Politics & Policy

Gilded Class Warriors

Liberal grandees attack the rich while enjoying their lifestyle.

In his first term, President Obama was criticized for trash-talking the 1-percenters while enjoying the aristocracy of Martha’s Vineyard and the nation’s most exclusive golf courses.

Obama never quite squared his accusations that “millionaires and billionaires” had not paid their fair share with his own obvious enjoyment of the perks of “corporate jet owners,” “fat cat bankers,” and Las Vegas junketeers.

#ad#Now, that paradox has continued right off the bat in the second term. In the State of the Union, Obama once more went after “the few” and “the wealthiest and the most powerful,” whom he blasted as the “well-off and the well-connected” and the “billionaires with high-powered accountants.”

Like clockwork, the president then jetted to West Palm Beach for yet another golfing vacation at one of the nation’s priciest courses, replete with lessons from a $1,000-an-hour golf pro to improve the presidential putting.

The rest of the first family jetted off on their own skiing vacation to elite Aspen, Colo., where nobody accepts that at some point they’ve already “made enough money.” Meanwhile, below the stratosphere, unemployment rose to 7.9 percent for January — the 49th consecutive month it has been 7.8 percent or higher. The economy shrank in the last quarter of 2012, gas is back to almost $4 a gallon, and the government continues to borrow almost $4 billion a day.

Today, lots of liberal grandees attack the rich and yet do their best to act and live just like them.

Take financial speculator and leftist billionaire George Soros, who is back in the news. Soros is able to fund several progressive think tanks that go after the 1 percent because he is the most successful financial buccaneer of the age — notorious as “the man who broke the Bank of England” and who was convicted of insider trading in France. The Soros family investment firm’s most recent speculating coup was betting against the Japanese yen. That made Soros $1.2 billion in just three months — enough capitalist lucre to keep funding Media Matters and other attack-dog progressive groups for years to come.

Facebook co-founder and Obama campaign organizer Chris Hughes just bought The New Republic and has rebranded the magazine as an unapologetic progressive megaphone.

How odd that hip Facebook just confessed that it paid no federal or California State income taxes for 2012 on its $1.1 billion in pre-tax profits from its U.S. operations alone. Odder still, Facebook will probably receive a federal-tax refund of about $429 million. Apparently Facebook’s “well connected” found some “high-powered accountants” to write off their stock options as a business expense.

Perhaps treasury-secretary-designate Jack Lew should have a look at Facebook’s tax contortions. He should be familiar with the big-money paper trail, given that Lew himself took a nearly $1 million bonus from Citigroup after it had received billions of dollars in federal funds to cover its gargantuan losses.

Lew, like his tax-dodging predecessor, Timothy Geithner, has a propensity for doing just the opposite of what the president used to preach against. Obama, remember, warned Wall Streeters not to take bonuses after their failing companies received federal money.

Obama also derided dubious Cayman Islands tax shelters. Yet he apparently forgot to tell that to Lew, who invested in a fund registered to the same Potemkin Cayman Islands building that Obama had used as a campaign prop to bash the 1-percenters.

One of the nation’s best-known class warriors is former U.S. representative Jesse Jackson Jr. of Chicago, who for years has damned the wealthy for their ill-gotten gains. He is expected to plead guilty to fraud charges after he and his wife allegedly siphoned off $750,000 from their campaign accounts to pay for an assortment of 1-percenter extravagances such as a $43,000 Rolex watch.

Today’s leftists like the high life as much as their demonized conservative rivals do. The more they damn the bad “millionaires and billionaires,” apparently the less guilt they feel about living it up in Palm Beach or Aspen — paying no taxes, offshoring their profits, or wearing Rolex watches.

The vast growth of the federal government has splashed so much big money around New York and Washington that even muckraking progressives can’t resist. Loud redistributionist rhetoric offers the necessary vaccination shot that makes privileged leftists immune from any criticism — or guilt — over indulging in tax avoidance, billion-dollar speculation, or aristocratic tastes.

George Orwell long ago noticed the same thing: In Animal Farm the pig elite loudly damned reactionary humans even as they sought to copy them by walking on two legs.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals will appear in the spring from Bloomsbury Books. © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

Most Popular

Elections

Bernie Is Not Normal

The most substantively outrageous presidential campaign in American history has some serious chance of success. Bernie Sanders is leading or near the top of most polls in the first two Democratic nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire. He could plausibly win both, which would instantly transform the race ... Read More
Elections

Bernie Is Not Normal

The most substantively outrageous presidential campaign in American history has some serious chance of success. Bernie Sanders is leading or near the top of most polls in the first two Democratic nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire. He could plausibly win both, which would instantly transform the race ... Read More
PC Culture

Women Lie Too

Elizabeth Warren says Bernie Sanders once told her that a woman couldn't win the presidency. Bernie Sanders says Elizabeth Warren is lying about the encounter. I have no idea whom to believe. Some notable people on Twitter have wondered if maybe, considering all that happened during the #MeToo movement, ... Read More
PC Culture

Women Lie Too

Elizabeth Warren says Bernie Sanders once told her that a woman couldn't win the presidency. Bernie Sanders says Elizabeth Warren is lying about the encounter. I have no idea whom to believe. Some notable people on Twitter have wondered if maybe, considering all that happened during the #MeToo movement, ... Read More
Media

Our Stupid Times, Etc.

I don’t think most people who read the news are too stupid to understand the news. I think they are too dishonest. I am frankly embarrassed that we’ve found it necessary to append a note to Zachary Evans’s report on anti-Semitism to emphasize that quoting a person to illuminate his sentiments does not ... Read More
Media

Our Stupid Times, Etc.

I don’t think most people who read the news are too stupid to understand the news. I think they are too dishonest. I am frankly embarrassed that we’ve found it necessary to append a note to Zachary Evans’s report on anti-Semitism to emphasize that quoting a person to illuminate his sentiments does not ... Read More
Elections

The Democrats Have Had This Primary Before

As of this writing, the Democratic presidential contest looks very fluid, with four candidates bunched up in Iowa and New Hampshire. But the sudden relevance of foreign policy, thanks to the confrontation with Iran, has made it look more and more like a two-person race between Joe Biden and Bernie ... Read More
Elections

The Democrats Have Had This Primary Before

As of this writing, the Democratic presidential contest looks very fluid, with four candidates bunched up in Iowa and New Hampshire. But the sudden relevance of foreign policy, thanks to the confrontation with Iran, has made it look more and more like a two-person race between Joe Biden and Bernie ... Read More