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Column: Democrats have their own rogue

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston.
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston.(David J. Phillip/AP)

It is truly a devastating sight to watch liberals who have winced for years at Donald Trump’s issues on wealth, race and women allow fear, propaganda and influence mercenaries to push them into supporting a man who has his own issues concerning wealth, women and race.

It is jaw-dropping to see people who have long centered morality and conviction as their guiding light willfully say that they are willing to forgo all that. How many of them relentlessly chastised the religious right for supporting Trump, who openly disregards many of their tenets? Some of these very same people are now willing to do exactly the same thing as Trump.

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How many people rightly complaining about kids in cages at the border are simply willing to overlook all the kids Michael Bloomberg put in cages as a result of stop-and-frisk? How many people, who stormed Washington during the Women’s March, cheered #MeToo and recoiled in horror as Trump was accused by multiple women of sexual impropriety, are now willing to ignore the accusations against Bloomberg?

And for what? It’s not as if Democrats don’t have viable candidates to choose from, none of whom even come close to the scale of Bloomberg’s transgressions.

But the campaign and many political pundits are pushing one talking point, hard: that no one else can defeat Trump but Bloomberg. The polls simply do not bear that out. All the top Democrats beat Trump in head-to-head matchups, and Bernie Sanders beats him by the same margin as Bloomberg.

Furthermore, many voters have bought into the hopeful, cheerful Bloomberg shown in his barrage of ads. Many have begun to associate him with the positivity and hope of Barack Obama, whom Bloomberg heavily features in one of the spots. Conversely, others revel at the attack ads that Bloomberg is already running against Trump.

The ads have dual duties: The positive ones aim to erase the negative feeling associated with his racist police policy and the horrible allegations about women. The attack ad is intended to signal that he is just as base and ruthless and fight-prone as Trump and that he has the personal wealth to wage war.

This latter point is particularly attractive to Democrats worried that Trump will outsmart, outfight and outspend the other candidate. These Democrats want their own rogue.

That’s exceedingly dangerous. Bloomberg was a Republican mayor. He agrees with liberals on some policies, but he is by no means a liberal. Not at all.

Tim O’Brien, Bloomberg’s senior adviser, appeared on MSNBC on Sunday morning and tried to defend Bloomberg once again over stop-and-frisk, among other things. But in so doing, he offered a damning and cautionary tale about the nature of the man. O’Brien said:

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“I think he’s a stubborn man who has believed in a lot of social programs that he rammed through because he thought they were difficult, and he thought they were proper.”

That doesn’t sound like the kind of leader liberals should want. Civil liberties groups, researchers and writers kept telling him that what he was doing was causing massive damage, was probably ineffective, and was racist and unconstitutional. He mocked his detractors, and the terror campaign ballooned.

O’Brien went on to say: “He was incredibly wrong on this. Again, it was egregious. He will continue to apologize to people of color for the rest of his career.”

But here’s the problem: Bloomberg didn’t just make a mistake, a one-time occurrence. He shepherded this program for 12 years and defended it for nearly 20. He only apologized a few months ago when he decided to run for president.

I don’t believe that there is an ounce of sincerity in that apology. Not one. I think Bloomberg still believes this year what he believed last year: that all those young black and brown boys and men caught up in his dragnet were unfortunate collateral damage in his righteous crusade.

The way Bloomberg and his campaign have talked about the policy has not been forthright. How does one offer a sincere apology that purposefully misstates the truth?

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As a CNN fact-check points out, “He has also offered a misleading narrative that omits key facts about his history with the policy.”

For instance, the fact-check points out:

“Bloomberg has touted a 95% reduction in the use of stop-and-frisk. But he has not specified that this sharp decline came only after a 605% spike in the use of stop-and-frisk over his first 10 years in office — and that, if you start the clock at the beginning of his mayoralty rather than in his 11th year, he presided over an increase, not a decrease.”

I’m already disgusted by Trump’s lies. Voters are tired of being lied to. Black voters in particular are tired of being lied to. Bloomberg knows that he is twisting the truth here. He just hopes you won’t notice.

I don’t trust Bloomberg. When he had political power, he used it to harm. I don’t ever want to see him with political power again, “ramming through” social programs that harm vulnerable people.

He has done some admirable work as a private citizen. A private citizen is what he should remain.

c.2020 The New York Times Company

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