The news of this week made mention of Al Gore as our soon-to-be, first carbon billionaire. Accounts included both his earlier and contemporary angry denials that he was greedy, or had used his vast network of government contacts to influence public loans, contracts, and regulations, in parlaying a 2001 net worth of $2 million apparently into a green empire of several hundred million.
In Gore’s telling, he was worried only about the planet, put meager investments into promising green companies, and then, given divine intervention, found himself worth perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars.
Still, I’m not so interested in how Gore made his fortune, or even the ethics involved of barnstorming the planet in a first wave of scare tactics, then following up with a second wave of financial reaping from what his fear mongering had sown—but rather instead the divide between the world he advocates and the life he lives. After all, with cap-and-trade, our energy is going to go a tad higher—the rich oblivious to the cost, the poor to be recipients of government subsidized help.
To distill Gorism is to live in a 1,000 sq. ft. solar house, bike to work, and take the train on long distances; but to promote Gorism, one lives in a mansion, jets on private planes, and is chauffeured from airport to conference center—a rather heavy carbon footprint indeed. I mention that because this week he has insisted that he only invested in what he believes in and is thus not a hypocrite—sort of like a 1990s Fannie or Freddie director saying he is only taking mega-bonuses because he believes in public support for housing.
A Charming disconnect
What has the liberal leadership become? It garners more Wall Street money than the Republicans. The high-income brackets favored Obama. The shriller the populist or nihilist—think everyone from Arianna Huffington to Michael Moore to Noam Chomsky to Gore Vidal—the nicer the home. Think of the vast diversity of such celebrity hypocrisy: John Edward’s “two nations” is defined by his own vast estate—and those outside it. Michael Moore profits in the millions from, of course, damning profit-driven capitalism.
A Sean Penn or Oliver Stone praises the egalitarianism of Latin American thugs whose socialist utopias would jail both in short order if they ever moved in pursuance of their egalitarian rhetoric. The Obama populist team hires Wall Street insiders to bail out friends, whose firms they will shortly join when out of office.
Rev. Wright is back in the news. In Animal Farm, pigs-on-two-legs fashion he is sermonizing on the joys of socialism as he is ensconced in a three-story, 10,000 sq. ft. mansion, paid for by his relatively modest flock in thanks to his virulent race-baiting (the real story of his Fox-news-aired clips was not his racism or anti-Americanism, but the standing ovations he received from his congregation for his unadulterated hate.). A Nancy Pelosi shouts slogans from the barricades, while her husband subsidizes her aristocratic liberalism through a network of arcane deal-making. Chris Dodd worries about the roguery of credit card companies while he finagles an Irish getaway “cottage” through influence peddling. The list could go on.
More than hypocrisy
But everyone is a hypocrite, you object? Again, the mystery is not liberal hypocrisy—as I have written, after all, pompadour-haired, leisure-suited evangelical preachers are regularly caught in flagrante delicto or up-from-the-bootstraps corporate farmers garner vast federal ag. subsidies—but rather the apparent unconcern that revolutionary populism and the desire for great wealth and the elitism it bestows don’t mix.
What are we to make of the George Soroses and Warren Buffetts and the club of the mega wealthy preferring the populist rhetoric of Barack Obama? Why did a “redistributive change”, “spread the wealth” Barack Obama move into a million-dollar mansion, or a “truth to power” Valerie Jarrett make out like a bandit from questionable insider Chicago real estate deals, or Rahm Emanuel cash grab as a director of a scandal-plagued Freddie Mac, or raise-our-taxes Timothy Geithner in the most tawdry fashion avoid taxes? In short, why the liberal fascination with money and privilege—and populism?