Maybe the most exciting story of the last few years is the increasingly prominent voice of a traditionally powerless and voiceless group: the super-rich. No longer content to stand by the wayside as the president begs them to contribute a slightly higher percentage of their massive incomes while they enjoy record-breaking profits, the super-rich have finally stood up to the middle-class and, with the typically astute metaphorical skill of the Wall Street billionaire, compared themselves to violently oppressed and abused people. And piñatas.
Chrystia Freeland's excellent New Yorker article about hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman and his crusade against the president covers the many insults and slights that the .01 percent have been forced to suffer under the oppressive, haughty regime of President Obama. Listen to this chilling anecdote:
Last July, before he had written the letter, Cooperman was invited to the White House for a reception to honor wealthy philanthropists who had signed Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least fifty per cent of their net worth to charity. At the event, Cooperman handed the President two copies of "Inspired: My Life (So Far) in Poems," a self-published book written by Courtney Cooperman, his fourteen-year-old granddaughter. Cooperman was surprised that the President didn't send him a thank-you note or that Malia and Sasha Obama, for whom the books were intended as a gift and to whom Courtney wrote a separate letter, didn't write to Courtney. (After Cooperman grumbled to a few friends, including Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, Michelle Obama did write. Booker, who was also a recipient of Courtney's book, promptly wrote her "a very nice note," Cooperman said.)
No wonder Cooperman has seen fit to compare the president to Hitler! But he's not the only super-rich guy to have deployed poetic comparisons to help paint a picture of the kind of abuse and persecution he faces. Here, a partial list of things to which rich people have compared themselves over the last four years:
Which makes Obama: A kid at a birthday party, I guess
Comparison made by: Hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci
Context: At a CNBC financial-industry "town hall," Scaramucci was given the chance to speak. "We have felt like a piñata," he said. "I certainly feel like we've been whacked. When are we going to stop whacking at the Wall Street piñata?"
This comparison would be accurate if: the piñata refused to acknowledge its own culpability in capsizing the global economy.
Which makes Obama: Hitler
Comparison made by: Blackstone CEO Steven Schwarzman
Context: "It's a war," Schwarzman told members of a non-profit board while discussing taxes on private-equity firms. "It's like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939."
This comparison would be accurate if: Hitler had invaded Poland by rescuing it from complete financial collapse and then asking it to pay slightly higher taxes.
Which makes Obama: An abusive husband
Comparison made by: Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb
Context: "He really loves us and when he beats us, he doesn't mean it; he just gets a little angry," Loeb wrote, describing finance-industry professionals who support the president, in an email to "Wall Street financiers."
This comparison would be accurate if: the battered wives were experiencing record-high profits.
Unspecific But Likely To Be Persecuted Germans in 1933
Which makes Obama: Hitler
Comparison made by: Hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman
Context: "You know, the largest and greatest country in the free world put a forty-seven-year-old guy that never worked a day in his life and made him in charge of the free world," Cooperman told Freeland. "Not totally different from taking Adolf Hitler in Germany and making him in charge of Germany because people were economically dissatisfied. Now, Obama's not Hitler. I don't even mean to say anything like that. But it is a question that the dissatisfaction of the populace was so great that they were willing to take a chance on an untested individual."
This comparison would be accurate if: there is basically no way to make this comparison even remotely accurate, to be honest.
Image by Jim Cooke.