The man who would bibbity-bobbity-boo himself into the presidency
Here are some categories of human beings that allegedly exist in the multi-year augmented media reality that we call the Democratic presidential primary. First, the "candidates." These are people who, for whatever reason, think they deserve to be the commander-in-chief and have decided the best way of obtaining this position is by seeking the nomination of the major political party that does not happen to control the White House at the moment. This involves, among other things, making speeches and holding fundraisers and appearing at various events in a wide number of states. Which brings us to the "voters," the people who are, or pretend to be, emotionally invested in the outcome of this contest. They are the ones who go these events, you see, and donate money and even vote.
To what group does Michael Bloomberg, who in a recent poll is more or less tied for third place, belong?
He is not, in any conventional sense, a candidate. He is not even bothering to participate in the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary, ostensibly because he entered the process too late, but really, one suspects, because he thinks he is above having to around shaking the hands of hog farmers and schoolteachers at meet-and-greets in diners and old folks' homes. Instead, his strategy is simply to spend a lot of money buying up television ads during the NFL playoffs (a spot during the Vikings-Saints game is what reminded this correspondent that he is actually seeking the presidency). How much money are we talking? More than a $100 million so far — to say nothing of an upcoming $10 million dollar spot during the Super Bowl.
A more interesting question to ask about Bloomberg, though, is where the voters are supposed to enter into all this. It is all well and good to point out that after the first three nominating contests are held, we might still be far away from having a clear frontrunner. (I for one would not be surprised if Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina were all won by different candidates.) Does that mean that suddenly, because his name was on television a few times, people who think that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are too radical and Joe Biden too old will suddenly be overcome with enthusiasm for the 77-year-old billionaire former mayor? I have to say that I don't quite it happening. Never mind the slime that will be thrown at him during debates (assuming he ever qualifies for one) on account of his vast wealth. How exactly do we expect him to respond to someone like Biden saying, "With all due respect to the mayor, Big Gulps are not a problem the American people are worried about. The American people are worried about how they are going to pay their bills, how they are going to make their car payments and get a good education for their children and affordable health care."
But a part of me thinks that this is missing the point. Bloomberg doesn't care in the slightest what his fellow candidates have to say about his background or his record in office. Nor is he especially concerned with what voters think of him. He is not trying to participate in the democratic (or, I daresay, the Democratic) process in any conventional sense. What he wants is to bibbity-bobbity-boo himself into being the president of the United States so that he can implement whatever middle-of-the-road consensus policies his very expensive computers generate for him.
Does this mean that Bloomberg hasn't got a chance? I am not so sure. If you believe, as I do, that the DNC will do everything within their power to prevent any of the candidates running in the so-called "progressive" lane from winning the nomination and you think that Biden is in a fairly advanced stage of senescence, you have to be prepared to imagine that none of the candidates currently occupying the top tier will win the nomination. Do you think that Cory Booker has a better shot than Bloomberg? What about Andrew Yang? The mind wants to reject the possibility of a President Bloomberg because it is so instinctively repulsive, but this is precisely why we should take it seriously.
Crazier things have happened in American politics. If you don't believe me, ask the other billionaire who is 1/17 as rich as Bloomberg.