On Tuesday Feb. 12th, a few short hours before Bernie Sanders won the most votes in the New Hampshire primary and a few short days after he’d won the most votes in Iowa, the high-profile New York Times columnist Tom Friedman published an opinion column under the following sub-headline:
“Democrats need to nominate the right person to prevent Trump from winning a second term.”
Just above that, Friedman’s main headline made it perfectly clear who he thinks the “right person” to beat President Trump is:
“Paging Mike Bloomberg.”
“In an age when political extremists go all the way, and moderates tend to just go away, Bloomberg has the right stuff — a moderate progressive with a heart of gold but the toughness of a rattlesnake — for what is going to be an incredibly big, brutal task,” Friedman argued, dismissing Sanders as a nonstarter.
“On which planet in the Milky Way galaxy is an avowed ‘socialist’ … going to defeat the Trump machine this year?” Friedman wrote.
The column — or endorsement, really — rocketed around social media in the hours after it appeared online. Moderate media figures trumpeted Friedman’s take, characterizing it as “excellent” and “exceedingly convincing.” Progressives, meanwhile, cited it as further evidence that the multibillionaire former New York mayor’s campaign is nothing but a media creation, and that Bloomberg himself has no real constituency outside of the green rooms of MSNBC and CNN and the quiet car of the Amtrak Acela train between Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Unsurprisingly, Friedman’s disclosure at the bottom of the column — “Bloomberg Philanthropies has donated to Planet Word, the museum my wife is building in Washington” — triggered tons of “aha!” tweets on the left. And even Trump got in on the act, telling reporters Tuesday that he “would rather run against Bloomberg than Bernie Sanders … because Sanders has real followers,” as opposed to Bloomberg, who is “just buying his way in.”
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