Filthy rich, but not very smart A bil­lion­aire blows a fortune at­tempt­ing to im­peach Trump

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Some­times “the filthy rich” among us do great and good things with their money. More than a few Amer­i­can towns and cities have li­braries to­day be­cause An­drew Carnegie, a steel baron of an ear­lier age, ded­i­cated his wealth to get­ting them started. Many of Henry Ford’s mil­lions were ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion, though some of those mil­lions wound up in du­bi­ous places. Rock­e­feller mil­lions and Wal­ton mil­lions have done much to en­rich schools, mu­se­ums and art gal­leries.

But some of our mod­ern bil­lion­aires have only proved that be­ing rich doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make you smart. Tom Steyer, a San Francisco hedge­fund op­er­a­tor, has built a net worth of $1.6 bil­lion, which puts him in the top 1 per­cent of the 1 per­centers whom the far left rou­tinely vil­i­fies. He’s tol­er­ated be­cause he spreads his wealth around to an ar­ray of Demo­cratic can­di­dates and left-wing causes.

Lately he has been on a spend­ing spree to im­peach Don­ald Trump. So far he has spent $40 mil­lion, com­pet­ing with Rep. Max­ine Waters of Texas to be the rec­og­nized face of the Im­peach Trump folly. To be sure, $40 mil­lion is chump change for a man with mon­ey­bags the size of Mr. Steyer’s, but some wiser Democrats think that $40 mil­lion could be more ef­fec­tively spent on par­ti­san projects that might even suc­ceed.

Mr. Steyer’s one-man cru­sade is called “Need to Im­peach,” and he wants to get on with the pro­ceed­ings be­fore any­one has come up with im­peach­able ev­i­dence. He has been criss­cross­ing the coun­try rent­ing ho­tel space for town hall-style events, invit­ing suf­fer­ers of Trump Derange­ment Syn­drome to come in­side to lis­ten to his scheme to per­suade the Repub­li­can Congress to im­peach a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent.

“Don­ald Trump has brought us to the brink of nu­clear war, ob­structed jus­tice, and taken money from for­eign govern­ments,” he says on his Need­toim­ web­site. “We need to im­peach this dan­ger­ous pres­i­dent.” The pres­i­dent, un­able as usual to sti­fle him­self and let oth­ers make his case, snaps ea­gerly at the bait, call­ing Mr. Steyer “wacky and to­tally un­hinged.”

Mr. Steyer, for his part, seems de­ter­mined to make the pres­i­dent’s point. In Largo, Md., the other night one per­suaded mem­ber of a sparse crowd told The Wash­ing­ton Post, “I’m just glad to be here. It was ei­ther this or scream into my pil­low some more.”

Most Democrats, with a cred­i­ble ex­pec­ta­tion of mak­ing deep cuts in the Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives this fall, are walk­ing a fine line try­ing to keep at arm’s length Mr. Steyer, but not his money. They look with lust at the $10 mil­lion he has spent al­ready on tele­vi­sion and drool at the prospect of what that money might ac­tu­ally do in wiser hands.

Mr. Steyer, who lives in House Demo­cratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s district, hosted a fundraiser last sum­mer that raised nearly $600,000 for the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. Mrs. Pelosi is one of the Democrats ea­ger to take Mr. Steyer’s cash, but thinks the path back to a Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity runs through re­al­ity, not fan­tasy, no mat­ter how well­funded. She says (in other words, to be sure) that she would be pleased if Mr. Steyer would tend to his in­vest­ment port­fo­lios, and shut up.

Two pro­ce­dural votes on im­peach­ment forced by Democrats in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary at­tracted only 58 and 66 votes in the House, but gave the un­hinged a way to make a lit­tle harm­less noise. A re­cent Marist poll, con­ducted for NPR and PBS, shows the size of the job ahead for Mr. Steyer, Mrs. Waters and the like-minded strug­gling to over­come the symp­toms of Trump Derange­ment Syn­drome.

The poll of 827 reg­is­tered vot­ers, taken April 10-13, found that only 42 per­cent of vot­ers would vote for a can­di­date de­ter­mined to im­peach the pres­i­dent, and 47 per­cent would vote against such a can­di­date. Ten per­cent said they were not sure.

The wise Democrats un­der­stand that im­peach­ing Don­ald Trump, how­ever it might make them tin­gle all the way down to their toes, is no sub­sti­tute for an agenda to run on, this year and two years hence when the party is ex­pected to field a can­di­date to run against Mr. Trump. They’ll need all the bil­lion­aires they can find.

Mr. Steyer, with his bil­lions to squan­der, in­vites the taunt that “if you’re so rich, why ain’t you smart?” Don Quixote is re­garded by his­tory as a lit­tle bit wacky and to­tally de­ranged, which makes him not much of a inspiratio­n for un­hinged hedge-fund bil­lion­aires. Don Quixote fin­ished his cru­sade with a bro­ken lance, and the wind­mills are still there. Les­son un­learned.

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