As the votes are tabulated in Iowa — late, of course, thanks to “inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results” — one very important name that looms over the proceedings won’t be on too many of the ballots.
If you live in a Super Tuesday state and own a television, though, you’ve probably heard it enough.
The name is Michel Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and ultra-billionaire. Bloomberg isn’t really campaigning in the first four contests, which is an unusual strategy, but one that might pay off if former Vice President Joe Biden can only capture one of those states — South Carolina, where Biden has as much chance of losing as I do of winning.
That means Bernie Sanders, who the Democratic National Committee generally despises, would be the tentative front-runner.
It would also shatter the myth that Biden is a skillful organizer who can draw white, working-class voters.
If you’re Democrat-leaning voter looking for a moderate savior and neither Pete Buttigieg nor Amy Klobuchar has tickled your fancy thus far, Bloomberg isn’t an unreasonable choice.
Plus, he’s got an issue to go with those commercials. He’s an anti-gunner among anti-gunners, having been the astroturfer behind Everytown for Gun Safety, the March for Our Lives and other related causes.
It’s a popular matter, particularly if you’re got a story to go along with it.
And lo and behold, Bloomberg does.
Here was the former New York City mayor’s Super Bowl ad, which featured the mother of a “child” killed by “senseless” gun violence. We’ll examine the reason for those quotation marks in a second, but here’s the ad:
Doesn’t that just want to make you go out there, give up your firearm and become a Twitter warrior for gun control?
No? Well, let’s assume that it did. You may have wanted to know a few facts the commercial didn’t get entirely straight.
Let’s start with the numbers.
The ad claims that “2,900 children die from gun violence every year.”
Horrible, right? Also terribly misleading.
As Jacob Sullum noted over at Reason, this number isn’t just necessarily children. It’s also young adults — and the number includes suicides, too.
“According to to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FactCheck.org notes, the average number of firearm-related deaths involving Americans 17 or younger from 2013 through 2017 (the period used by Everytown for Gun Safety) was about 1,500, roughly half the number cited by Bloomberg,” Sullum wrote Sunday.
“Furthermore, nearly two-fifths of those deaths were suicides, meaning the number of minors killed each year by ‘gun violence,’ as that term is usually understood, is about 73 percent smaller than the figure cited in Bloomberg’s ad.”
Right, but what about the mother in the ad? That’s a pretty powerful story, no matter what the statistics might be.
That’s not even quite true, either, and it’s untruthful in the most cynical of ways.
Let’s be fair here: The ad isn’t technically incorrect. Calandrian Kemp’s son George was indeed shot to death.
George was also 20 — not necessarily a child — and killed during a 2013 confrontation at a park in a Houston suburb — a confrontation that a Texas appeals court described as “gang-related.”
“Witnesses told deputies they were riding with Kemp in Kemp’s vehicle. Kemp drove to the Lakemont subdivision to confront Brandon Lacour over a personal matter. Kemp parked down the street from Lacour’s residence and called him on his cell phone, challenging Lacour, 17, to a fight. Lacour showed up with several other persons, all riding in Lacour’s vehicle,” the Houston Chronicle reported in September 2013.
“Lacour and his passengers exited the vehicle and approached Kemp. One of Lacour’s passengers was carrying a hand gun. Witnesses told deputies that Lacour told the subject with the gun to shoot George Kemp, which he did.”
Let the attacks begin.
“Bloomberg cherry-picked aspects of the story to push his agenda. Bloomberg pushes for confiscation of guns and stripping regular Americans of our right to self-defense while he enjoys armed security 24/7. He sees America as his kingdom, and the rest of us as his peasants.”
The Bloomberg campaign, meanwhile, stood by the ad.
“Ask any grieving parent whose 18- or 19-year-old son or daughter was shot and killed, and they will tell you they lost a child,” a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson told Fox.
“There are simply too many of these deaths, and Mike has a plan to prevent them with common-sense gun safety laws.”
Politicians lie. That’s what they do.
That being said, as lies of omission go, I can’t see how you can get more serious than this.
A mother who lost her 20-year-old “child” to senseless violence (because he was involved in a gang confrontation) is telling us that her poor child — who we’re supposed to infer is innocent as the driven snow — was lost in a random shooting.
Question this and we’re told that “[a]sk any grieving parent whose 18- or 19-year-old son or daughter was shot and killed, and they will tell you they lost a child.”
Iowa may prove that there isn’t any clear choice among the Democratic candidates.
That being said, Michael Bloomberg isn’t the moderate that you’re looking for. For all of his talk about a holistic campaign message, he’s a one-issue candidate who’s willing to lie about that one issue.
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