There’s an infamous anecdote from an old New York magazine story, in which then-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg arrived at a party, ‘gestured towards a woman in a very tight floor-length gown standing nearby and said, “Look at the ass on her.”’
Presumably Mr Bloomberg exuded similar bluntness during his negotiations to speak at this year’s Democratic National Convention. When you’re the 19th richest man in the world, you can stroll into a room and say what you want. Money talks, and therefore so does Michael Bloomberg. ‘He’s continuing the work he’s done over several cycles to support our party, and coming out of the convention, he’s helping put Democrats in the strongest position possible to win at every level of the ballot in November,’ DNC chairman Tom Perez told the New York Times. Slurp.
Bloomberg has pledged $60 million to elect House Democrats and gave $18 million to the DNC in March, after they fiddled with their debate requirements to grant him access. But those sums are pocket change for a man like Mike, who spent $1 billion on his own 2020 bid, securing a single delegate in American Samoa. His slogan, ‘I like Mike’, proved rather ironic in the end.
The announcement that the former presidential candidate and current billionaire would be addressing the DNC was met with disdain from various quarters — not least the former Bloomberg campaign workers Michael had promised healthcare too and then stiffed. ‘I don’t want to have infighting, but he’s a problem, and he doesn’t actually hold the values that the DNC supposedly expresses,’ a former Minnesota field officer told the Times. But ‘values’ haven’t been especially high on the agenda for this DNC: actual Biden-Harris policies have been hard to spot, with more of a focus on appealing to former Republicans, which Bloomberg is, and bashing Donald Trump, which Bloomberg was happy to do.
‘I’ve never been much for partisan politics,’ Bloomberg began. ‘I’ve supported Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Hell — I’ve actually been a Democrat, Republican, and independent.’
Then came the barbs: ‘Tonight I’m not asking you to vote against Trump because he’s a bad guy. I’m urging you to vote against him because he’s done a bad job.’
The Democratic mission is to turn out undecideds in swing states in order to win the Electoral College and the Senate. While former Republicans like Bloomberg are a target group for the DNC, how many of them will be persuaded by the abrasive tone of a miserly New York billionaire?
‘Let me tell you a little secret: Donald Trump’s economic plan was to give a huge tax cut to guys like me who didn’t need it, and then lie about it to everyone else,’ said Bloomberg. ‘Well, Joe will roll back that tax cut I got so we can fund things our whole country needs, like training for adults who have lost jobs.’
Bloomberg is not a natural orator. He does not possess the innate charisma of fellow convention speakers like the Obamas or Bernie Sanders. He wasn’t especially popular during his short-lived and very expensive primary campaign. But he does have an enormous amount of money, so the DNC asked us to kneel down and take it. At least we didn’t have to sign an NDA afterwards.