Columns

Comedy on the Campaign Trail

Michael Bloomberg wants to become the 46th president of the United States. Source: Boss Tweed / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

As a spectator sport, politics has rarely been more entertaining. Put aside for the moment the stakes involved, with partisans on both sides claiming that the upcoming election is “the most important in history,” (as was the last one, and the one before that, but this time they really mean it), and take the time to enjoy the pure comedy of it all.

We were told by our educated betters in the media that with the installation of Donald Trump as president the country and the world would face certain decline, with unchecked chaos at home and even worse disorder abroad. Now, three years in, one casts an eye for evidence of such turmoil and finds little. Now those same educated betters inform us that their dire predictions did not come to pass because Mr. Trump has kept his totalitarian impulses largely in check under the burden of a reelection campaign and that if we are so foolish as to return him to office in November those impulses will be unleashed to the peril of civilization.

But consider: our friends on the left, having nominated a losing candidate in 2016, have had these intervening years to find a better one … and this is the group they have thus far settled on: an ancient socialist who has already suffered one heart attack, a youthful mayor of a small Midwestern city, a senator and former law professor who owes her early advancement in academia to a false claim of Native American heritage, a heretofore little-known Midwestern senator, and a doddering former vice president who failed spectacularly in two previous presidential campaigns. How can you not laugh?

And when the time came for these candidates to finally face the voters in the Iowa caucuses, an event most eagerly awaited by the Democratic Party and their allies in the media, the actual results wouldn’t be known for days. But it wasn’t a case of hanging chads or ballots that disappeared or were mysteriously found in the trunk of some precinct worker’s car. No, the Democrats were unable to accurately count the number of actual human beings who were corralled, coaxed, or cajoled into this or that corner of some school gymnasium in Dubuque, Des Moines, or Davenport. You just can’t make this stuff up.

And now, as Joe Biden recedes into the ignominy he has earned, seeming more and more every day a candidate for a straightjacket rather than the White House, some Democrats look hopefully for a candidate who, unlike the others, may have a chance of defeating Donald Trump in November, someone who can appeal to blue-collar Midwestern voters and return Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to the blue column. That candidate, they have concluded, is Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York. Yes, gentle readers, this is comedy gold.

Although Bloomberg has yet to compete in a primary or appear in a debate, some are calling him the man to beat, this owing to the uninspiring if not unhinged roster of remaining candidates. (If only Beto had hung in there.) And with Bloomberg’s emergence as a threat comes inevitably the “oppo,” short for opposition research, some of which has been intended to foster the preposterous notion that Bloomberg is a racist.

In the upside-down moral universe of the left, one of the current fashions is an emphasis on “social justice.” As a reminder, note that when the word “justice” is used with an adjective placed before it, it is not actual justice being discussed but rather something else entirely. Social justice can be distinguished from plain, simple justice by its emphasis on not punishing lawbreakers in the misguided belief that communities are somehow improved when criminals are released from jail or not placed there in the first place. (This would be comedic too if it weren’t for the consequences.)

Characteristically of the left, Bloomberg is being branded as a racist for actions he took as mayor that helped black residents of New York, specifically, his continuation of the tough-on-crime policies that began under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his police commissioner William Bratton. Those policies included proactive measures intended to deter street crime of the type that had turned much of the city into a dystopian war zone. One of those measures, the most controversial of them, came to be known as stop-and-frisk.

The very term has been branded as racist based on the fact that the number of blacks and Hispanics stopped and frisked by police in New York was disproportionate to their share of the population. Gentle readers, when you see stop and arrest rates for this or that ethnic group compared with that group’s share of the overall population, you know you are being hoodwinked. It is the criminal offender pool that must be compared to the stop and arrest rates, and in New York City — as is the case in any other city you can name — it is blacks and Hispanics who commit the vast majority of violent crime.

In 2018, blacks were 72.6 percent of the shooting suspects in New York City, and Hispanics were 24.1 percent (see page 12 of this NYPD report). Blacks and Hispanics were also 73.3 and 22.4 percent of the city’s shooting victims, respectively, so it should be beyond saying (but sadly isn’t) that curtailing shooting incidents will be a balm to those communities. Arrests for firearm possession closely mirrored these statistics (see page 13 of the same report), so it’s clear that, by the benchmark that matters, there is no racial disproportion among the arrestees.

Bloomberg, fearful of the racist label sticking despite its lack of a factual basis, has apologized for stop-and-frisk, in essence saying he regrets the tactic that brought about crime reductions few thought were possible. The NYPD investigated 2,262 murders in 1990; in 2019 the number was 319. This decrease would not have been possible without the proactive measures, stop-and-frisk chief among them, initiated by leaders unafraid of political backlash.

Today Bloomberg, like every other Democratic candidate, responds only to the backlash. Woe be to the country if any one of these people is elected. The result wouldn’t be funny.