From the Left



Here Comes Mike

Susan Estrich on

Back in the 1980s, then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Chuck Manatt tried to get rid of Iowa, which is to say, get rid of the special status that allowed it to conduct the first of the nation's caucuses.

He was right, of course. Iowa is the wrong place to start, and caucuses that attract the hardcore ideologues who can be relied upon to hand victory to a loser is the wrong way to begin. This week, the Iowa Democrats and second-rate coders (but first-rate politicos) who designed a bug-ridden voting system, which they never tested; far from proving they are the equals of Republicans (not to mention the Russians), they proved exactly the opposite.

On Monday night, 0.1% of all Americans had every TV anchor talking to themselves, looking like fools as President Donald Trump crowed at the State of the Union, and still providing partial results as the Senate prepared to acquit Trump.

Mike Bloomberg and his advisers could not ask for better. Two days after the debacle, the caucuses' only other impact (other than making the Democratic Party look foolish) was a takedown (let's see how far) of Joe Biden, the stumble Bloomberg needed.

Who will save us from Bernie Sanders? Hillary Clinton could not be more wrong. A lot of people like Bernie, more than I would venture like her right now. Her attacks have been both uncalled for and totally counterproductive. I like Sanders just fine. It's not about liking. I hope I'm wrong, but like many Democrats, I believe Bernie Sanders would lose as many states as George McGovern, who I also liked.

Democrats can't afford to lose (likely as that seems right now), and we certainly can't afford the kind of landslide that could leave both houses of Congress in Republican hands.

So where do you turn?


Among the Iowa candidates, it's former Mayor Pete Buttigieg. I like him, too. I hope Elizabeth Warren won't attack me for asking whether a brilliant and talented 37-year-old whose highest office was mayor of a city the size of my neighborhood could be elected president. Not to mention that he's gay, which may be less of a problem than being a woman.

While the media has been slogging around Iowa looking for farmers to interview, Bloomberg has been filling the airwaves in places other than Iowa. He clearly drives Trump crazy, which is to his credit. Bloomberg may be shorter than Trump, but he is much, much richer. He may even be able to beat him.

When my old friend and former Clinton pollster Doug Schoen signed up to poll for Bloomberg, as he has in the past, I wondered how he and Howard Wolfson and the other veterans working with Bloomberg were going to pull this off. With Bloomberg's bank account, it's not surprising that his campaign isn't being run by 30-somethings who are living in motels and have never been inside the White House. And not having to raise money or answer to donors or dial for dollars eliminates the worst, the most fickle, the least democratic, the most unpleasant part of any campaign.

As it turns out, it might be easier than anyone thought. If Biden falters again in New Hampshire, those of us who don't think a socialist can win will likely be left to choose between Bloomberg and Buttigieg. Or maybe we can even get them both. Think about that, Trump. Maybe Democrats aren't as foolish as they looked in Iowa.


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