Americans on Wednesday will get their first live glimpse at former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is set to debate in Las Vegas, a chance to see what the candidate is really about.
Which is very necessary, because online, no one knows what’s real about Bloomberg anymore.
The candidate’s march to the upper half of national polls—fueled by his personal wealth of over $60 billion—has been beset by ironic memes, sincere mockery, and frequent parody. The candidate’s own wooden delivery, lack of emotion, and love of technocracy help fuel this, leaving everyone online to believe both everything and nothing about the candidate.
Take the “Moves Like Bloomberg” parody video that swept the internet a few months ago. Would a bunch of Bloomberg supporters clunkily groove to the mellifluous tone of Adam Levine? It seemed impossible, but it also seemed … kinda possible.
And when the guy behind the video pretended to be fired? Well, Bloomberg’s reputation for ruthless business practices made it seem all the more plausible.
Tonight is the debate, and according to reports, Bloomberg has been holed up preparing.
We will return to that in a second. But on the campaign trail, here are some things he said this week.
“[Trump] calls me little Mike. My answer is Donald, where I come from we measure height from the neck up,” he said.
Bloomberg at his second event today in NC: Trump “calls me little Mike. My answer is Donald, where I come from we measure height from the neck up.”— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) February 13, 2020
That doesn’t make any sense because it’s not a common saying. It confused Twitter users.
Likewise, in Texas, he said: “Now if I were from Texas,” Bloomberg said, “I might say Donald Trump is scared as a cat at the dog pound. But since I’m from New York, I put it this way. We’re scaring the living hell out of him, and we’re just starting right now.”
Mike Bloomberg: "Now if I were from Texas, I might say Donald Trump is scared as a cat at the dog pound. But since I'm from New York, I put it this way. We're scaring the living hell out of him, and we're just starting right now." pic.twitter.com/HmNwKuTPZL— The Hill (@thehill) February 14, 2020
Is that an idiom from Texas? It’s unclear.
But even if it was, who would use it running for president? If you encountered that tweet without a video behind it, you could just as easily assume someone was making fun of Bloomberg.
It’s just not normal “relatable” campaign stuff—or at least, that’s not how it’s landing. And all of this is to say nothing of his shady meme influencer campaign, which is designed to inculcate Bloomberg from parody by being a parody in its own right.
Which brings us back to the debate. Former Bloomberg public relations specialist Arick Weirson had this to say over the course of two tweets on Tuesday.
@MikeBloomberg and @Mike2020 have barbs at the ready for everyone on the debate stage on Wednesday:— Arick Wierson (@ArickWierson) February 18, 2020
For @BernieSanders: “Your approach to everything is ‘pie-in-the-sky’ – it’s as if you are seeking to become the new lead singer of #Nirvana, not President of the United States.”
“@MikeBloomberg and @Mike2020 have barbs at the ready for everyone on the debate stage on Wednesday: For @BernieSanders: “Your approach to everything is ‘pie-in-the-sky’ – it’s as if you are seeking to become the new lead singer of #Nirvana, not President of the United States,” Wierson wrote. “For @ewarren: “Maybe @BernieSanders needs a back-up singer at #Nirvana.”
Wierson worked for Bloomberg when he was mayor, as a communications strategist for eight years, although his most recent work in politics was helping elect the far-right Brazilian leader Jai Bolsonaro. According to the New York Post, Wierson is not involved in debate prep, so it’s not clear if those are legitimate insults Bloomberg plans on doling out tonight. But would you be surprised if that happened? No.
As for what relationship Nirvana has to the phrase “pie in the sky,” every attempt at discerning some semblance of meaning is for naught. They don’t have a song about it and have never used the phrase.
It’s possible he’s just talking about Nirvana being a blissful state of existence, but… who the heck knows right now.
And in that sense, it is the perfect metaphor for what’s going on with the internet and Mike Bloomberg.