As far as presidential debates go, last night’s between the Democratic nominees finally reached Real Housewives reunion levels of antipathy. Much of the ire was directed at Bernie Sanders, whose frontrunner status has made him a target. Elizabeth Warren said that while she agreed with Sanders on many issues, she was the fighter who could get things done. Pete Buttigieg bizarrely tweeted (then deleted) that Sanders was nostalgic “for the revolutionary politics of the 1960’s [sic].” Michael Bloomberg, over his two debates, has targeted Bernie’s democratic socialist affiliation.
And after putting in another miserable debate performance – a panel of NYT experts gave him a harsh review – Bloomberg released a hat that continued this line of attack on Sanders. The hat, now available for pre-order on Bloomberg’s merch shop, reads on the front: “Not a Socialist.” On the back is the phrase “Bring in the Boss.”
To the surprise of no one except maybe the Bloomberg campaign, the hat – debuted Wednesday via tweet – was not received well online. The top tweets in reply include mentions of Bloomberg’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and an image of the hat Photoshopped with a guillotine.
This is roughly the form of response for most Bloomberg Twitter activity, but the hat is unique: It's both troll-y and factually inaccurate! The copy for the hat on Bloomberg’s merch shop – the little bit that tells you something about the garment – relays a 2019 Pew Research study that found that “twice as many Americans have a positive impression of capitalism than socialism.” That’s not totally off base: A 2019 Pew study found that only 42 percent of respondents viewed socialism positively, compared to 65 percent who were in favour of capitalism. However, the Pew study also found that Democrats actually have a more generally positive view of socialism than capitalism (65 percent versus 55 percent). One of the biggest criticisms often levied at Bloomberg is that he’s more closely aligned with Republicans than Democrats: He was a registered Republican from 2001 until 2007, and an Independent until 2018. As Warren pointed out recently, Bloomberg has also spent a lot of money funding campaigns for GOP members like Lindsey Graham. This hat is another point against Bloomberg. Look, ad copy is hard: Not everything needs to be some cleverly caps-locked Palace koan. But it shouldn’t be so difficult to get the facts straight.
The bit that really made people confused-angry, though, is the “Bring in the Boss” text on the back. Is the Bloomberg campaign really sure that bringing up Mike’s record as a boss is the best move here? In the past two debates, his competitors have happily brought up what happens when you quote-unquote "Bring in the Boss": racist policies like stop-and-frisk, if you make the boss the mayor, and a trail of sexual-harassment allegations and ominous NDAs, if you make the boss...the boss.
Lastly, to finish on GQ’s area of expertise: The hat design is – and this is the technical fashion-critic term – bad. If you’re going to try and get in on the ever-raging Dad Cap trend, do it right.