“The divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf”

A hard hitting letter to the President of the United States from former Goldman Sachs asset management chief and current CEO of Omega Advisors Leon Cooperman:

LeonCoopermanOPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

November 28, 2011

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

It is with a great sense of disappointment that I write this. Like many others, I hoped that your election would bring a salutary change of direction to the country, despite what more than a few feared was an overly aggressive social agenda. And I cannot credibly blame you for the economic mess that you inherited, even if the policy response on your watch has been profligate and largely ineffectual. (You did not, after all, invent TARP.) I understand that when surrounded by cries of “the end of the world as we know it is nigh”, even the strongest of minds may have a tendency to shoot first and aim later in a well-intended effort to stave off the predicted apocalypse.

But what I can justifiably hold you accountable for is you and your minions’ role in setting the tenor of the rancorous debate now roiling us that smacks of what so many have characterized as “class warfare”. Whether this reflects your principled belief that the eternal divide between the haves and have-nots is at the root of all the evils that afflict our society or just a cynical, populist appeal to his base by a president struggling in the polls is of little importance. What does matter is that the divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them. It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents. And it is an approach to governing that owes more to desperate demagoguery than your Administration should feel comfortable with.

Even though, as a high-income taxpayer, I might be considered one of its targets, I find this reassessment of so many entrenched economic premises healthy and long overdue. Anyone who could survey today’s challenging fiscal landscape, with an un- and underemployment rate of nearly 20 percent and roughly 40 percent of the country on public assistance, and not acknowledge an imperative for change is either heartless, brainless, or running for office on a very parochial agenda. And if I end up paying more taxes as a result, so be it. The alternatives are all worse.

But what I do find objectionable is the highly politicized idiom in which this debate is being conducted. Now, I am not naive. I understand that in today’s America, this is how the business of governing typically gets done – a situation that, given the gravity of our problems, is as deplorable as it is seemingly ineluctable. But as President first and foremost and leader of your party second, you should endeavor to rise above the partisan fray and raise the level of discourse to one that is both more civil and more conciliatory, that seeks collaboration over confrontation. That is what “leading by example” means to most people.

Capitalism is not the source of our problems, as an economy or as a society, and capitalists are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be. As a group, we employ many millions of taxpaying people, pay their salaries, provide them with healthcare coverage, start new companies, found new industries, create new products, fill store shelves at Christmas, and keep the wheels of commerce and progress (and indeed of government, by generating the income whose taxation funds it) moving. To frame the debate as one of rich-and-entitled versus poor-and-dispossessed is to both miss the point and further inflame an already incendiary environment. It is also a naked, political pander to some of the basest human emotions – a strategy, as history teaches, that never ends well for anyone but totalitarians and anarchists.

With due respect, Mr. President, it’s time for you to throttle-down the partisan rhetoric and appeal to people’s better instincts, not their worst. Rather than assume that the wealthy are a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot who must be subjugated by the force of the state, set a tone that encourages people of good will to meet in the middle. When you were a community organizer in Chicago, you learned the art of waging a guerilla campaign against a far superior force. But you’ve graduated from that milieu and now help to set the agenda for that superior force. You might do well at this point to eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy and become the transcendent leader you were elected to be. You are likely to be far more effective, and history is likely to treat you far more kindly for it.

Sincerely,

Leon G. Cooperman Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Omega Advisors

Powerful stuff.

You think Obama will respond?

H/T Tina Korbe at Hot Air.

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  • retired.military

    ” Like many others, I hoped that your election would bring a salutary change of direction to the country’

    That was his first mistake.

    “With due respect, Mr. President, it’s time for you to throttle-down the partisan rhetoric and appeal to people’s better instincts, not their worst.”

    BAHAHAHHAHHAHHHAH

    Obama has NOTHING else to run on. Zilch, nada, nothing. If he wasnt African American he would lose their vote by at least another 10% IMO.

    “But as President first and foremost and leader of your party second, you should endeavor to rise above the partisan fray and raise the level of discourse to one that is both more civil and more conciliatory, ”

    I guess he didnt hear about ” I WON”

    oh and

    “”But as President first and foremost and leader of your party second”

    Here let me fix that for you
    “As a golf player first and basketball player second with being POTUS last on your list of things to do today”

    “You are likely to be far more effective, and history is likely to treat you far more kindly for it.”

    Here let me fix this too.

    “You are likely to be far more effective, and history is likely to treat you far more kindly for it IF YOU RESIGN IMMEDIATELY”

    “That is what “leading by example” means to most people.”

    And what exactly did Obama lead before he got to be POTUS? A rummage sale committee to help out planned parenthood?

    • jim_m

      Yep.  Another rube self-identifies.

  • “And I cannot credibly blame you for the economic mess that you inherited…”

    Can’t even criticize Obama without setting the table with “it’s Bush’s fault.”

  • herddog505

    Uh-oh!  Barry’s got the corporate fatcats running scared, so the fatcats are attacking back with a vicious smear campaign against him!  Why, NOBODY’S done more for American business than Barry!  Just ask him.  He’ll tell you.  In fact, I’m sure that CNN will ask Jay Carney that very question and get that very answer.  Film at 11.

  • retired.military

    In the spirit of bipartisianship I am going to criticize the man who wrote the letter just like a liberal would.

    RACIST.

  • Poor attempt.  You cannot convince a man to see the error of his ways by starting with disingenuous compliments.  The wording should have take a much harder line and he could have given examples of the President’s inflammatory rhetoric.  I bet they are still laughing at The White House, unless they have already started his audit.

  • Waste not your breath upon a fool, for he will not hear the wisdom of your words.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Leon!  Standby for an IRS audit.

    You were chosen “at random” by a computer.

  • Anonymous

    This guy’s a hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs alum.  Precisely the group that croaked the economy with their casino gambling.   Obama isn’t kissing their asses enough?  I wonder what Obama said that set him off – there are no Obama quotes in the letter.  Maybe something like “we all must sacrifice.”

    Quite the privileged, entitled sot, isn’t he?   

    The USA’s been fighting two or three wars, he’s bitching about taxes.  I wonder if any of his family are in the military.  NOT.

    • retired.military

      “This guy’s a hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs alum. Precisely the group that croaked the economy with their casino gambling”

      That describes most of Obama’s cabinet or Csars. 

      ” Obama isn’t kissing their asses enough?”

      Yet you will still be voting for Obama in 2012.

      “The USA’s been fighting two or three wars, he’s bitching about taxes. I wonder if any of his family are in the military. NOT”

      Obama is always bitching about taxes and he has no family in the military either.  Yet you will vote for him in 2012.

    • One of the classic logical fallacies:  the Ad Hominem attack, ignoring the argument altogether and instead maligning the author, implying that because the person making the argument is bad, the argument must be false. 

      But of course you knew that, Chico – it’s one of your old stand-by rebuttals, isn’t it?

      • Anonymous

        You mean I was making an ad hominem like this?

        Waste not your breath upon a fool, for he will not hear the wisdom of your words. 

        • retired.military

          gee Chico people walk away from you quoting that phrase all the time.

    • Chico, do you have anything in your arsenal besides “ad hominem”? You didn’t refute any of the message. You just attacked the messenger.

      • Anonymous

        Hard to refute the message when Cooperman did not include one quote he was objecting to – so his argument is more ad hominem than mine.

        • Anonymous

          Who needs a quote? It’s pretty much everything Obama has been saying while campaigning.

        • retired.military

          Who needs a quote when the proof is the 10 Ton elephant in center ring.

    • Besides. He said he was willing to pay more taxes. . even if he is 100% wrong about that, which he is, he didn’t do what you said he did.

      Your attempt to defend Obama here was a bit fat fail.

      • Anonymous

        Well, then, what’s he complaining about?

        • Anonymous

          He’s complaining that Obama is setting Americans against one another ….. is it really that difficult to follow?

          • Anonymous

            Could anyone give me one quote that is so objectionable?

          • retired.military

            Waste not your breath upon a fool, for he will not hear the wisdom of your words.    

            How about the pitchfork quote there Chico? How about the Big banks quotes (there a dozens of them)?
            How about the antibig oil business quotes (there are hundreds of them).
            How about the antirepublican quotes (there are thousands of them).
            How about the antiAmerican quotes (there are umm damn, lost count at a million).

          • Clay

            Just spent about 3 minutes on Google for these. ‘Nuff said.

            “If they bring a knife to the fight,
            we bring a gun. Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a
            good brawl”

            “I need you to go out and talk to
            your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them
            whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want
            you to argue with them and get in their face.”

            “…just
            because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or
            local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right…”

            “The
            point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial
            animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person…”

            “And it’s not surprising then that
            they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to
            people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade
            sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

          • Anonymous

            Campaign rhetoric, and not that remarkable.  Cooperman voted for Obama after he said those things.

            Anything since he’s become president?

          • Anonymous

            Is there nothing you won’t excuse from your side? Now it’s just stuff he said durning the campaign give me something since he’s been president. How about my daughters will be fine even if the country isn’t. What about call people opposed to illegal immigration the enemy, there are 2 easy ones with out even going to google. Why don’t you just say you don’t care that he’s being divisive and let it go at that.

  • Anonymous

    “even the strongest of minds may have a tendency to shoot first and aim later in a well-intended effort to stave off the predicted apocalypse.”

    Trranslation: Billie shot his load and hid the trophy dress, cause Hillary was hiding the ROSE LAW FIRM RECORDS from Him! 

    • retired.military

      Now you know that the Rose law firm records was in a room in the WH escaping detection for 2 years. One day Hillary was clearning came into the room and said “hmm what are these?… Well imagine that”

  • Anonymous

    Chico, wants examples the author objects to?, Duh – 

    What part of ‘highly politicized’ ‘partisan rhetoric’ used on those ‘who must be subjugated by the force of the state’  do you not understand? 

    Your idealism is hopelessly bent to port Chico.  One fights with whatchagot.  If one waits till only the pure and righteous join the cause… your doomed.  Mr. Cooperman’s vote counts same as yours (and mine)… its one vote, one at a time; and that’s how you and your hero are going to go down in defeat come next November. 

    Semper Fidelis-.

  • Seems to me that Mr Cooperman is expressing what the rest of the country has been saying for the last three years. Only we were called every vile name that Chico and his leftist friends could think of. And some that are supposed to be in our camp too.

    It is not only Barry and the people in his Administration that have been divisive, it is also the Democrats in the Congress that followed in the same tone. Prime examples are Dingy Harry, Princess Pelosi, Barney Frank (who is fortunately leaving) Chucky Cheese Schumer and the whole Congressional Black Caucus.  

    • Anonymous

      Exactly right, Stan.
      It isn’t just Obama, but all of the major democrat officials that bring down the discourse.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously Cooperman only watches Fox News and has never read a thing on blogs such as this or read anything the Republican leaders of the House and Senate has said or written.

    Really, he should pick up his skirt and go home.

    • Anonymous

      His complaint is that Obama is EVERYONE’s president not just his side not just Democrats not just the left. Besides that Obama is the guy that called himself post partisian.

  • Anonymous

    Pots calling kettles black.

    What Cooperman apparently wants is for Obama to stand there and let Republicans call him a “socialist,” a weak commander-in-chief, and simultaneously a sinister mastermind and a hapless fool, without responding. Sorry, but politicians — even presidents — don’t and shouldn’t do that.

    Reagan didn’t stand there like a chump while being insulted and obstructed. Clinton didn’t, Bush (neither one) didn’t, and neither should Obama.

    Man up, wingnuts.

    • Anonymous

      Repulicans didn’t stand up and call themselves the post partisian president, the healer in cheif, Obama did that he’s set himself up for this. Besides this is just shoe on the other foot stuff so Obama needs to man up stop blaming everyone and anyone for the failures during his watch.

      • Anonymous

        Maybe you can show me a quote where Obama called HIMSELF a post-partisan president or healer-in-chief. I don’t think you can. People have said those things ABOUT him, but he’s never made claims like that. Even his famous “This was the moment when the seas began to subside…” quote was about the movement he was leading, not about himself per se.

        Those of us of a certain age may remember Nixon telling a story about a little kid at one of his campaign events holding a sign that said, “Bring Us Together” and how it inspired him, how HE was going to be the President who “brought us together.” Can you imagine? Dick Fucking Nixon!!!

        The point is no modern president stays “above the fray” except in the most cynical, ostentatious, Rose-Garden-campaign kind of way. When it becomes necessary, every president mixes it up with his opponents. Cooperman’s admonition for Obama, if taken as advice by him, would mean to concede the 2012 election. Ain’t gonna happen.

        • Anonymous

          So you don’t remember Obama’s no Red States no Blue States speech? You haven’t read his book? There are a number of times that Obama has called himself the only adult in the room as if to say hey I’m above it all. But if you think he didn’t promise to be a healer then fine you can believe that if you like. On the other hand even if he hasn’t claimed to be post partisian does that mean he has to be partisian turned up to 11?

  • With all her money, you’d think she could afford some real pearls to
    clutch instead of this sad collection of dime store trinkets seemingly
    strung together with alligator tears.