THE WISE BILLIONAIRE...

THE WISE BILLIONAIRE MYTH. James Fallows, liveblogging the Aspen Ideas Festival, talked to a pollster who's effusive about third party opportunities:

Who were the people who could win the presidency on a �let�s cut the shit� platform? He said there might be ten or so possibilities, but the no-brainers were Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. They could afford the $1 billion or so of their own money the campaign would cost, and everyone would understand that this actually represented a significant sacrifice on their part.

Obviously the sacrifice is so great that neither man would ever consider it. (Press conferences? Sitting through the negative ads? At least they wouldn�t have to hold fund-raisers.) But it�s a nice thought.

Why exactly is it a nice thought? Warren Buffett is a good investor, Bill Gates an able computer programmer and philanthropist. What makes anyone think these guys would positively rule at foreign diplomacy? Or show wise judgment about wars? Or ably adapt to an environment where their decisions are chopped apart by a dysfunctional Congress? Or be able to inspire Americans to higher achievements or national purposes? There is, to be sure, plenty of bullshit in the two parties, and all political writers would appreciate some megarich dude standing up and saying so. But that isn't the same as believing, just because they're wealthy, that these billionaires would bring any less bullshit, or any more wisdom, to the table than the guys who've spent their lives thinking about government rather than computer parts. And I say this with all the cynicism of a fed-up Californian who watched all the hype around Arnold Schwarzenegger's independence, self-funding, and street smarts evaporate as he entered office, get instantly coopted by all the usual suspects, and begin mucking things worsr than normal because he'd spent so little time thinking about government in the past.

--Ezra Klein

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