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Shrill Ackman

Cringe Twitter postings by hedge funder reveal one comforting truth: Money doesn’t buy smarts

by
Liel Leibovitz
March 01, 2022
Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Most of us walk around thinking that the megarich get the sort of intel the rest of us could never afford, which makes them, if not more intelligent, at least infinitely better informed. It’s nice, then, to learn that our uber-wealthy can spout flamboyantly ignorant nonsense as wildly as brain-dead plebes on Twitter.

Exhibit A: Bill Ackman. Number 391 on the Forbes 400 list, the hedge fund manager spent the past week thirstily tweeting silly pablum about Ukraine. “You can fix the errors of the past and protect our future,” he intoned, adopting the voice of a Very Serious Person. “With all due respect, Mr. President, the time is now.” The cringe was ... a lot. But if the dude who the other month bought a billion-dollar stake in Netflix wants to audition for the reboot of West Wing, c’est la vie, I guess.

Then, however, the performatively inane turned into the spectacularly stupid when Ackman retweeted a call for Israel to supply Ukraine with its Iron Dome missile defense system, adding his own passioned plea for the Jewish state to do the right thing:

Responding to Ackman, a vastly wiser investor, Michael Eisenberg, offered a much too polite account of everything Ackman got wrong, all of which is evident to anyone with a basic internet connection. Let’s go slow for the intellectually challenged titans of the universe among us: First, Iron Dome is a joint project of Israel and the United States, which means Jerusalem can’t just put the whole thing in a box and ship it to Kyiv. Then there’s the pesky fact that the complex system requires highly skilled operators, who in turn need a lot of dedicated training and time to put it into place, none of which is particularly helpful to a nation under attack this minute.

But really the icing on the cake is the best part: The reason Israel is in the pickle it’s in at all is because of Barack Obama, to whom Sir Bill has been a generous donor.

As Eisenberg patiently explained, the 44th president paved the way for Russia to establish itself on Israel’s northern border when he failed to act upon the red lines he himself had imposed on Syria’s Assad when the latter giddily massacred his own people. And with Obama’s vice president now in the Oval Office and picking up his former boss’s talks with Iran, expecting Israel to step up, defy its own vital security interests, upset the major power now perched on its border thanks to Washington’s calamitous foreign policy and put its trust instead in the same American team that mucked it up in the first place is, to put it politely, not a very smart thing to say.

When you come to understand that it was these people who delivered disaster, the reality becomes so ironic as to be laugh-out-loud funny: Ukraine’s problem actually isn’t Israel. It’s ... Bill Ackman.

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.

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