By Ken StoneAt 83, San Diego journalism legend Don Bauder is guarding his health — playing hermit at home (to avoid the flu) and venturing out only for doctor visits.
He’s backing Mike Bloomberg for president.
“Here I am finally making headway against the heart problems … and now I am considered a candidate for the loony bin,” Bauder said by email Wednesday.
“If exercise and multiple trips to doctors and hospitals will repair my brain as they seem to have helped my heart, I feel I can thwart oncoming dementia, although I have never claimed that I am either stable or a genius as President Donald Trump has. I am at least stable enough to hope that my candidate will not choke on verbal borscht, as Trump does almost every day.”
Bauder isn’t wearing beet-colored glasses, though.
He concedes that the former New York City mayor once stated that if women wanted to be known for their intelligence, they would spend less time at Bloomingdale’s and more time at the library.
“Bloomberg called the remark a ‘Borscht Belt joke,’” Bauder said.
The former San Diego Union-Tribune financial editor also noted that Bloomberg once stated that 95% of murderers “are male minorities, 15 to 25” who deserve to be pushed “up against the wall.”
Bauder adds: “Democrats desperately need the votes of women, African-Americans and Latinos. New Yorkers have told me that those minorities will never forget, although Bloomberg has renounced his widely criticized stop-and-frisk policy that clearly discriminated against minorities while he was mayor of New York.”
But it wasn’t until former U-T colleague Logan Jenkins outed himself as a Bloomberg fan that Bauder also emerged from the closet — at least locally.
Bauder wrote Times of San Diego:
As a former newspaper columnist and magazine writer, I agree wholeheartedly with Logan Jenkins. After a lot of pondering, I have concluded that Bloomberg is the ideal Democratic candidate. I started out backing Biden, but have become quite disenchanted. Unlike Trump, Bloomberg is a self-made billionaire.
Unlike Trump, who is clearly a sociopath on steroids, as well as a pathological liar and malignant psychotic narcissist, Bloomberg is eminently stable — and also brilliant, as he proved in his business career and as mayor of New York City. I would add one thing to what Logan says: we desperately need a female on the ticket. As shown in 2018, females can see through Trump.
I would suggest Kamala Harris; her minority status would help balance the ticket. I worry that Bloomberg’s stop and frisk mistake will continue to turn off minorities.
Like Bloomberg, Bauder is a former Republican. (From 1960 to 1964, when he was in advertising and PR, Bauder voted for Richard Nixon.)
Since 2004, he says, he’s voted for Democratic presidential candidates.
“This year, however, I had problems,” he wrote Wednesday. “I feared that both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had gone too far. I don’t like Medicare for All. Those who want to keep their private plans should be able to do so. I can’t see free higher education for all. Frankly, I think too many students are in college now.”
Bauder calls student debt a cancerous problem, but can’t see canceling it out.
“Should we reimburse those who have already paid off their debt? I can’t see giving stipends to families descended from slaves,” he said. “If anybody deserves to be paid off, it’s Native Americans, from whom we stole our country.”
He said his “cautious views” left him with moderate choices.
“I originally favored Joe Biden, but became disenchanted quickly. I liked Amy Klobuchar from the beginning, and I am happy to see her rising fast,” he said. “Pete Buttigieg is quite intelligent but needs seasoning. Ditto Tom Steyer.”
Bauder considers the 2020 election critical.
“Four more years of Trump would be disastrous,” he said. “Yes, I am concerned about more Russian hacking. Given the close 2016 races in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, we should all worry about Russian hacking this year.”
Climate change is the most critical issue for Bauder “because if the world doesn’t do more to curb greenhouse gases, the world as we know it may suffocate by the end of the century.”
This interview was conducted via email.
Times of San Diego: What does Mike Bloomberg offer?
Don Bauder: First: money. Lots of it. He’s worth close to $60 billion, making him 14th-richest in the world, according to Forbes. Unlike Trump, Bloomberg made the money himself. And he is ACTUALLY worth that.
Trump may not even be a billionaire, despite his claims to be worth $10 billion. The biggest advantage of Bloomberg’s wealth is that he can flood the nation with ads showing that Trump is a phony. Indeed, Bloomberg is already doing that, but you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.
The Democratic Party is hurting for money. Bloomberg is NEEDED. He has not alienated the business community. Right now, money is flowing to Republican coffers because big business — particularly pharmaceuticals, insurance, oil and the like — is terrified of Sanders and Warren. That river of cash will slow down if the leftists are out of the picture.
As he has proved as New York mayor, Bloomberg is socially liberal and progressive. He supports abortion rights, government-funded stem cell research, same-sex marriage, gun control, environmentalism and routes to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
He is strong on public welfare and is a national leader in the battle against climate change. He wants to enhance the earned income tax credit. But unlike the other candidates, he has support from many in the business community. He is in favor of free trade. He is a fiscal conservative. He balanced New York City’s budget. Facing a crisis, he talked a Republican state Senate into passing a tax increase rather than slashing jobs.
He opposes wealth inequality — proposing, for example, that his own taxes should go up. He says generally that taxes for the rich should rise. He would raise corporate taxes from 21% to 28% percent — not enough in my judgment, but a good start.
He dislikes the fact that taxes on stock and bond gains are lower than income taxes. He would enhance worker rights and benefits although he has never been considered pro-union. He wants a $15 an hour minimum wage. He favors government-financed welfare projects. He believes rural communities should be more closely connected with urban centers.
During his political career, he has been a Republican, an independent and a Democrat. He knows his way around politics, having been mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013.
He cracked one time that a short Jew would never be elected president, but I question that. He will absolutely eat up Trump in a debate. It will be obvious that he is 10 times smarter than Trump.
(Bauder cites the same metric in the San Diego mayor’s race, saying he favors Barbara Bry “because of her intelligence.”)
Your journalism career is marked by major investigations into scam artists and political boondoggles. What gives you confidence that Bloomberg has genuine concern for the common good and not himself and his affluent cohort?
He favors corporate welfare — corporate projects partly funded by government. I consider most such projects to be scams, although few others do. As mayor of New York, he has warned the citizenry of scam artists on the loose. But early in his mayoral term he vetoed a bill against predatory lending.
Why should Sen. Kamala Harris be Bloomberg’s running mate?
First, the Democrats must have a female on the ticket — on the top of the ticket or the vice president. If Bloomberg is at the top, a female must run for the second slot. A minority female would be greatly preferred. Kamala Harris fills that bill. Stacey Abrams or Oprah Winfrey (who says she doesn’t want it) would also be excellent.
If Bloomberg doesn’t break out in Super Tuesday voting, will he have a shot at winning enough delegates to prevail at Milwaukee Democratic National Convention?
If Bloomberg does poorly, he will have to consider dropping out. If he does drop out, he should continue giving his planned donations to the Democratic Party. Ditto Tom Steyer. Both must continue to give if they are no longer candidates. The Democratic Party is not in good financial shape. If Bloomberg loses, I would hope Sherrod Brown, senator of Ohio, would get in the race.
Bloomberg has credibility from his mayor terms and gun-control and climate-change work. But he was elected in a very liberal environment. Could he challenge Trump in red states?
You make a good point that Bloomberg might not go over well in red states where uneducated voters are abundant. Many Americans hate New Yorkers — unfortunately, often for good reasons. But although Bloomberg is short in stature, many voters will realize that he would be the real alpha male in the race. He is tough and knowledgeable. … He would take hard stands on many issues.
Handicap a Trump vs. Sanders contest.
Trump has already called Sanders a communist — not a socialist, which he is. So we would have a rerun of Joe McCarthy. If Trump continues to call Sanders a communist, Democrats should call Trump and his ilk fascists. Down and dirty. I think Sanders would take the West Coast and most of the East Coast, including Florida.
But Trump would take states where education levels are low — the South, and Northern states such as Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and other traditionally red (redneck?) states. Colorado, New Mexico and even possibly Arizona could go for Sanders.
Ohio, Indiana and Iowa could go red and Wisconsin and Minnesota might go blue. Illinois could stay blue. Much depends on whether Americans realize that Trump is a pathological liar, sociopath, malignant psychotic narcissist. He seems totally out of control now.
Critics like Paul Heideman call Bloomberg a classic oligarch — using his wealth to tilt the economic and political playing field in his favor. Can voters trust someone who uses vast wealth to gain support? How is billionaire Bloomberg better suited to the Oval Office than billionaire Steyer (or anyone else)?
Paul Heideman has a point…. You are correct that some voters will see how many ads he spreads around and hold his wealth against him. But these people could be swayed by the wave of advertising.
What Bloomberg can do is massively sponsor ads that emphasize that Trump is a liar — showing him saying one thing one day and the opposite the next day. Also, such ads could show that Trump’s claims about the economy on his watch are false.
For example, Trump keeps repeating that the economy has done better under him than at other times. This is laughably false. GDP is growing a little over 2% now and there have been many times when it grew 3% and even 4%. Trump says unemployment is the lowest ever, and that is also false. These ads can also show Trump at his most vulgar. That might even go over well in redneck territory, however. Trump’s racism through his dog whistles could be emphasized in certain markets but not in redneck areas.
Would Bloomberg address wealth inequality?
Bloomberg is strongly opposed to wealth inequality and says his own taxes should go up. However, he would only raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. That’s not enough, in my judgment. He believes income taxes for the rich should be boosted. He is also disgusted that taxes on stock and bond profits are lower than taxes on incomes.
He complains that economic growth is concentrated in a small number of regions. He would enhance worker rights and benefits although he has never been known as pro-union — a possible negative. He wants a $15 minimum wage. He favors government-financed welfare projects. He would like to see rural communities better connected to urban growth centers. He wants to see research and development in regions needing development.
How is your health?
I saw my cardiologist just two weeks ago. I asked him if I was a candidate for a stent in my two arteries that are only moderately good. He said no. (Background: I have had two quadruple-bypass surgeries. The last one was in 1990. On average, the grafts last 30 years.) But cardiologists (I have had several) say this does not mean I have only two years to go.
The heart itself seems to be OK, but the concern is arteries or grafts from previous surgeries filling up. I will be 84 in May. I don’t expect to make it to 90, but with lots of luck I may get half or a third of the way there.
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