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Ear to the Ground

Pity Us, We’re Only Billionaires

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Posted on Oct 19, 2012
Picador Macmillan

Frank is the author of “Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right.”

It’s all Obama’s fault that the public appears at times to be waking up from a stupor generated by 30 years of class warfare, says the confused rich guy in a high-rise in the neighborhood you can’t afford to spit in.

In reality, it’s the seemingly interminable recessive “slump that has exposed the mighty to the horrors of criticism,” Harper’s Magazine columnist Tom Frank writes in the opinion section of The New York Times. The economy has turned the minds of some of the public against billionaires, many of whom blame President Obama for using the “rhetoric of class warfare.”

Hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman could be considered Exhibit A of this phenomenon. Cooperman last year wrote an open letter to the president castigating Obama and his “minions” for “setting the tenor of the rancorous debate now roiling us that smacks of what so many have characterized as ‘class warfare.’ ” A “divisive, polarizing tone” that places a canyon “between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them.”

Stereotypical self-besotted super-rich, this Cooperman. Do not describe the devastating, socially divisive consequences of our actions. Leave us alone and things will improve.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Thomas Frank at The New York Times:

For one thing, their criticisms reveal a contemptuous view of their fellow citizens. That all the books and articles on the financial crisis and the recession might have had an effect — that people might see the economic downturn as a reflection on the individuals who were, a few years back, lionized as the economy’s leaders — is inconceivable to the class-war complainers. The public’s attitude, they seem to believe, can have arisen only as a result of propagandizing by Mr. Obama. No American would ever stop respecting his betters unless he was brainwashed into it.

It is also a play for legitimacy. In good times, the very rich compare themselves to the Almighty; in hard times they convince themselves that Huey P. Long lurks just around the corner. History, they fear, will repeat its most sordid chapters unless it is stopped right now, and that’s why they act as if a few mean words wound as hurtfully as any program of, say, antitrust enforcement.

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