BOSTON (CBS) — “I’m a manager, I knew what to do after 9-11,” said Michael Bloomberg during last night’s bar brawl masquerading as a Democratic presidential debate. His deer-in-the-headlights performance suggests Bloomberg either didn’t know what to do to get ready for a night of attacks everyone knew was coming, or ignored the advice of those who told him what to do.

Either way, it was a potentially devastating blunder by a candidate who has poured unprecedented sums into branding himself the candidate who can “get it done.” And while he has the time and money to recover, all he got done last night was hanging the economic policies of frontrunner Bernie Sanders with a toxic brand.

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When asked to comment on Sanders’s proposal to reserve 20% ownership of large companies for employees, Bloomberg said “Other countries tried that. It was called communism, and it just didn’t work.”

I wonder if that line will end up in a Trump campaign ad should Sanders win the nomination?

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Actually, it might not make the cut of the mountain of damaging material Democrats have handed to the Republicans during their ill-advised nine-month orgy of debates. From the unanimous show of hands in the first debate last June supporting full health coverage for illegal immigrants to last night’s Rambo-style bloodletting, the atrocious decision to regularly shift the spotlight away from one of the least popular incumbents ever and onto the not-ready-for-prime-time players has to rank as one of the worst political blunders of modern times.

Another notable casualty of the debates — last night’s Bonnie Parker impersonation winner Elizabeth Warren, who trashed her re-branding as the “unity” candidate the night of the New Hampshire primary with a strafing of every opponent in sight.

Except Bernie, of course, who is Warren’s chief obstacle to the nomination, but who she perpetually refuses to lay a glove on, thus undercutting her brand as the persistent fighter who won’t shrink before any foe. Add in the “she-has-a-plan-for-that” candidate’s inexplicable failure to have a timely, defensible healthcare plan ready and you have a campaign that specializes in sawing off its own legs.

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Today, Bloomberg finally got something right: he told an audience “the real winner in the debate last night was Donald Trump.”

Jon Keller