Not all billionaires are bad dudes

By Tim Henney
Reader Contributor

A longtime friend, a California Republican—as I was back when the Grand Old Party was an organization of pride rather than  impropriety and prejudice—was bitching recently to me about the bombastic buffoonery of his party’s presidential candidate.

He yearns, as I do, for the years when Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller of New York, Michigan’s George W. Romney, Everett Dirkson of Illinois, and Mark Hatfield and Tom McCall of Oregon held office. When Republicans like Earl Warren of California, Fiorello La Guardia of New York City, Ike, Maine’s Olympia Snow, Iowa’s Jim Leach, Utah’s Jon Huntsman Jr., and former Secretary of State Colin Powell were the Grand Old Party’s headliners.

The hate-mongering philistine who represents it today has so incensed my west coast buddy that he doesn’t even like rich people anymore. And he and his spouse are far from impoverished. They were when I was best man at their Berkeley nuptials in 1956. But hey, who wasn’t? Gas for a British ragtop roadster was the only necessity.

“What is it with all these super rich guys that makes them so self-serving and disgusting?” my pal griped to me recently. A late ‘50s graduate of Cal-Davis and a retired veterinarian, he and his lunch bunch of well-heeled active and retired M.D.s find themselves in an unaccustomed quandry. Solid citizens and educated lifelong GOP voters, they are today embarrassed by their political  affiliation. And my friend—I can’t speak for his buddies—finds himself curiously angry at all financial heavy hitters. A supporter of success as our culture defines it his entire adult life, he has become  demoralized by the recent Republican presidential campaign. The Donald’s threat-filled, repulsive ravings have shoved my once logical Republican pal over the edge. Suddenly, because of this goofball, anyone with really big bucks is a bad dude.

But think again, old friend. There are 526 American billionaires, including 21 women, according to my scholarly, in-depth research (Google). It is my suspicion, after many years of NYC-based corporate laboring and observing, that most of the 526 are considerably less bilious than Trump. And most could afford to buy and sell Trump and all his glossy buildings without even breaking stride. Moreover, it appears most give considerably more to charities than Trump does.

No one really knows The Donald’s financial worth. It’s a secret. But Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, number 393 on Forbes’ list of richest Americans with a mere $4.2 billion, is richer than Trump, says Forbes. Bill Gates with $79 billion, Warren Buffett with more than $66 billion, Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Larry Ellison (Oracle) with over $63 billion each, and youngster Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) with $51.2 billion, make Trump look like what he calls his opponents: losers. So do New York’s Michael Bloomberg with $41.6 billion, Sergey Brin (Google) with $37 billion, and hedge fund giant George Soros with a piddling $24.5 billion. Someone should send George food stamps.

None of the above, so far as I know, have announced plans to deport all Muslims, build a wall on the Mexican border or slandered an American judge because of a Mexican parent. None have praised war, blamed the Orlando massacre on President Obama personally, lauded the nasty, fearsome NRA as a really swell organization, or boasted about their penises on TV. And all are major philanthropists. In the area of charitable giving, even if inspired by businesslike tax write-offs, they make Trump look like a sycophantic tightwad.

The GOP’s nominee says women love him. National polls say otherwise. We’ll see in November. Meanwhile, billionaire Oprah Winfrey, an enthusiastic Obama fan, has endorsed Hillary. Millions and millions of American women admire and listen to Oprah and fellow female philanthropists Melinda Gates, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, George Clooney’s wife Amal, and Ellen Degeneres. Among others. It’s a safe bet that none of them are so impressed by Trump’s big mouth, tiny hands, or allegedly massive ancillary parts that they’ll vote for him.

Ellen, of course, is proudly gay. My guess is that Trump doesn’t want her vote anyway. As President he’d probably deport her.

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