Ken Langone, one of the founders of Home Depot, should be fairly smart, right? I mean, if you, unlike me, attribute making a pile of money to brains.
But no, he’s not. And not simply because of this headline in the Daily News:
One of Gov. Cuomo’s top Republican backers backpedals after making remark
One of Gov. Cuomo’s top Republican supporters ignited an uproar Tuesday by comparing populist appeals targeting income inequality to arguments made by Nazis in pre-war Germany.
Kenneth Langone, the billionaire co-founder of The Home Depot and a chairman of Republicans for Cuomo, made the remark when asked by Politico how the rich view the political arguments made by Mayor de Blasio and other liberals.
“I hope it’s not working. Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying,” he said. “You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”
Eleven hours later, Langone backpedaled.
“My remarks were intended to discourage pitting one group against another group,” he said. “If my choice of words was inappropriate — and they well may have been that — I extend my profound apologies to anyone and everyone who I may have offended.”
That’s “backpedaling?” That’s a retraction? That’s an apology? No it’s not. What I needed to read was Langone speaking the truth, which is, “What a dumb asshole I am to have said what I said, especially because it’s the Neu Wannsee party line! I should have had my flacks re-write it, so it didn’t make me sound like a tool in the machine.”
And that’s what makes Langone dumb. Can you imagine, no matter what your politics, memorizing a line handed to you by somebody else and just opening your mouth and spewing it out as if it were your thought?
Cuomo’s Republican challenger for governor, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, called the remarks “outrageous” and demanded that Cuomo repudiate them.
“We can disagree in society. We’re supposed to disagree in society. That’s why you have different political parties. But all this extremist conversation anytime somebody disagrees with you has gone way too far,” said Astorino, speaking in Albany after addressing an evangelical Christian group.
Astorino is right, although I’d prefer that he’d been right not after speaking to “an evangelical Christian group.”
A coalition of liberal activists sent a letter to Cuomo calling on him to not only reject Langone’s comments, but also return his donations.
At day’s end, Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing said, “He apologized for using inappropriate words.”
De Blasio, a self-styled progressive who has locked horns with Cuomo for wanting to increase taxes on the wealthy to fund expanded prekindergarten and afterschool programs, demurred when asked if the governor should have chastised Langone.
“I think the comment was obviously over the top to say the least, so I think it’s perfectly appropriate if someone doesn’t want to speak to that,” the mayor said.
All good Huge Business Guys like Langone are repeating that line just as if their mush-brains were teeny pod-players controlled by the Koch Brothers, et al. And I’m not even delving into what kind of chips the Neu Wannsee-ites have embedded in their souls.
Of course, the line is mindlessly perverse, in every sort of way, and demonstrates how ignorant of 20th century history these “smart” rich guys are. The Nazis weren’t ginning up the paramilitary mobs and later the Gestapo and SS to haul rich men into concentration camps. Unless, of course, they were Jewish and had property that the Nazis could steal. And I don’t think Ken Langone — who seems to be wrapping himself in a metaphorical Tallit — is Jewish, unless he snuck in some Sephardic ancestry back when.
Although Langone wants the mithril-like protection of Jewish ritual garments, I should not have to remind him that they didn’t protect any Jews from the Nazis. But of course Langone doesn’t need the protection. We need it, from him.
And Langone followed the Koch party playbook in another way. He took some of his vast wealth, accumulated by hawking third-rate crap to unwitting shoppers, and donated to N.Y.U. Medical Center, but only if his name got slammed onto it. Just as David Koch donated money to Lincoln Center and got his name slammed onto the State Theater.
These are men whose politics are radically offensive to us New Yorkers, so they buy their way into New York society via contributions to Good Works and Art, and show up at “charity” functions beaming hugely, spreading their beneficence around. And presto chango! they now think they are New Yorkers? No. This whole nasty business reminds me of the days when the Church sold indulgences to rich people who could thereupon continue to live amoral, ugly lives and yet be assured they’d be welcome in Heaven. Dumb, dumb, in so many ways dumb.
Again, here’s the last lines from the Daily News: “Team Cuomo did neither [reject Langonge’s comments and return Langone’s donations]. Cuomo aide Matt Wing said only that Langonge ‘apologized for using inappropriate words.'”
“Inappropriate words.” Are you not sick to your stomach at hearing over and over and over that nonsensical phrase of pseudo-appeasement?
Cuomo better denounce this guy fast or else I won’t be trotting out to the polls to vote for him or to support any run he may make at the White House. If Ken Langone supports Andrew Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo does not represent me.