I don’t know. At this point, you’d think that anybody with a net worth of more than a billion dollars would have realized that it’s probably in their best interest to keep quiet about Elizabeth Warren, lest she posterize them on the internet. Alas, no. The candidate released a new ad this week titled “Elizabeth Warren Stands Up to Billionaires.” It touts her wealth tax and features a number of rich men fretting on television about her plans for the country, with fun little chyrons about their past exploits. Leon Cooperman, the hedge funder who literally cried about Warren’s rise on CNBC, makes an appearance. Viewers learn that he was charged with insider trading. Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein also gets a few seconds of airtime, with a note that he earned $70 million during the financial crash.
This ad appears to have effectively baited its targets. Cooperman, for instance, responded on CNBC with a profane rant.
“In my opinion she represents the worst in politicians as she’s trying to demonize wealthy people because there are more poor people then wealthy people,” Cooperman told CNBC. “As far as the accusations of insider trading, I won the case. She’s disgraceful. She doesn’t know who the f–k she’s tweeting. I gave away more in the year than she has in her whole f–king lifetime.”
If I’m understanding correctly, Cooperman is explaining that he both a) gives away more money than most people make in a lifetime, and b) successfully beat charges from the SEC. (He settled without admitting fault.) It’s unclear how this really undercuts Warren’s broader campaign theme that the wealthy are too powerful and should pay more taxes.
But say what you will about Cooperman’s comms strategy, his angry outburst was a relative class act compared to Blankfein, who decided this was the time for a Pocahontas joke.
Get it? Tribalism. As in, Native Americans. As in, that whole controversy.
Anyway, it appears that Warren might be the first Democrat to have learned the art of commanding the news cycle by trolling her enemies. This is a legitimately important political skill when you might be running against Donald Trump in the general election. The Republican base legitimately loves Trump’s ability to own the libs. And Warren’s fans love her ability to own the rich. Which is why she’s now selling a mug that says “billionaire tears.”
Meanwhile, if you’d like some further insight into why billionaires are literally weeping over Warren’s agenda, you can read this exploration of her wealth tax that I wrote Wednesday, and how it compares with Bernie Sanders’ plan. The tears may be self-defeating, but they’re not entirely unwarranted.