Billionaire Envy: The real reason Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg seek to unseat Trump

The late entrance and massive spending of two leftist billionaires, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has led to much speculation as to what's going on. The conventional answer for the entry is that these magnates were dissatisfied with the far-leftism on offer from the current crop of candidates. 

Yet it's not entirely satisfactory, given that they don't seem to be offering anything that's going to get votes, either. Bloomberg's pitch to voters is that he can win against Donald Trump. Steyer incessantly yaks about impeachment and global warming, two signature issues that are both bombs. He apparently didn't notice that Washington state governor, Jay Inslee, quite a qualified candidate by experience and past office alone, who made his platform entirely about green issues, washed out fast. As for Steyer's other signature issue, impeachment, he's already made a fool of himself for by running incessant ads for it just as President Trump took office because these ads went nowhere. He's now emerging as the toxic waste of the Democratic platform. Even blue city Democrats are starting to back away from it. Impeachment has got a bad smell that even to Democrats is starting to stink.

That's all he's about and boy is he spending money to signal that. According to Axios, he's spent more than any other candidate, $54.8 million, with Michael Bloomberg coming in second at $35.0 million. Trump is listed as the third billionaire on the Axios chart, spending $33.6 million, but that's an apples-to-oranges comparison given that it's not his money. It's just useful for Axios in order to say that they see a pattern of billionaires in the lead. No, it's really just two leftist billionaires shelling out from their hoards. Trump's running unopposed for one, meaning the entire Republican Party is in one place. More important, Trump's not spending his own money, in his case, small donors are reportedly sending him millions and millions in droves.

But Steyer and Bloomberg are spending up a storm from their own fortunes, getting little in terms of public support for their money (their poll rankings remain pitifully in low single digits) and they aren't doing much in terms of making a case for themselves at all. They aren't giving anyone a vote-able reason to voters to vote for them.

Steyer has wheeled out an old ad from August, played on television lately, and it was enough to make me discern what was really going on. Here's the ad:

Notice that it's entirely ad hominem, and not in a good way ad hominem, which is to focus on Trump's presidency and from the leftist perspective, claim it's found wanting. It could yell about Trump's demeanor and Tweets and sour reception in London or something if it were really about attacking the presidency. But it's not that, the ad is called "Trump is a Fraud" and it amounts to a different kind of identity politics, not a surprising thing given that Democrats are all about identity politics:

"Donald Trump failed as a businessman. He borrowed billions and left a trail of bankruptcy and broken promises. He hasn't changed. I started a tiny investment business, and over 27 years grew it successfully, to $36 billion. I'm Tom Steyer, and I approve this message."

 It's a glance back, way back, deep into the past, the past the voters already vetted Trump on in 2016 and gave him a pass on. Steyer, by contrast, is a better billionaire, because he was more successful in business -- as if the rigid godawful real estate business environment of blue New York could somehow be equated to Steyer's considerably easier venture capital and hedge fund place-your-bets financial success. Steyer apparently wants everyone to go back and revise that earlier judgment, which by the way, was thrown at Trump a lot back in 2016. He now wants them to say that Steyer is the Better Billionaire, because he made more money and ran into far fewer difficulties, including failures. On his logic, (and Bloomberg's too), the only reason Americans even elected Trump was because he was a billionaire, so why not elect a richer one?

I used to work for Forbes magazine, doing the billionaire's list. Billionaires are individuals, of course, but the one thing they all had in common was a sharp, almost extra-human attention to detail. Some were nice, some were not. Some were moral, some were not. Some were classy, some were not. Some were conventional, some were eccentric. Some were introverts, some were extraverts. Some were old money, some were self-made, and many were inherited-small-fortune-and-made-big-one. That last category would include Trump.

A certain number of them, though, were fiercely status-conscious in relation to other billionaires. They often wanted to make sure that they came out as the most worthy in relation to the other billionaires on the Forbes list, often as the one with highest net worth, and some literally opened their books to prove it, or in the case of one, verbally cited all of his huge holdings right off the top of his head on the phone. Like I said, detail-oriented. Trump himself wasn't beyond this, I didn't cover U.S. billionaires, or Trump himself, but I recall that Trump was one of those guys who'd sometimes get on the phone and insist he was richer than the Forbes reporter was able to satisfactorily estimate.  

In light of that experience, the only thing I can take away from that ad by Steyer is that he's on an ego trip, not to win love for voters, but to prove he outranks Trump.

"Why's Trump president when I'm not? Aren't I a better billionaire?"

Same with Bloomberg. It certainly would explain why they aren't offering anything to voters even as they spend up a storm. They view Trump's once-in-a-blue-moon feat of crashing through to the U.S. presidency without ever having held political office as an aberration, not something that came about through the will and choice of the voters, and they are asking themselves: Why him? Why not me? I'll be the billionaire in the White House since that's what voters want, because I'm a Better Billionaire.

Like we voted for Trump as if his being a billionaire mattered at all. All I can think from this is: These clowns haven't the first clue as to why we really voted for Trump.  

So they keep shelling out, imagining that the presidency is there for the taking because Americans want billionaires in the White House. It's nice to see that fool-and-his-money dynamic going strong here among these leftists as they burn through so much of their own cash for such pathetic results.

Image credit: Tom Steyer YouTube screen shot

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