleaver, I’d be ringing doorbells. Of course there are folks who would not vote for a gay man with a wonderful husband and a brilliant military record. That’s not my problem. I’ll vote for him in the future. I believe he will be president someday. But not in 2020.

And then there’s Joe Biden, who lost to Amy Klobuchar, a senator who is known on Capitol Hill as the most impossible person to work for. She might get away with it if she were a man (see, e.g., Donald Trump), but a woman who talks about which bills she has passed on the stage with Donald Trump, with billions against her? I don’t think so. Actually, I’ve yet to hear a pundit or a columnist or an independent pollster even make the case.

Former Vice President Biden is a fine man. I have always liked him. He has survived hardships that I could not endure. He would be a fine president. But he has always been a terrible candidate, and this year is no exception.

Which leaves the one candidate Trump is rightly afraid of. Trump claims to be a billionaire, even if it’s not actually money he made. Mike Bloomberg is THE real deal. He makes Trump look like a piker. Which, of course, drives Trump crazy.

There was a Bloomberg event in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Hundreds of Clinton and Obama Democrats were there. People weren’t asked for money. For most of my friends, it was the first time attending such an event. They were not there because they are lifelong Bloomberg supporters. They were there because, as Vince Lombardi, the famous Green Bay Packers coach said, winning is the only thing.

And the only Democrat who can beat Trump is Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg-Buttigieg — that’s my ticket. Trump has done enough damage. Given how strong the economy is, Trump should be a shoo-in. He isn’t because he’s Trump, a hopeless narcissist; a leader so unreliable and unpredictable that leaders across the world find him terrifying; a man who managed to escape impeachment when he shouldn’t have and is now busy punishing a war hero who dared to speak the truth.

We have exactly one choice. Or we lose. And if Sanders is at the top of the ticket, it won’t just be the presidency we lose.

Hillary Clinton is wrong: Plenty of people like Sanders. He has accomplished a great deal politically, energizing young people, strengthening the progressive movement, giving voice to concerns that millions share. But he can’t win a general election. I’m not even sure he could carry Massachusetts.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Warren Rakes GOP Fatcat Adelson In His Own Vegas Newspaper

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

On Wednesday night, Democrats held their ninth debate on the way to picking a nominee to take on Donald Trump this fall. Based on social media reactions, it was crystal clear Elizabeth Warren won the night—and it started in the first two minutes when she went straight at Mike Bloomberg with a punch he never saw coming: “I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump.”

You can watch that clip again below, but with that remark, Warren was out of the gate and she never relented.

Time after time, Warren took Bloomberg to task for his harmful, racist policies as New York City’s mayor, his defense of racist bank lending practices, and his use of nondisclosure agreements to protect himself and others at his company who have discriminated, sexually harassed, or worse. Warren struck so many blows against Bloomberg that toward the end of the debate, someone edited Bloomberg’s Wikipedia page to note the date of his death and the cause of death: Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Even as people are still talking about the strength of Warren’s debate performance, particularly against Bloomberg, she’s not sitting back. In fact, she went on another offensive in Las Vegas, this time taking direct aim at billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who has been one of the biggest Republican Party donors in history. Adelson is reportedly donating $100 million to Donald Trump and Republicans this year alone. Along with the Robert and Rebekah Mercer and Charles Koch, Adelson and his billionaire counterparts essentially own the Republican Party at every level. They finance Republicans from your local city council all the way to the White House, and they do it because it benefits them financially. Republican policies, which are often written and directed by the aforementioned, directly benefit these billionaires.

Look no further than the tax cut Republicans voted on in the middle of the night. The 2017 tax bill gave billions in tax cuts to the uber-wealthy, forcing cuts to services meant for those who need assistance the most. Although Republicans always feign surprise that the tax cuts didn’t pay for themselves, make no mistake about it: For them, the resulting cuts in services are a benefit, not a glitch. As Republican activist Grover Norquist once said of the federal government, “I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

So how did Warren go after Adelson this morning? By taking out a full-page ad in the The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the largest newspaper in Las Vegas, which Sheldon Adelson purchased in 2016. In the ad, Elizabeth Warren made the case for her wealth tax, noting Adelson would have to pay $2.3 billion in taxes in the first year alone. Warren’s ad further notes how this money would be reinvested to help everyday Americans by canceling student loan debt, investing in childcare to help working parents, and much more. Nevada reporter Jon Ralston, who was a panelist in Wednesday night’s debate, noted Warren’s “chutzpah” for taking aim at Adelson in his own hometown and in the pages of his own newspaper.

Will We Like Mike?

In the seven presidential elections since 1992, the Republican presidential nominee has won the popular vote exactly once. The lone GOP candidate to receive a majority of the national vote was George W. Bush in 2004. Bush’s election-day victory over Democrat John Kerry, who had, in most observers’ views, “won” the debates between the two, was explained by the respected Democratic pollster Peter Hart: “Voters preferred I Like over IQ.”

One test of deciding between presidential nominees is, “Who would you rather have a beer with?” which is another way of asking which White House challenger the voter personally likes more than the other. In short, our ballot for president is the most “personal” vote we Americans cast. Almost always, we pick the candidate with whom we are more comfortable and, more significantly, the candidate whose judgment and character we think we could depend upon in a personal crisis.

As evidence of the weight of the “I like” factor in presidential voting, let’s look at recent contests: In 2012, Barack Obama, the winner, was rated 52 percent personally favorable by voters, while Mitt Romney’s scores were 47 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable. In 2008, Americans had a rare positive choice. In the last Gallup poll before election day, John McCain was given a favorable rating by 57 percent of Americans and was barely eclipsed by Barack Obama’s 61 percent favorable score. In 2004, winner George W. Bush was 53 percent favorable among voters on election day, while John Kerry’s numbers were at 47 percent – 51 percent. In 1992 and 1996, voters liked Democrat Bill Clinton more than they liked both then-President George H. W. Bush and Sen. Bob Dole.

Of course, the outlier election was 2016, when both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump received historically low favorability scores. About one in five voters rated both candidates unfavorably but, when forced to choose between the two, voted for Trump with 3-2 odds.

But what about the 2020 outsider who’s on our living rooms TVs at every timeout of every game, at every commercial break between weather reports, news coverage and even during the Super Bowl? Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an authentic billionaire, is spending at a rate unprecedented in American politics. And it is paying off. In most recent national polls, Bloomberg — on the strength of his wall-to-wall media campaign — has risen to double digits and as high as third place in some surveys.

We know that Michael Bloomberg has supported and spent generously to back candidates and initiatives that reflect his own priorities of gun control and climate change. In the eyes of some Democrats, Bloomberg’s political history — his quarter-million-dollar gift to South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham; the more than $11 million the mayor donated in 2016 to Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, whose narrow win secured Mitch McConnell as senate majority leader; and his endorsement of George W. Bush for reelection — suggest his commitment to the Party in 2020 is more convenience than conviction.

But we do not know who Mike Bloomberg really is. Does he have a temper or a sense of humor? Can he laugh at himself? Would we want him as a neighbor? Can he personally ask the machinist in Dayton and her husband for their votes? Or is he a billionaire who, like so many people with money, is most comfortable surrounded by high-priced, professional bootlickers who tell him how much smarter, more successful and more qualified he is to be president than anyone else?

Through his sophisticated and expensive TV and internet campaigns, we are learning what Mike Bloomberg wants us to know about him. What voters have yet to find out — and will not know until he’s in the arena, mixing it up with the other Democrats and on the debate stage — is whether we will like Mike.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.