Will Michael Bloomberg unmask the fake Wizard of Oz in the White House at last?

Feb 10th, 2020 | By | Category: In Brief

[UPDATED FEB 19, 20]. One particular strange thing about Steve Bannon’s appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Friday, February 7, 2020, was his portrayal of Boris Johnson’s Brexit- at-last on January 31 as an achievement of Donald Trump.

In a similar vein I do not at all agree with the Daily Beast assessment that “Steve Bannon Outduels and Embarrasses Bill Maher on ‘Real Time’.”

Bannon is a bright guy with some talent. But he lives in a political fantasyland, where Donald Trump in the White House can somehow magically move Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street, 3500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

(In another region of the global village Steve Bannon also seems to think that Jared Kushner’s Middle East Peace Plan has been a success. And I’d agree with President Trump himself that Bannon’s downscale casual clothing is terminally vexatious.)

Donkey party in trouble …

Panel on Real Time with Bill Maher, February 7, 2020.

As an objective political analyst, Bill Maher agreed with Steve Bannon that “your boy had the best week so far.”

(For as hard as the evidence can get, try the almost latest polling on Trump’s approval rating at, eg, FiveThirtyEight, especially the Gallup Poll, and/or Real Clear Politics.)

Like other Democrats on US TV lately, Maher believes the followers of the historic donkey party are in trouble. He thinks they have to start aggressively re-thinking and re-organizing, with the November 3, 2020 election foremost in mind. (Or so at least his February 7 message struck me.)

I think Bill Maher effectively used his February 7 interview with Steve Bannon to make this point — which was then taken up on “Real Time” by a stimulating panel of Andrew Gillum, Sarah Isgur, and Ezra Klein, joined by Fareed Zakaria at the end.

But … “Trump slammed the phone down on Boris Johnson”

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson walk to a working breakfast at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. (Photo by Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP).

I am myself as worried as any non-right-wing fanatic who lives in Canada and does not vote in American elections can reasonably be.

Yet I do think as well that there are potential upsides for the cause of the free and democratic society in today’s American political turbulence. One of them is the headline : “Trump slammed the phone down on Boris Johnson after an ‘apoplectic’ call with the prime minister.”

In fact, that is to say (and contrary to the political thought of Steve Bannon), Donald Trump cannot get Boris Johnson across the sea to just do what Trump wants, in the depths of his possibly even religiously inspired leadership of the free world (or at least that part of it inside the USA today).

According to the Business Insider account by “Adam Bienkov Feb 7, 2020, 5:21 AM” : “President Donald Trump reportedly hung up on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson after what officials described as an ‘apoplectic’ call last week …

“Trump ended the call by ‘slamming the phone down,’ a source told the Evening Standard … The call, which one source described to the Financial Times as ‘very difficult,’ came after Johnson defied Trump and gave the Chinese telecoms company Huawei the rights to develop the UK’s 5G network …

“Trump’s fury was triggered by Johnson backing Huawei despite Trump and his allies’ threats that the United States would withdraw security cooperation with the UK if the deal went ahead … The Sun reported on Friday that Johnson had pushed back a planned trip to Washington to March, adding that it ‘may be pushed back still further.’”

Has Trump just peaked prematurely for November 3?

Even the lovely Bernie Sanders supporter AOC would vote for “Mike Bloomberg” on November 3 if he became the Democratic presidential candidate? Right?

Adam Bienkov’s report in full is worth looking at (as above or CLICK HERE) — for various intriguing details of life at two intermingling tops.

But the larger significance of this particular US-UK/Trump-Johnson dispute may be that the not-at-all-insignificant political forces in American society Donald Trump has so successfully managed to appoint (anoint?) himself leader of have peaked too early in 2020.

The self-willed optimistic note I’ve finally left my understanding of February 3–7, 2020 in American politics on is that I can somehow magically see signs the Democrats are in fact finally going to rise to the challenge Bill Maher and others on US TV have been raising.

Maher nicely ended his starting Steve Bannon interview with “I Wish We Had Someone On Our Side As Evil As You.” Yet the rest of his February 7 show with Andrew Gillum, Sarah Isgur, Ezra Klein, and Fareed Zakaria (to say nothing of the host himself) showed that our Democratic or just democratic side — bolstered by various anti-Trump Republicans and Independents — has lots of good people ready to play hardball (as Chris Matthews might say etc).

Is Michael Bloomberg one way ahead?

Donald Trump speaks to Michael Bloomberg during a memorial service in New York on 11 September 2016. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images.”

Maybe they are just starting to play in earnest now. And maybe they finally will choose Michael Bloomberg (who will choose Andrew Gillum as a VP running mate, say).

And the fact that seems so obvious in California today, eg — that Democrats in the end really are smarter and do have more money than Republicans — will on November 3 finally defeat Donald Trump (who doesn’t really have that much money at all, etc).

Steve Bannon thinks all this is something to make jokes about. But that’s because he does live in a political fantasyland. In fact, President Trump’s track record since he took office early in 2017 has been light years from one uninterrupted success story. He inherited a growing economy from the Obama administration — which he has not yet managed to sabotage. Beyond this virtually nothing he has done has made ultimate sense or shown any serious staying power (except his right-wing judicial appointments and impressive mass media savvy — and possibly NAFTA 2).

Mike Bloomberg on the Dallas Morning News in Texas, January 11, 2020.

Michael Bloomberg (who is so much richer than Trump in the real world) could be the guy to dramatize just how profoundly Donald Trump has failed on the issues that matter most to most Americans. Bill Clinton’s labor secretary Robert Reich (who now teaches at Berkeley) has reservations about Bloomberg (not unlike those that Steve Bannon finds amusing). But he also agrees that : “If the choice comes down to tyrant or oligarch, we must choose the latter.” [UPDATE FEB 19 : Reich has now come out as altogether opposed to a Bloomberg candidacy.]

Evolution of US-UK relationship between now and Democratic Convention in July

The ongoing development of the relationship between the Trump administration and the new Johnson government in the UK — between now and the July 13–16 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — may also say a lot about just how good shape the Trump Republicans are really (NOT) in for November 3.

President Trump in the past, eg, has at least briefly suggested that getting rid of the UK’s National Health Service could be one price of the kind of new US-UK trade deal that would make Brexit a practical success. (To level the playing field in both countries etc.)

Similar politically insane notions (from Boris Johnson’s point of view) may gradually start to drive home the point that even a Conservative UK today really does have more in common with the European Union than with Donald Trump’s USA. (And, more importantly for November 3, they could take some useful message to the US domestic electorate as well.)

Boris Johnson promoting his novel, Seventy-Two Virgins, some 15 years ago.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s analysis of Boris Johnson in the February 13, 2020 issue of the New York Review of Books (“The Opportunist Triumphant”) is far from laudatory. And no doubt the political constituencies of “Bojo” and “Trump” do have a few things in common. But my guess at the moment is that, as opportunistic as he may well be, Boris Johnson is not really very much like Donald Trump at all. (Johnson, eg, has actually written a novel — called Seventy-Two Virgins. As best as I can make out Donald Trump has never even read one.) [UPDATE FEB 19 : Bojo has more recently come under further fire from the Trump administration over Huawei — and from critics in Australia and even within his own party in the UK! I continue to wonder how worried he is about all this myself.]

Still much room for concern, of course …

I end on the note that there of course remain a good many reasons for me (and so many others like me) to be as worried as any non-right-wing fanatic who lives in Canada and does not vote in American elections can reasonably be.

But, in the midst of all the obvious sorrow surrounding the partisan impeachment of President Trump in the US House followed by his opposite partisan acquittal in the Senate, the underlying vibe I seem to be getting is that Democracy in America is far from dead yet!

UPDATE FEBRUARY 20 : A half-dozen key current articles online suggest a number of recent related developments. (I also understand the counterweights technical support experts in California currently seem to think Bernie Sanders is the man. I myself and a few others I know up north in Canada, where most of us don’t vote in US elections, are still thinking more seriously about the testy non-populist billionaire Mike Bloomberg.)

In more or less chronological order the articles are : “72% OF DEMOCRATIC VOTERS BELIEVE BERNIE SANDERS WOULD BEAT TRUMP IN 2020 ELECTION, NEW POLL SHOWS” (Newsweek) ; “Poll: Trump edges out all top 2020 Democratic candidates except Sanders” (The Hill) ; “‘MIKE WOULD HAVE DINNER PARTIES AND PISS ALL OVER OBAMA’: WHY OBAMAWORLD IS MAD ABOUT BLOOMBERG’S OBAMA” (Vanity Fair) ; “A VERY BAD NIGHT FOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG IN A CHAOTIC DEMOCRATIC DEBATE” (The New Yorker) ; “Winners and losers from the Democratic debate in Las Vegas … Make no mistake about it, Bloomberg had a dreadful night” (The Hill) ; Maybe Michael Bloomberg wasn’t as awful as he looked” (Raw Story).

My parting thoughts at almost 6 PM ET Feb 20 on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario are “It’s not over till it’s over” and (with apologies to Winston Churchill) : “the Americans finally do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else first.”

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