Saturday, November 09, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 45

I knew I was going to forget something last week and I pretty much did.

In this case, it was a major event from exactly a week before (so two weeks now), that was worth commenting on. I will mention briefly now.

In a significant victory in the War on Terror, American Special Forces killed the leader of ISIS, Al-Baghdadi inside of Syria. This was a great achievement for the U.S. military in killing him and all the men and women of our intelligence community who worked to make it possible. Of course, Donald Trump, as President, authorized this dangerous raid and he deserves credit for that.

The reaction though the next morning in a Presidential press conference was garish and tacky and very likely fabricated to some extent in terms of the details of what happened. There was a hero dog though, so Trump had to praise a dog for the first time. I do not care a great deal that Congressional Democrats were not informed of this mission beforehand, but wonder why Trump was so quick to thank the Russians for helping, when they said they did not even know about it. All the politics aside, let us remember that ISIS remains a viable threat and dangers to the U.S. abound. As was the case when the  Obama Administration engineered the justified killing of Osama bin Laden, now would not be the time to let up our guard in anyway, as temping as that may be to any President wishing to announce "peace" or to opt out of the Middle East for strategic reasons.

This past Tuesday was the odd-year Election Day and received much attention, especially after the fact. While Republicans won a solid but not blowout victory to keep the Governorship of Mississippi and easily captured every down ballot statewide race in Kentucky, the Governorship of the Bluegrass State did switch parties in a very narrow vote. I called that one right, when few were willing to predict a win for Steve Beshear over Mark Bevin. Furthermore, results in just about every suburban area that voted saw a continued theme from 2018 in Democrats making major gains in previous GOP strongholds.

The Kentucky race received the most attention by far though. After all, Donald Trump held a huge Election Eve rally there and tremendously pumped up the Bevin campaign, spoke of what a great Governor he was, and how important it was nationally for him to win, or that would be a horrible message for Trump himself. Still though, Bevin lost, and while Trump may not be the main reason why, it was still a bad result for the White House. They tried to spin it by saying that Bevin was headed towards a landslide loss before Trump got involved. Maybe there is some truth to a larger Bevin loss had Trump sat it out, but the fact is that Bevin lost by being a Trump like politician in office and governing in a divisive way. Then, he failed to win a second term, in an overwhelmingly conservative place. Republicans should take heed. Bevin really had no choice but to try to nationalize the election, especially on an issue like impeachment, but yet it did not work. Many voters who had supported Trump and Bevin in their last elections, went Democrat this time. Now, though the results were close but still well in the thousands, Bevin is refusing to concede and citing "irregularities." This gambit is almost certain to fail but many are saying this is a deliberate trial run in case Trump loses in a year and will not concede.

Political attention will turn to another conservative state next Saturday as Louisiana will hold its Gubernatorial runoff between incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards, a pretty conservative member of his party, and Republican second place advancer Eddie Rispone, whom Trump is campaigning for. Before the first round of voting, I said I expected a runoff and predicted it would be between these two men. I said overall the contest was "Likely Democrat." I will formally change that prediction now to "Leans Democrat" as the small amount of polling does show a competitive race.

I think the dynamics still favor Edwards getting the most votes next week, but it has gotten a bit closer than I might have expected and many on the right fully expect Rispone to take the Governorship back from the Democrats. One way or another, Trump will be part of the story by inserting himself into the campaign.

On Capitol Hill, things are still being put into place for public impeachment inquiry hearings which are to begin this week. Those who dislike Trump say the closed door hearings are producing terrible information about what happened. Those who like Trump continue to call the proceedings "Soviet style" and say nothing is coming out that is bad for Trump. Ultimately, it will be up to the public.

So, that leaves us with the Democrat primary field. To the best of my memory, nobody dropped out this week, but there was a late, and surprise semi-entrance. After previously deciding not to run, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, once a nominal Republican, has filed to run in early filing required Alabama as a Democrat contender. Bloomberg is easily richer than any other candidate, even Tom Steyer, but only slightly younger than Bernie Sanders in what is a pretty geriatric Presidential field all around. He is even older than Joe Biden.

For what it is worth, while I am far from an admirer of Bloomberg's overall politics, out of all the Democrats in the field (or those who have dropped out), he is someone I would at least consider voting for over Trump. He is clearly more liberal than me on social issues, but less likely (perhaps because he is rich enough) to not pander to left-wing special interests. Desperate times can call for desperate measures.

This means though that Bloomberg will somehow be nominated by the Democrats, and if that happens, it might be even more unlikely than Trump winning the 2016 GOP nomination. At this stage of the game, Bloomberg is not even going to compete in the first four states, but would start on Super Tuesday. This has never come close to succeeding in modern times. The only other major candidate who even attempted something similar was Bloomberg's Mayoral predecessor Rudy Giuliani in 2008.

To be clear, this move by Bloomberg is bold, risky, and an indictment of "no confidence" in all the Democrats running for President. Previously, Bloomberg indicated he would not want to do anything that might complicate things for Joe Biden. Now, he apparently thinks Biden's campaign has overwhelming weaknesses (despite leading in many polls from states that are not Iowa and New Hampshire.) Thus, the thinking is that Elizabeth Warren might be headed towards the nomination, and Bloomberg and his (rich) friends seem very concerned that she might not be able to beat Donald Trump. Their concern may be very valid. So, basically Bloomberg is running as an "insurance policy."

There are so many unknowns though. For one thing, does the specter of Bloomberg merely warming up on the sidelines make things even worse for Biden in terms of fundraising and organizational support? Is this part of Bloomberg's plan or does he genuinely prefer to basically be drafted out of necessity? I will be interested to see once he goes public if he actually says that he wants people to pick him ahead of everyone else. In the meantime, Biden has had no choice but to basically welcome him into the race, while Warren and Bernie Sanders have gone out of their way to trash Bloomberg as a "billionaire trying to buy the election" to suit their own needs and please their own bases. This also greatly complicates matters for candidates such as Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar who get mentioned the most as those who might benefit if Biden fizzles out early and panic about Warren sets in.

For a variety of reasons, there is likely not a great hunger to elect a person like Bloomberg as President, but the prospect of a Trump vs. Warren general election might make a lot of people look towards unconventional last ditch options. I wish Bloomberg would have taken this into account and ran as an Independent.


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