I didn’t create this analogy. It comes from CNN political commentator Van Jones, who correctly noted that Michael Bloomberg’s $330 million-plus-and-counting advertising campaign for the presidency meant he came into last night’s debate in Las Vegas as the luxury liner The Titanic. What happened? “Titanic meet iceberg Elizabeth Warren,” Jones observed. Yes, there were other candidates on stage. As usual, Bernie Sanders raged, Joe Biden tried to find some zip, Pete Buttigieg continued to look increasingly like a Maltese Falcon digging his claws into others, namely Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, with the latter caught exhibiting more of her trembling smiles.
None of it mattered, however. The key to the evening was Warren taking Bloomberg to task. How did the former Mayor of New York City handle the debacle? Not so well, as even Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey had to acknowledge. “It took him [Bloomberg] just 45 minutes in his first debate in 10 years to get his legs on the stage,” Sheekey gamely offered about the numerous gashes torn into the starboard side of his candidate’s ship. Let me suggest that 45 minutes is a long time in a two-hour debate. So much for the argument about being ready to be president on Day One.
Nobody who has watched Bloomberg over the years expected the guy to be a happy camper. But, boy, was he grim. Merely 15% of his emoting on stage last night constituted some –often minor—begrudging degree of happiness. Startled and seemingly unprepared for attacks he should have expected based on his previous words and deeds, Bloomberg retreated into rolling his eyes, flashing skeptical “smiles” and basically trying to endure his beat-down and wait for another day. If he debated as well as he’s tweeted so far in sparring with Donald Trump, Bloomberg might have been in fine shape on stage in Las Vegas. As it was, he met an unmovable object not named either Trump or Sanders.