Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Hold ’em and Fold ’em Edition
Harsh Your Mellow Monday comes for the also-rans, Mike Bloomberg, “fiscal conservatives” make a funny, plus the rights and wrongs so far
Plenty happened over the weekend, and we only have today before tomorrow, so let’s get busy with Harsh Your Mellow Monday.
The Also-Rans Run Out of Options
The Killer Bs of Bernie, Biden, and Bloomberg will dominate the chatter between now and Wednesday morning when the Super Tuesday results change the narrative yet again. But that’s because everyone else still running for president is now an also-ran that cannot win.
Sorry if this is breaking news to you, Warren/Klobuchar/Gabbar…(sorry, I can’t finish typing that with a straight face, as you were) but your chosen one isn’t becoming the nominee this time around. Bloomberg isn’t either but more on him later.
Since Warren 2020 campaign manager Roger Lau took to Medium to detail out Senator Warren’s plan to go all the way to the convention, let us start with her.
“Our grassroots campaign is built to compete in every state and territory and ultimately prevail at the national convention in Milwaukee.”
Uh, well maybe your definition is different. You are indeed “competing” as in the campaign is on ballots and doing campaigning things, but that doesn’t make you “competitive”, which, let’s be frank, you haven’t been. Senator Warren has finished third, fourth, fourth, and fifth in the four contests so far and going into Super Tuesday holds a commanding one delegate lead over Amy Klobuchar that is keeping her in fourth place in that column.
“We believe that Super Tuesday will greatly winnow this field and it will become clear that only a few candidates will have a viable path to the Democratic nomination — and Elizabeth Warren will be one of them.”
Yes to the first part; let’s talk about that second part. So your theory here is that after roughly a third of delegates are doled out, the candidate likely to still be in third or fourth place is going to be the go-to savior to a deeply divided party. That’s your plan.
But as the dust settles after March 3, the reality of this race will be clear: no candidate will likely have a path to the majority of delegates needed to win an outright claim to the Democratic nomination.
Well, yeah that is a possibility but again, that discussion about who is number one isn’t going to go three or four deep, which is where y’all are going to be in the queue…
After Wisconsin nearly one-third of the pledged delegates will still be waiting to be elected…
Ummmm, because two-thirds of them are already divided up to people mostly not named Elizabeth Warren, without enough left to catch up…
In the road to the nomination, the Wisconsin primary is halftime, and the convention in Milwaukee is the final play.
Ok, you know what, we tried to hear you out here, but now your just wishcasting.
This same train of thought was being presented by the Buttigieg campaign before his somewhat surprising news last night that he was bowing out. But he had at least won Iowa and was respectable in New Hampshire and Nevada before the inevitable shellacking his horrid minority polling numbers told observers his South Carolina results would be. “Hey, there are points on the board out there for you, don’t give up now!!!” is the battle cry of operatives and workers who would very much like a few more months of paychecks. But it’s nonsense strategy and hoping against hope, and should be called as such. But pundits and talking heads need something to write about, so we will get think pieces involving six “ifs” mixed with two “maybes” squared to the fourth “it coulda/maybe/possibly” power.
Pete read the way the wind was blowing and bowed out last night. Warren is behind in polling in her home state, let alone anywhere else. Klobuchar might have a chance in her native Minnesota — where she has never lost a race, let her remind you, for the umpteenth time — but where Bernie Sanders is very strong both historically and in current polling.
The remaining candidates are mathematically done in the race. Now it’s ego, paying off campaigns both in donor dollars, personal pride, and campaign debt, and picking the spot to leverage an endorsement of who will actually be the nominee. Even if the politicos’ wet dream of a contested convention occurs, they will all be outside that discussion.
The reality is they are done. Everything else is just hot air filling the spaces that should be vacated by the also-rans.
If cyberstalking is a crime, perhaps mediastalking should be, because that is what Mike Bloomberg is doing to anyone with a screen or radio in any state that is voting on Tuesday.
New York Times breaks it down with graphs and charts, but here’s the money quote and sobering comparison:
The breadth of Mr. Bloomberg’s broadcast campaign is numbing. The roughly $410 million on television ads alone — $370 million spent, and another $41 million reserved through super Tuesday — is more than Hillary Clinton and President Trump spent on television ads during their entire 2016 presidential campaigns, primary and general elections combined, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm. And Mr. Bloomberg, who entered the race in November, did it in four months.
In layman’s terms: He’s frickin’ everywhere.
Every commercial break on radio, TV, and streaming in a Super Tuesday state starts or ends with a Bloomberg ad, and sometimes both. The giant floating head in 1984 didn’t get this much media coverage. There are hurricanes that made landfall in the continental United States thinking of bringing a class action lawsuit for not getting the attention from the networks Bloomberg has bought in the last few weeks. Mikey Money’s nearly half a billion dollars in spending is more than just a high mark in self funding that has never been matched. It’s pushing the limits of how much advertising someone can do before it tips over to actively ticking people off.
He got that way by buying up, almost literally, every available campaign operative on the market as detailed in NY Mag By Vanessa Grigoriadis:
Up in the waiting room, an ad plays on a flat-screen TV about low-income and minority pregnant women and how they die more than white women (but Mike will fix that). Two countdown clocks hang above the TV, one marking the days until Super Tuesday and the other the days until the national election. The folks here don’t seem like run-of-the-mill campaign volunteers; they’re middle-aged political mercenaries in fleece with time-tested strategies and robust Rolodexes. A political consultant tells me, “They’ve hired the whole goddamn world and have a lot of credible people. It’s not like Trump’s first campaign, with people working for him you’d never heard of before — which, by the way, definitely worked.” Bloomberg has recruited from his City Hall and hoovered up people from shuttered presidential campaigns (Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang).
He’s always treated employees to salaries, health care, and bonuses beyond industry standards and is now paying many multiples more than other campaigns, plus free furnished apartments in Manhattan. “This is the kind of campaign we’ll never be on again in our lives!,” exclaims one staffer, incredulous at his new Bloomberg-issued iPhone 11, the free booze, and the three catered meals a day (peeking in the campaign café at dinnertime, I spied pizza and tuna steak). Even the lowest-level campaign workers, like a yoga teacher who says they’re making $6,000 a month just to canvass for him — work that almost every other campaign relies on volunteers for — share some of these benefits.
I’m thrilled for anyone getting their money and making a living. But that isn’t sustainable, and more importantly, it isn’t organic.
But it’s How Mike Gets It Done (TM).
Except that isn’t going to work here. Case in point on slickly planned but not organic-leading-to-cringe and awkward Bloomberg moments, there was the brutal visual of Mike in the pulpit at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama with folks standing and turning their backs to him. For those not familiar with church-going etiquette and protocol, that’s another level up in disrespect from actually throwing something at the speakers, since doing that at least means you were paying attention and responding to their words. Pre-staged? Sure. Microcosm? Yep.
The question now is, how will Mike exit stage left? He isn’t winning. He has pledged publicly to turn over what is now the most lavishly-funded campaign in American history to the vague “whoever is the nominee.” But as the embarrassment, cost, and realization of failure start to sink in after Tuesday, the questions on just what role Bloomberg sees himself playing are going to be bigger than his long-gone chances of winning the nomination. Buttigieg led the way on stepping aside, but it’s notable he did so at the same time as Bloomberg’s 3 minute “Cornonavirus” infomercial on two networks, effectively bigfooting that out of the news cycle. One more thing for Bloomberg to stew on as he is long on infrastructure and spending, and yet to get a single vote cast for himself.
$50+ Billion can buy a lot of spoilers revenge, and Mike Bloomberg is not accustomed to losing. Someone is going to feel the wrath, and it won’t be the soon-to-be former Bloomberg 2020 staffers. But it will be someone, and probably whoever takes what Bloomberg thought he was writing checks to acquire — the Democratic nomination.
A Republic, If You Can Afford It
Aren’t they just precious:
Conservative activists sent a warning shot over the bow of the Trump administration this weekend, saying they understand why spending and deficits have risen over the past few years — but it’s time to reel them in.
An overwhelming majority in the CPAC/Washington Times poll, taken at the Conservative Political Action Conference, said it’s time to get back to fiscal discipline. They said the military spending increases and tax cuts that President Trump has promoted are fine but spending cuts are needed elsewhere.
Asked what one amendment they would want added to the Constitution, more activists chose a balanced budget amendment than any other option.
“Conservative activists” are full of it. It’s been 24 years since then-President Clinton addressed the nation and declared the “era of big government is over.”
Sounded good at the time. Utterly laughable now. Since that 1996 State of the Union, blowing out the budget — that is, when congress bothers to even have one — has been a bipartisan tradition that shows no signs of stopping.
“While the estimated magnitude of the fiscal gap is subject to a substantial amount of uncertainty, it is nevertheless nearly certain that current fiscal policies cannot be sustained indefinitely,” the GAO’s report concluded. The sooner the growth of the deficit and debt can be slowed or reversed, the less those policies are likely to affect economic growth.
But is anyone listening? Lawmakers from both major parties have worked together in recent years to pass budgets that exploded annual deficits and added to the debt. Democrats running for president are promising to hike federal spending by trillions of dollars to pay for free college, government-run health care, and the fight against climate change-and even though they are also promising to raise taxes, the math doesn’t add up. That means deficits will continue to grow. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has abandoned any pretense of fiscal conservatism, and most of his party has followed suit.
But the report is right there for them to see. When the past decade’s fiscal recklessness hits the fan, they won’t be able to claim that no one saw this coming.
The truth is the only folks who care about fiscal responsibility is the out-of-power party, and then only as a cudgel to whack the in-power party. After years of “tea parties” and decrying the Obama Administration’s monetary policy, those same folks almost all are totes cool with the deficit binge President Trump is racking up since RAWR America Great, lib tears, something something.
But fear not. The GOP will once again find their voice on monetary restraint just as soon as a Democrat comes into the White House, and around and around we go around the hypocrisy maypole.
When the Republic really does fall, or extremely hard times do come from the failing of the government to do the most basic of functions and not spend far more than is even theoretically possible to raise in revenue, remember to skip the ideological finger pointing that will ensue. It was all of them. It was all of us. Everyone knew. Nobody did anything meaningful. That’s the testimony, sad as it is, of the era of unrestrained government. Not for any grand plan or scheme or cause. Just mostly out of laziness to do anything different than let the ship of state coast downhill till the crash happened.
Even mildly restrained government isn’t in the American political consciousness anymore, much less smaller or lesser government. One of the veneers that President Trump truly stripped away from the Republican Party was the fiscal conservative one, as no bill is too expensive if it’s going to the right cause, the right group of people, or makes for the right optic. Thus farmers get massive offset subsidies and border walls get funding by hook and crook along with dozens of other things regardless of any actual budgeting process. Shocking, ain’t it; who would’ve thunk it, that the man who made and lost several fortunes in business dealings with highly leveraged debt might not be particular in stewarding the public purse.
Didn’t see that one coming…Said nobody who bothered to actually think about it at all.
The era of big government is now probably permanently established in both practicality and in political working theory, until something cataclysmic enough — God forbid — will force austerity and a change of practice. Till that time, presidents will be voted upon not on their management ability to steward the nation’s finances, but which avatar will bring the federal funding spigot to bear on their causes of choice.
Franklin might have quipped we have “A Republic, if you can keep it,” but we will cease to be able to afford it long before we get around to actually losing it. No doubt to many folks’ surprise, and protestations they aren’t responsible. But they are. Not that, at that point, it will matter much.
Go Harsh Yourself — Getting it Right & Wrong So Far
Held Up Good — Poor Strategery: Elizabeth Warren Tilts the Misinformation Windmill, January 30th, 2020
“The postmortem on the Elizabeth Warren 2020 campaign later this spring will be full of reasons, excuses, if only-isms, and coulda, woulda, shouldas. Those reviews should also be long on the running thread that has plagued this campaign since its inception, a flaw that is the fault of the candidate running and filters down through the organization promoting her: lots of plans for everything except winning over Democratic Primary Voters that do the actual voting.
In short, bad strategery.”
Practically Cassandra, Over Here — Bern Notice, April 3, 2019
“Static though it might be for the next few months, the 2020 Democratic nomination race will not lack for drama. It’s a shame one of the twenty-odd candidates isn’t named Hobson, since as it stands right now Bernie Sanders losing the nomination hurts the party (see 2016), and Bernie Sanders winning the nomination hurts the party (see panicky Biden propping upping). Hobson’s choice, indeed.”
Bob Uecker “Juuuuust a bit outside” Award — The Pete Principle, April 14, 2019
“Talking heads need something to kick around, and Pete Buttigieg is the perfect combination of different, engaging, and intelligent to fill plenty of airtime, eating up space in Twitter and Facebook posts, and keep the horse race narrative going. There has to be an underdog to the story, whether he wins or not, and Mayor Pete checks a lot of those boxes. What he does with it is wholly up to him. Novelty wears off quickly, and if he doesn’t have a message beyond that to distinguish him from a crowded field that has a sameness of political thought problem brewing, he might find himself the underdog that was interesting while not much else was going in the campaign, but couldn’t challenge for the title in the end.”
So Wrong I Should Stick to Food Blogging Award — About Last Night: Fifty Shades of Fearful Beige in Democratic Debate, January 15, 2020
“ It makes kind of a nice bookend to the primary debate season before the first votes are cast in Iowa. All that pressure has bent the arc of this story right back to where we started. Joe Biden in the front, with others thinking, wishing, and hoping it wasn’t so, but no one in the Democratic field actually doing anything about it. He probably won’t win Iowa — after all Bernie tied/won the Hawkeye Cauci in 2016 depending on which numbers you use — maybe New Hampshire nor Nevada either. But everything after that, barring something cataclysmic, will be Joe finishing this off in time for Spring Break.”
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The Youth of America are the future…
Originally published at https://ordinary-times.com on March 2, 2020.