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Bloomberg and the ‘Hate’ Trap

Summary:
Establishment Democrats who had hoped that Michael Bloomberg could ride to their rescue might need to start looking for another plan. The former New York mayor got kneecapped this week when recordings surfaced of his previous remarks about race, crime, and economics that make Bloomberg look guilty of the kind of “hate” that Democrats routinely accuse Republicans of perpetrating. Desperate to stop socialist Bernie Sanders from winning the party’s presidential nomination, Democrats are now reckoning with the consequences of their habitual rhetoric of racial blame. Having endorsed the anti-police agenda of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Democrats won’t find it easy to defend Bloomberg’s record as mayor. Even if the billionaire’s

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Establishment Democrats who had hoped that Michael Bloomberg could ride to their rescue might need to start looking for another plan. The former New York mayor got kneecapped this week when recordings surfaced of his previous remarks about race, crime, and economics that make Bloomberg look guilty of the kind of “hate” that Democrats routinely accuse Republicans of perpetrating. Desperate to stop socialist Bernie Sanders from winning the party’s presidential nomination, Democrats are now reckoning with the consequences of their habitual rhetoric of racial blame.

Having endorsed the anti-police agenda of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Democrats won’t find it easy to defend Bloomberg’s record as mayor. Even if the billionaire’s lavish spending could buy him the party’s nomination — an untested proposition — Bloomberg’s record on racial issues would make it difficult for him to play the race card against President Trump in the general election campaign. Does anyone really think Democrats can win without the race card?

The release of Bloomberg’s recorded defense of “stop and frisk” policies triggered still more panic among Democrats already in a frenzied state of fear (see “The Great Liberal Freakout Has Begun”) over the success of Sanders. The Vermont senator emerged victorious in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, where the establishment candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, finished a weak fifth place. Not since Ed Muskie got blitzed by George McGovern in the 1972 New Hampshire primary has a Democrat front-runner fallen so far so soon as Biden. The ripple effects of Biden’s failure were succinctly described by liberal journalist Jonathan Chait:

Biden has run for president three times. He has not yet managed to finish higher than fourth in any primary or caucus.…

If not for Biden, a mainstream liberal Democrat might well have begun to consolidate support of a party establishment that is not looking for a candidate who will embrace wildly unpopular policies and a wildly unpopular socialist label while emphasizing transformative economic change in the midst of the best economy in a generation.…

Biden’s campaigns in 1988 and 2008 ended in disaster for Biden. His 2020 campaign is going to end in a disaster for the whole party.

Like Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is now obviously doomed after New Hampshire, where she finished a dismal fourth place. With Sanders very likely to win the next contest, the February 22 Nevada caucus, the “Anybody But Bernie” faction within the Democratic Party is running out of time to find a consensus alternative before the March 3 “Super Tuesday” contests. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar both did well in New Hampshire, beating Biden for the “mainstream” Democrat vote. But each of those candidates has weaknesses, and they are splitting the opposition to Sanders. Thus, the idea of Bloomberg as the white knight to rescue the party has a certain appeal to many Democrats who think Sanders can’t possibly beat Trump.

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