Thursday, January 23, 2020


One of my pet peeves is journalism that treats Donald Trump as America's greatest political genius. Yes, he won a campaign nobody thought he could win (including, reportedly, himself) -- but he needed help from James Comey, Vladimir Putin, and a Hillary-hating, email-obsessed mainstream media, and he still lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million. An example of this kind of journalism is a piece posted at Axios this morning:
Mike Bloomberg copies Trump to beat Trump

To beat President Trump, Mike Bloomberg wants to be candidate Trump.

... The big picture: Bloomberg is no Trump, but is trying to beat the president at his own game.
How is Bloomberg trying to be Trump? Here's one of the Axios's examples:
Ubiquity: Trump forced himself into our lives with Twitter taunts and endless TV appearances. Bloomberg is buying his way into the minute-by-minute of our lives with TV ads.
But this isn't Bloomberg imitating Trump. This is Bloomberg imitating himself. He did the same thing in his three mayoral victories. Here's what The New York Times wrote after Bloomberg's first win, in 2001:
Sixty-eight million, nine hundred sixty-eight thousand, one hundred eighty-five dollars.

That's how much Michael R. Bloomberg spent from his personal fortune on the election that made him the mayor of New York City, according to documents his campaign filed yesterday with the city's Board of Elections. It breaks all records for spending in municipal elections by tens of millions of dollars.

It is just $2 million less than Ross Perot spent on his 1992 presidential campaign....

The Bloomberg campaign was the Rolls-Royce of campaigns. It spent more money on television advertisements and mailings in the last two weeks of the campaign than the [Mark] Green campaign spent on the whole race. The filings show that from Oct. 23 on, the Bloomberg campaign spent $8.4 million on television....
In his final mayoral race, in 2009, Bloomberg spent $102 million, "much of it on last-minute television and radio advertising," according to the Times.

What else, Axios?
Slogan power: ... Bloomberg's inner circle thought "Make America Great Again" was an effective slogan. VoilĂ , the Bloomberg slogan: "Mike Will Get It Done." The twist: "It" can mean beating Trump, enacting gun control as president, or whatever the voter imagines.
Newsflash: Donald Trump did not invent the political slogan. Bloomberg's inner circle is right to think that "Make America Great Again" was an effective slogan. But it wasn't the first political slogan in human history. And "Mike Will Get It Done" doesn't sound anything like "Make America Great Again."

What else?
It's all about brand, baby: Bloomberg, like Trump, has set up his campaign so his personal brand shines, win or lose. The former mayor is making plain he will spend up to $2 billion to win himself — or, if he loses, allocate some of that to the Democratic nominee and Bloomberg's pet causes. As a down payment, he's showering money on state and local parties to help them, up and down their tickets, regardless of who wins the primary.
But in 2016, Trump set up his campaign so his personal brand would shine outside electoral politics if he lost. He was going to use the campaign to sell his hotels and golf courses, and maybe a new TV channel. Bloomberg actually seems to want to elect Democrats even if he loses the nomination, because he seems to believe that's good for the country. (If Trump were forced off the ballot, I'm sure he wouldn't give a dime to downballot Republicans.) And on a personal level, Bloomberg and Trump are polar opposites this year: Bloomberg is trying to ingratiate himself with a party he knows is wary of him, while Trump assumes every Republican loves him and it's his prerogative to kick other people out of the party.

I'm not writing this because I'm a big fan of Mike Bloomberg -- I'm not. But it annoys me when all political strategy is described in reference to Trump, as if he's the Lebron James of politicking, based on his (checks notes) one electoral victory, which came with a huge asterisk.

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