Sunday, August 7, 2016
The Billionaires Club
Normally, lining up a whole bunch of billionaires to support you would be a bad call, but in this election year it seems anything goes. Hillary has gotten the support of billionaires ranging from Michael Bloomberg to Meg Whitman. When you add the net wealth of these two along with Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban, George Soros and others it is well over $150 billion, dwarfing the $10 billion Trump claims to have.
However, Trump being Trump, belittles all these heavy hitters, calling Bloomberg "Little Michael," and retracting all the nice things he once had to say of Warren Buffett. He even palled around with George Soros at one time, but not anymore. His campaign advisers are probably glad Soros threw his considerable resources behind Clinton, as George is generally seen as a "bad guy" in conservative circles.
You have to think Berniecrats are none too happy about this strategy of fighting a billionaire with billionaires. It is kind of like fighting fire with fire, everyone gets burned. But, the Hillary camp seems to think having all these billionaires line up behind her diminishes Trump stature, and elevates her economic creds.
To be fair, Warren Buffett has repeatedly said that billionaires have to pay a greater share of the tax burden and is a major advocate of alternative energy solutions. He has poured big money into wind energy and seems keen on breaking the oil cartel. But, still a billionaire is a billionaire even if he came from very humble origins, unlike the Republican nominee Donald Trump.
I suppose there is a good story in all this that Hillary can sell to Americans. No one represents the Horatio Alger myth better than Warren Buffett who began building his fortune as a teenager off pinball machines. Bloomberg also has a humble background and has given billions through his philanthropic foundations to a wide variety of concerns. These are billionaires with clear consciences, so we can't say all billionaires are bad. However, what drives Buffett and Bloomberg is of little interest to those who support Donald Trump, and the Donald knows this, which is why he feels he can belittle them even if these two are worth a hell of a lot more than he is.
It's similar to the way Putin has brought billionaires to heel in Russia, although it is argued that Putin may very well be the richest man in the world. Putin has been able to successfully present himself as a "proletarian," by maintaining a relatively frugal standard of living on the surface in contrast to the Russian oligarchs conspicuously blowing their money on sports teams, high end flats in New York and yachts in the Mediterranean.
Trump doesn't worry about the frugal part, but he does try to present himself as one of the folks with his trucker caps and coarse language. This is what separates him apart from the likes of "Little Michael," who holds himself above everyone else with his haughty airs. Trump would like persons to think of him as Cledus Snow, whose handle was "Snowman" on Smokey and the Bandit. It's the perfect theme song for his campaign, much better than "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Who knows how this election will play out, but it is safe to say that lining up billionaires in your support isn't going to stop Trump, anymore than Sheriff Buford T. Pusser was ever able to get Snowman and the Bandit.
Hillary has to start thinking outside the box as her 9-point lead isn't going to hold up once the Khan story plays out. They Olympic Games have already muted it. Her campaign has to find creative ways to battle Trump, puncturing holes into this myth he has created of himself as a "blue collar billionaire." What they need is the original "silver spoon," and force him to gag on it. Let's say, reviving that old show, This Is Your Life, but making it look like The Twilight Zone.