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Maybe Michael Bloomberg wasn’t as awful as he looked

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Dana Kennedy
Dana Kennedy

Call me crazy, but the media could have it wrong about Michael Bloomberg. The latest Democratic debate post-mortem came fast and furious – and from a prominent Op-Ed in The New York Times to the cover of The New York Post –and the verdict was almost unanimous.

Bloomberg was “disastrous.” His campaign had “imploded.” He “bombed.” Get the hook for “timid,” “defensive” Mini Mike, the pundits said. “Bye, Felicia” might be the only headline missing from the gleeful media pile-on of Bloomberg after he made his presidential debate debut.

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Bloomberg was about as likely to get the nomination as Amy “Who’s the president of Mexico?” Klobuchar.  Like it not, many warned, Crazy Bernie just got another surge.

Who could doubt them? When has the media been wrong?  How soon we forget.

The Democratic candidates tried to out-Trump Trump with in-your-face name-calling, playing to the Roman gladiator tone set by Trump and fed by the media.

They got it wrong with Hillary Clinton. Many in the press were so out of sync with the country that the day before the 2016 election Huffington Post was still predicting a landslide of almost 98 percent for Clinton.

Maybe they’re wrong now.  On Wednesday night, the Democratic candidates tried to out-Trump Trump with in-your-face name-calling, especially Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg (“I speak five languages”) and Klobuchar. They were playing to the Roman gladiator tone set by Trump and fed by the media.

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Only Trump Can Do Trump

Too bad that none of the Democratic candidates’ high-priced strategists understand a key point: Only Trump can do Trump. He’s a one-off, a natural-born disruptor whether you like it or not.

Elizabeth Warren’s attempt to burst out of the gate like Trump when she barked that Bloomberg had called women “fat broads and horse-faced lesbians” came across as both jarring – and warmed-over Trump.

In other words, fail.

Impeccable Citing Facts

Bloomberg, for all his deer-in-the-headlights look and defensiveness, was the only candidate who didn’t trash anyone.  He was impeccable when it came to citing facts and figures—both involving his coal plant charities as well as his record on employing women—that held up. No one expected him to present as a slick, charismatic debater.

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You might not warm up to him, but he may have come off surprisingly well to an electorate turned off by more than three years of Trump’s harsh blustering and bullying.

“Bloomberg was the foremost loser,” intoned Politico. “To be blunt, he was terrible.”

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Going High

But is that true in the real world? In fact, Bloomberg was doing what one-half of the two patron saints of the Democratic Party—Michelle Obama—has always said we should do. He went high when everyone else went low.

Americans may well be tired of politics as an ongoing World Championship Wrestling match. They could be sick and tired of the focus on wokeness and microaggressions that take up increasing space in both the press and politics—and be willing to overlook some misplaced jokes and even past mistakes like Bloomberg’s stop and frisk program.

They may want bland and boring, even if it comes with the racism and sexism not unknown to men of Bloomberg’s age, if it means a steady hand on the tiller for a change.

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If I were Bloomberg’s strategists, I’d take the unlikely moniker of “underdog” that The New York Times gave him Thursday and run with it.

Only in this day and age could a billionaire underdog possibly be the country’s best chance of beating a smug top dog billionaire.

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