10.11.12 8:45 AM ET
Jack Welch, Rupert Murdoch & More Angry Old Rich Guys Who Hate Obama
They’re everywhere! In the past few weeks, it’s been hard not to notice a new species: Maleus Americanus Crustius. Sure, they’ve always been with us. But these days, the alpha-male specimens, white dudes mostly in their late 60s and 70s, have been stalking the airwaves, print, and social media. They’re full of rage and fury about politics, tax policy, and the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They share certain characteristics: north-south migration patterns, brittle egos, receding hairlines, and long records in business. While they respond well to obsequiousness and stroking, they exhibit a tendency to snarl when put on the defensive. And they don’t need medication to get blood moving to their extremities. The mere mention of President Obama does the trick.
Our Field Guide to Angry Old Obama-Hating Rich Men.
Name: Jack Welch
Pedigree: Titan of industry, 20-year CEO of General Electric, turned speaker, management guru and columnist with wife Suzy. Active on Twitter.
Natural habitat: Boston, Nantucket, Palm Beach.
Recent noteworthy activities: Starting with a series of tweets last Thursday, Welch has been all over the media—on CNBC, on MSNBC, on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page—accusing the White House and the Obama campaign of manipulating the September jobs report. He’s also generally been running down the conduct of the U.S. economy under the Obama administration. Reacted to harsh pushback from reality-based community by comparing U.S. to Soviet-style authoritarian regime in which any and all dissenting views are crushed.
Ostensible reason for anti-Obama rage: Is convinced the Obama administration is cooking the books on labor market, and is anti-business.
Real reasons for generalized anger: Legacy as a highly praised CEO who raised revenues from $26 billion in 1980 to nearly $130 billion in 2000 but has been attacked recently as just the wins of a bull market economy. Meanwhile, his hand-picked successor, Jeff Immelt, who accepted an Obama appointment to a jobs council, has racked up much less impressive record—but is much better-liked.
Name: Leon Cooperman
Pedigree: Founder and CEO of Omega Advisors, wildly successful hedge fund
Natural habitat: Lower Manhattan
Recent noteworthy activities: Cooperman featured prominently in Chrystia Freeland’s recent article in The New Yorker about angry rich guys. He distributed a letter to colleagues complaining about Obama’s divisive rhetoric and class warfare, and obliquely compared Obama’s political rise to that of Hitler.
Ostensible reason for anti-Obama rage: Obama occasionally refers to the wealthy as fat cats, says people who fly in private jets should pay higher taxes, blames banker and Wall Street for woes of economy.
Real reason for generalized anger: Neither Obama—nor his kids—sent Cooperman a thank-you note after he presented the president with a volume of self-published poems written by Cooperman’s teenaged granddaughter.
Name: Sam Zell
Pedigree: Legendary real estate investor, known for jumping into distressed situations. Ill-fated, highly leveraged acquisition of Tribune Company wound up in bankruptcy.
Natural habitat: Chicago, distressed-investing conferences.
Recent noteworthy activities: In an appearance on CNBC on October 2, Zell tore into Obama, suggesting that it didn’t make sense for people like him to invest at a time when business is under attack.
Ostensible reason for anti-Obama rage: Obama wages class warfare by arguing that those with higher incomes should pay higher taxes than they pay now.
Real reason for generalized anger: Even after a successful career as contrarian investor, Zell is mostly known to the public for his disastrous, money-losing purchase of the Tribune Company in 2007.
Name: David Siegel
Pedigree: Founder of Westgate, a large time-share business. Builder of 90,000-square-foot home in Florida, featured in documentary, The Queen of Versailles.
Natural habitat: Orlando
Recent noteworthy activities: Recently circulated an email to employees in which he said he would fire employees if President Obama were to be reelected.
Ostensible reason for anti-Obama rage: Obama’s plans to raise taxes on rich and health care costs will make it impossible for businessmen like him to make money. Also, president has apparently failed to stimulate sufficient demand for the low-end vacation time shares he sells.
Real reason for generalized anger: He came off badly in documentary about his unfinished 90,000-square-foot house.
Name: Steve Wynn
Pedigree: Charismatic founder of Wynn Resorts, helped reinvent Las Vegas.
Natural habitat: Las Vegas, Macau
Recent sightings: In an interview with journalist Jon Ralston earlier this week, Wynn raged about the president’s practice of class warfare. “I can’t stand the idea of being demagogued, that is put down by a president who has never created any jobs and who doesn’t even understand how the economy works.”
Ostensible reason for anti-Obama rage: Obama has called for higher taxes on the wealthy, and has made off-handed comments that are harmful to casinos’ effort to pry dollars from consumers. For example, he warned companies that accepted bailout funds: “You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime.” He also told Americans: “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”
Real reason for generalized anger: Enraged that Andy Garcia got to play the role of the casino owner in the Ocean’s 11 franchise.
Name: Rupert Murdoch
Pedigree: Founder of Fox News, owner of Wall Street Journal, media mogul
Natural habitat: London, Australia, Manhattan
Recent activities: Took to Twitter to suggest every American go see 2016: Obama’s America, Dinesh D’Souza’s absurd anti-Obama documentary.
Ostensible reason for anti-Obama rage: Hates liberals, lives to crush them, draws life-sustaining energy from the tears of progressives around the world.
Real reason for generalized anger: Hates liberals, lives to crush them, draws life-sustaining energy from the tears of progressives around the world.