Political junkies like you and me will get most or all of them. But I’d kill to watch a focus group of working people who pay attention to politics for maybe 20 minutes a day — 90 percent of the country, I figure — try to make heads or tails of the spot.

To understand how this is a troll of Trump, first you need to watch Trump’s Super Bowl ad.


Now here’s Team Bloomberg’s quick-cut reply, uploaded last night to Twitter and already creeping up on a million views:

What the political junkie sees: “Okay, that’s some of the ‘very fine people’ from the alt-right at the Charlottesville rally. Then we see illegals being detained and kids sleeping under foil blankets, an allusion to Trump’s family separation policy. Then a quick shot of Emma Gonzalez, one of the student activists from the Marjorie Stoneham Douglas school shooting, plus teenagers crying, a reference to gun violence. Then there’s Trump cavalierly tossing paper towels to desperate Puerto Ricans during his visit to the island after Hurricane Maria. Then that freakish incident after Hurricane Dorian when he altered the map of the hurricane’s projected path so that he didn’t have to admit that he had been wrong when he said it threatened Alabama. Then, uh, his hair blowing around in the wind and looking unkempt. Then Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testifying; no doubt Team Bloomy believes her testimony over his. Then a protester objecting to Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military. Then Bill Barr testifying. Then that crazy moment during Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore when he saluted a North Korean military officer. And then Trump shaking hands with Putin.”

My best guess at what the political non-junkie sees: “Some guys with … torches? Okay, then some illegals being rounded up at the border. Kids crying for some reason. Is that … Trump shooting a roll of paper towels like a basketball? All right, now he’s in the Oval Office with a map. Now he’s outside and his hair looks messed up. That’s his Supreme Court nominee, whatsisname, and that woman who accused him. Some guy with a sign about transsexuals. Some guy in glasses who I don’t know. Trump saluting a soldier. Oh, that’s him and Putin shaking hands.”

What dread does this ad inspire in the person who gets their political news by the spoonful instead of by the firehose blast?

I don’t think it’s necessarily a misfire by Team Bloomy, though. The question is simply this: Who’s the intended audience? If this spot were destined to play on TV in Wisconsin it’d be a bizarre miscalculation, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s an online-only spot thrown together on the fly by one of Bloomberg’s army of staffers and injected into the Twitter bloodstream in hopes that a very specific person will see it. NBC takes a glimpse at Bloomberg’s strategy:

The gloves are off in the escalating competition between President Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg, with Trump taking shots at the former New York mayor’s physical stature and Bloomberg’s presidential campaign calling the president a “pathological liar.”…

Bloomberg’s campaign, responding to an interview in which Trump insulted the former mayor, suggested their strategy of getting under the president’s skin was bearing fruit.

Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg’s campaign manager, told NBC News that “it is fair to say” that their “theory of the case is playing out, and we are on wartime footing.”…

It’s a deliberate strategy to counter-program the Iowa caucuses on Monday, the formal starting gun for the primary contests and a critical test for most other Democratic candidates – except, perhaps, Bloomberg, who is skipping Iowa and the other early states.

Bloomberg’s at risk of becoming an afterthought this month as the press obsesses over the drama in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. He entered the race too late to make the ballot in those states so he’s focused on Super Tuesday, but Super Tuesday’s a long way away. How does he stay relevant? By baiting the hell out of Trump and hoping that the president, true to form, simply can’t let an insult slide. It was working like a charm even before the new troll ad was released:

He’s going to try to irritate Trump into giving him free publicity, on top of the mountains of paid publicity Bloomberg is getting from the endless millions he’s already spent on advertising. Defacing Trump’s own Super Bowl ad by recutting it as an attack on him is a cheap and easy way to try to get his attention. And it’s clever in the sense that watching Bloomberg get attacked by the left’s archenemy can only help soften up liberal opinion of Bloomy. If you’re a megarich financier and former Republican you need all the assistance you can get to convince Democratic primary voters to see you as an ally. Team Mike is going for a little “enemy of my enemy is my friend” mojo here.

And even if Trump doesn’t see the ad, there may be more political junkies online than any of us suspect. Pew reported this morning that fully 29 percent of Democrats use Twitter. That’s different from saying that 29 percent of Democrats follow politics so closely that they’ll understand the references in the ad, but the ad may reach them nonetheless. It can only help him.