We have the curious case of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the three-time mayor of the great city of New York, who spent $261 million to win the mayoralty thrice, and spent even more of his own money on his beloved city. Monday, February 3, is the day Iowans, both Democrats and Republicans, caucus, starting at 7 pm. Yes, 7 in the evening, not morning. While the caucusing of Democrats and Republicans differ in some details, the party faithful gather to discuss the presidential hopefuls and elect local party leaders in this real start of the 2020 presidential race. Like anything American, caucusing is complicated, time-consuming, and costly, and it is only those who don’t mind the cold, who have time on their hands, and who are committed politically who will end up caucusing.
Why does Iowa get first dibs at selecting the winner? Well, it is yet another quirk of American history, about which you can read here, and wonder how many tens of millions of dollars have been spent to inform, educate, woo, and persuade mostly white people in the middle of the winter, in a very, very cold place. But it is all ready for caucusing, and tomorrow is the day when talking heads on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NPR will spend all day going round in circles, speculating and suggesting who will emerge successful, and who did well, and who lost steam. For Republicans, there is only Donald Trump, the man who has never walked a straight line in his life, and who, seemingly like the cat, has a way of landing on his feet even though a million charges have been launched against him. Give this man his due, wretched and garbled as his speech is!
It is the Democrats we are watching, and after the last week of impeachment hearings in the Senate, which not many people tuned in to watch/listen to, it is off to the Iowa races: is Bernie going to win, or is it going to be Biden? Will Buttigieg (don’t bother to find out what the right pronunciation of the name is, dear Indian readers) make a break, take the lead, and have MSNBC folks sing hosannas to “Mayor Pete”? What about Elizabeth Warren, who was doing so well till about a few weeks ago, and then got stumped when asked how she would pay for the major healthcare overhaul she promised if she became president. She has been endorsed by the leading newspaper in Iowa, as well as by The New York Times, but newspaper endorsements like labour union endorsements only go so far in enabling a politician to cross the winning post first in this post-mainstream media, post-labour union era.
Given these front-runners, three of them in their 70s, and one half their age, who should Indian Americans be rooting for? For a long while, we have voted Democratic, and in this political season too, we have given more money to the Democrats than to Republicans and to Donald Trump, and the “Samosa Caucus” in the Congress, with four Indian-American representatives, has a leftward tilt, with the likes of Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna more keen on dissing Hindu Americans and showing their solidarity with Bernie Sanders’ “socialist brigade” than anything really progressive: Ro Khanna is the co-chair of Sanders’ campaign, and his net worth of $27 million, just allows, we can presume, to squeak him in as a socialist from California, and it could also very well be argued that $26 million of the $27 million is “brown skin liability” (Ok, ok, just kidding!). Jayapal, who has endorsed Sanders, and in her spare time scolded India’s foreign minister, has been busy talking to Iowans in the company of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. She is in good left/liberal territory, actually identified as a leading voice, and the three Congresswomen make for an interesting trio, with their attention and focus on changing Iowans’ ideas of white and brown, we can suppose: one small socialist step for Iowan kind, one large leap of political imagination altogether! The hijab and the sari caucus, we may think of them as belonging to, but with very differing ideas of what to protect, defend, and support of their own!
Sanders, however, has been targeted by fellow Democrats — for not being a Democrat (he is an Independent); not having done anything meaningful legislatively over the past three decades; would potentially lose against Trump, and so on and so forth. There was also the spat between him and Sen. Warren when she accused him of saying that a woman would not be able to win the presidency. Who knows what really was said in their meeting in 2018, but it seemed a last-ditch effort by Sen. Warren to slow down the fellow septuagenarian, the irascible socialist who has not really achieved much anything legislatively, except to have a couple of post offices renamed. But he is a great campaigner and he truly was robbed of the Democratic Party nomination last time by the not-so-skilled skunk-works of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who still bitter about her loss to Trump has characterized Sanders as being disliked by everyone. The Clinton machine continues to work in the background, but leaks if any from the Clinton mill is carefully edited out by the activist editors of the big media houses.
Then there is Joe Biden, who should have taken the sage advice of his boss, Barack Obama, and hung up his boots, and kept his hat on his head rather than throwing it into the ring. But he is the one that many political pundits claim can beat Donald Trump, but when it comes to his son, Hunter, who scores very high on the Trump-o-meter sleaze scale, then Biden can be undone. Think of it — if Biden were to become the Democratic Party candidate, and however much the mainstream media would coordinate in squelching any story about Hunter Biden, it will be open political TV ad season, and it will get dirty! A true sleaze fest will be in store, with the coke-snorting, baby-making shenanigans of Biden Jr., all over America’s billboards, TV screens, and smart-phone alerts.
Buttigieg remains standing, and we don’t know how, but he will get some cabinet position if Joe Biden wins, or he may run for senator and find out that he does not really have enough votes in Indiana. Amy Klobuchar is also still standing, and has been endorsed by The New York Times (ah, who cares anymore…), and could also get a cabinet position if Biden wins. All doubtful, except in the studios of MSNBC and CNN!
Back to Bloomberg who now has already spent $180 million to upend the presidential race. Some say he can win the presidential race if he spent $500 million, and some speculate he could spend up to $1 billion. But if your current net worth is $50 billion, what is a billion dollars in the pursuit of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? And if we consider it, a candidate like Bloomberg can be an attractive candidate to a lot of voters – those who are concerned about the leftward, idiosyncratic, wokey, “let us butt into every other country’s internal policy initiatives” overreach of the Democrats, or the sleaze and the criminality of Donald Trump’s three years in office. It would be interesting what the Indian astrologers have to say about it, and if they have been able to get hold of the birth-chart of the mayor, and make their forecast for November 2020. Bloomberg too is a septuagenarian, and while he has the best doctors in town minding his body, there is only so much Lipitor can do. But a break, even of one term, from the impossibly distracting presidency of Trump, would surely be welcome!