Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas played out like an old time cartoon show. Nothing edifying or of substance occurred and yet people were fixated on the screen because they could not resist watching the characters bludgeon and savage each other to death.
Speaking of savage, we did get to witness Pocahontas scalping Mini Mike on national television, which was hilarious to see. The senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts pounded the clearly unprepared Bloomberg. For his part, the billionaire former mayor of New York apparently thought bringing a wallet to a tomahawk fight was a good idea.
At a minimum it felt like the debate should have paused for decency’s sake so Mini Mike could have called the tribal police to report the scalping.
We also got to see Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) morph into a red-faced comrade whenever anyone dared to question the logistics of his healthcare pipe dream.
We watched in extreme discomfort as Mayor Pete Buttigieg fought with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) over her experience or lack thereof and we saw Uncle Joe Biden get heckled by protesters. At one point, when Bernie and Joe got into it, the debate looked like a couple of geriatrics arguing over a TV remote at the rest home.
Many people lose money in Las Vegas, but it’s hard to imagine anyone losing as much as Mayor Mike Bloomberg did all in one night.
Seriously. With wall-to-wall coverage of media following the debate hammering him on his performance, likely valued in tens of millions of dollars in air time, he should never have debated. When you have the “big mo” in politics, you make your opponents come to you; you don’t go to them. Bloomberg should have avoided any debates until after Super Tuesday.
He has spent over $419 million on advertising already, with more than $124 million of that directed to the Super Tuesday states. Bloomberg is playing a bit of a game of craps, rolling all that money on a bet that he can overwhelm his opponents under a tsunami of spending (to give perspective, Bernie Sanders, Bloomberg’s closest competitor in terms of Super Tuesday spending, has only put $10 million into those states).
But overwhelming his Democratic opponents with spending is one thing. Potentially facing Trump is an entirely different proposal: as his performance last night showed, Mini Mike might want to spend a little money on a debate coach. His answers to questions he should have prepared to face appeared unrehearsed, arrogant, and inauthentic—all things the electorate hates to see in a candidate. There is no doubt that the great hope of the Democratic establishment was significantly diminished last night.
Unfortunately for Democrats, what happened in Vegas will not stay in Vegas. The next few weeks will be bloody and clarifying all at the same time as the candidates fight for delegates in Nevada, South Carolina, and then on to the big one: Super Tuesday.
Establishment panic, already rising, will go into overdrive as Sanders continues to surge and Biden implodes (unless Biden wins South Carolina definitively, he’s done and he might be done even with a South Carolina win).
Let’s be clear: only 155 delegates will have been awarded to the candidates once South Carolina is over. The real moment of truth will arrive on March 3, Super Tuesday, when the delegate count jumps to 1,357. Then, by the end of the month, more than 50 percent of the total number of delegates will have been awarded.
Most assuredly, in keeping with the intonation of schoolchildren everywhere, for some Democratic candidates the month of March will come roaring in like a lion but it may leave them like little lambs. Then again, it’s becoming more and more clear: the Democratic primary is really nothing more than an audition to see who will be the sacrificial lamb for Donald Trump in November.