Dem Notes

* “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”–What Michael Bloomberg is hoping for.

* There are no second first impressions. What Michael Bloomberg is hoping to overcome.

* Some things money can’t buy. What Michael Bloomberg is hoping is overstated.  

* “(Bloomberg’s) was the worst performance (in Vegas) in recent debate history–but if he can turn it around, it will be the biggest comeback in modern primary history.”–Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal.

* Yes, that Las Vegas presidential debate was contentious and at times snarky (until you compare it to the antics we saw from the Republican candidates in 2016). It also had its chaotic moments as candidates necessarily talked over each other, worked in gotcha lines or just vied for the attention of the panel of journalists.

Speaking of, it didn’t help that NBC’s questioners (five, including moderator Lester Holt) were barely outnumbered by the candidates (six). It was a reminder that this is performance art and this is a high-profile network show that showcases its own. Seemingly, no effort was made to rein in partisans in the audience.

A couple of days later I watched the C-SPAN primary debate between Democrats vying for the Senate in Massachusetts: the incumbent Sen. Edward Markey, 73, the original champion of the Green New Deal, and the challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, 39, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy. The debate focused on foreign policy, campaign finance, health care, immigration and climate change. There were only two panelists. No gotcha optics and a compliantly reserved crowd. Civility reigned. According to polls, this one is still too close to call.

I miss Jim Lehrer and Tim Russert.

* It’s probably not a good idea to vote early–unless logistics necessitate it–in a primary. Too much can happen in a relatively short time span that is a de facto vetting process. More than 220,000 Florida Democrats have already voted by mail in the March 17 primary.

* Too bad Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., can’t define himself as a socialistic Democrat instead of a “democratic socialist.” It’s more than grammatical arrangement and nuance; it’s about connotation and identity as well as priorities. In short, don’t make it overly easy for the duplicitous  opposition to disparagingly define you–whether as a Castro (Fidel not Julián) fan or a reference to that back-in-the-day “Moscow honeymoon.” And while rallying “revolutionaries” can be a primary hustings winner, it’s more likely a loser with this general election electorate.

* What’s beyond obvious is that for the Democratic moderates, it’s either consolidate or concede to  Sanders, the only one with a “movement.” There is also the matter of whoever is at the top of the ticket will matter mightily to down-ballot candidates, notably in the Senate. There are 23 Republican-held seats up in 2020, compared with 12 Democratic-held seats.

* Bloomberg will sell his company, Bloomberg LP, valued at some $60 billion, if elected president. The point is likely moot.

* “I’ve never much liked political parties. I’ve always believed that we should put country before party. Too many politicians practice the reverse, with terrible consequences for the American people.” That was Mike Bloomberg, in explaining why he was supporting Democrats in their efforts to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.

* “I ain’t a socialist. I’m not a plutocrat. I’m a Democrat.”–Joe Biden.

* “In the end, Mr. Bloomberg’s billions may be worth less than Mr. Sanders’ millions. Attracting small donors both signals and cements a loyal following. Spending your own fortune doesn’t.”–Republican strategist and fundraiser Dan Palmer.

* “The ground has shifted for everybody. People believe the taxes are too low on the very wealthy. That’s become a cornerstone belief.”–That was Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress, underscoring that wealth taxes were hardly the exclusive domain of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

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