Debate (Fight) Night... Bloomberg Gets Frisked
On this episode of democracy-ish, Touré and Danielle discuss the Democratic field post-New Hampshire and what, if anything, it tells us about the race overall.
With Biden’s poll numbers tanking, Mike Bloomberg gathers steam. Unlike Trump, he’s an actual billionaire. But will “stop and frisk” sink his candidacy?
Bernie’s the front-runner despite the fear among many on the left that he’s too socialist. What does that really mean, and does it matter?
On Wednesday night in Las Vegas, everybody was kung-fu fighting. Befitting its venue, the Democratic debate was an actual brawl.
Finally! Some real action.
With just six candidates remaining on stage prior to the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, everyone’s gloves came off. Hardly five minutes had elapsed before Elizabeth Warren threw the first punch. She might as well have lit the $300 million-plus Bloomberg spent so far on fire and roasted him alive over the embers.
Warren warned us against the danger of a billionaire who refers to women as “fat broads and horse-faced lesbians” –– which seemed like a dig on Trump until she revealed it was a quip from Bloomberg.
“I screamed,” says Danielle. “I lost it.”
Gauntlet thrown, the rest of the candidates piled on Bloomberg –– and each other. But Warren wasn’t done with the new kid on the soapbox.
In a pointed critique of Bloomberg’s liberal use of NDAs among female employees, she put him on the spot and insisted he release them from their legal obligation to stay quiet about lord knows what.
In the words of Sarah Silverman, who live-tweeted the event: “Holy shit this show is going to get picked up.”
Who emerged victorious? Well, if you’re a democracy-ish listener, you know that’s a matter of (strong) opinion. Danielle and Touré explain.
Episode Highlights — Say Goodbye to Our Little Friend
Why Bernie won, according to Touré
Front-runner Bernie Sanders turned in a classic, on-brand performance, dealing with two of the strikes against him head on.
“The heart attack –– he completely normalized it. I'm totally healthy. I'm ready to do the job,” says Touré. “And when he talked about economic empowerment being for the working man and socialism being for the rich, he completely turned it into a positive for himself.”
And in the other corner: Danielle and Elizabeth Warren
“My sleeves have been rolled up since I walked in the door,” says Danielle. “That motherfucker didn't win a thing.”
“Elizabeth Warren came out swinging. She has facts and plans and a desire to actually be president of the United States. She smacked everybody up and down the line. Why? Because none of their plans amount to a damn thing.”
Her favorite moment was when Warren called out the Midwest moderates for their inadequate healthcare plans. (Buttigieg’s was less a plan than a PowerPoint, while Klobuchar’s was “like a Post-It –– insert plan here.”)
“I said, bitch, you better run with it.”
Warren’s war on the media blackout
Danielle sees Warren’s MO right now as a “fight for people to recognize she's still in the race.” She observes, “The media has totally blacked [Warren] out.”
And Danielle thinks that she unambiguously won the debate.
“Why –– because she attacked everybody?” asks Touré.
Not so. Danielle points out that Warren found ways to bring people of color “thoughtfully, strategically, into every single conversation ... There isn’t another goddamn candidate who can, or would, do that.”
Warren connected the Dems’ core points –– like climate change –– to issues like environmental justice. The other candidates would rather ignore its disproportionate impact on communities of color. She also talked about childcare, HBCUs and the racial wealth gap.
“She’s able to put a social justice and racial framework around everything,” she says. “That is the kind of president I need. Because Black and brown people in this country are suffering.”
Danielle is over what seems to be Dems’ knee-jerk response to Trump’s narrow Rust Belt victory: an obsession with the white working class.
“I'm tired of hearing about their goddamn struggle,” she says. “I'm tired of chasing after their votes. We should be looking toward the 100 million people who didn’t vote in the last election.”
Bloomberg’s debut: a date without destiny
When his campaign was merely a twinkle on millions of TV screens across the nation –– stuffed with anti-Trump messaging that he alone controlled — Bloomberg looked like a hot commodity.
But if Wednesday’s debate was Bloomberg's first date with America, “he ain't getting a text back,” says Danielle.
Touré agrees. “It was such a terrible date that it's the kind where you get a friend to call 20 minutes in: I gotta go – my mom is sick. You don’t even make it through the appetizer.”
Danielle thinks everybody had a pact to go after Bloomberg: “He doesn't have the constituency and doesn't belong there. They’ve all been in this race, laying down roots for about a year.”
The pact could work: Dems can sway voters more easily from Bloomberg than Bernie. Although he clearly has the money to influence the race, it’s unclear exactly what he’s bringing to the table.
During a large portion of the debate, Bloomberg seemed to fade away.
“I didn't know humans could disintegrate,” Danielle says.
Touré had been afraid that Bloomberg would just “buy up everybody's campaign staff and take this thing over.
“After tonight ... I don't think that's gonna happen.”
Time marches on (toward Super Tuesday)
Touré thinks that although Warren slayed the stage, it won’t change much for the die-hard Berners. The structure of the debate is ripe for drama but not for substance, he says.
“She won the ‘Me Too’ moment with Mike ... She won that [other] moment with Amy. … Do you think that she gained ground on Bernie tonight? His poll numbers will not go down as a result.”
So, what’s next?
After Nevada, the pace picks up. South Carolina votes on Leap Day and Super Tuesday is just days later, on March 3. That’s the drop-dead-deadline for any Democrat who hopes to win enough delegates to clinch the nomination.
After that, the race will look very different. It’s possible that one or several candidates will drop out even sooner.
And it’s certain that the rumble in Vegas is just a preview of what’s to come. If this is what happens when the Dems face off against each other, the general election fight against Trump is likely to resemble the Red Wedding on “Game of Thrones.”
“We are coming for you,” says Touré.
Danielle thinks it will look more like “Scarface” –– say hello to my little friend.
“What if Mike Bloomberg is the ‘little friend?’” Touré asks.
“Oh shit,” Danielle replies.
Triple backflips and the shackles of patriarchy
Danielle sees Elizabeth Warren as a candidate who understands systems of injustice beyond the economic ones.
“It pisses me off that America is so fucking misogynistic ... the policies she’s offering for everybody make the most sense.
“People will get behind Sanders because he is a man and he can be crazy, with his wild hair and his spitting and his yelling. But Warren had other shackles around her, the shackles of patriarchy. I find that so troublesome.”
“I too am sad to see Warren fading,” he says. “I think she would be a great president. I think that she would beat Trump. I think that the Democratic fear of losing to him is motivating us to say we need somebody who will figuratively and perhaps literally punch him in the face. There’s a sense that Bloomberg might do that.”
The female candidates, on the other hand, have to “do triple backflips” to compete, Touré says.
Next week, Nevada weighs in, giving us the first look at what a relatively diverse electorate might think. Meanwhile, Trump is unabashedly wiping his ass with the constitution.
“It's getting very exciting,” says Touré. “And by exciting, I mean––”
“Terrifying,” says Danielle.
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie-Mills and Touré as your tour guides, flight attendants and or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle—together!