“Battle of the Billionaires” is a Distraction from your Disempowerment


Were you wondering whether people-power could defeat the Bloomberg juggernaut? Wonder no more — now that rich upstate meddler Tom Golisano has pledged to fight the Mayor’s term-limit overthrow, it’s the “Battle of the Billionaires,” says WCBS. Also using the term: WNBC, the New York Times, Politics on the Hudson, the New York Daily News, Newsday, the Observer, WHAM radio, etc. And that’s just today! (On April 14, sensing it had not long to live, the New York Sun applied it to a prospective Bloomberg-Lauder duel, which was of course averted.)

WCBS also calls it “A Face-Off Between The Filthy Rich,” which opens the floor to tyros like us to come up with other alliterations — the Tussle of the Tycoons, the Ruckus of the Rich, Plutocrats’ Punch-Up, Fat-Cat Fisticuffs, the Thriller in the House of Barry Diller, etc.

It’s all good fun until somebody loses a democratic privilege. Golisano, who has been terrorizing local politicians with capricious endorsements and donations from his self-funded $5 million PAC, says he just wants to make sure the People “make the decision on this term limits issue,” but his idea of the People sounds like Charles Foster Kane’s — powerless children needing the assistance of paternal oligarchs. (Ooh, there’s another one — the Ass-Kicking of the Oligarchs.)

Some prominent citizens are already feeling the tremors of billionaire-on-billionaire action. The normally unflappable Ed Koch tells Urbanite, now that Golisano is swinging his wallet, “it’s going to be harder” to overthrow term limits.

Who knows what’s going on inside Bloomberg’s and Golisano’s heads? Mostly Scrooge McDuck fantasies, we guess, though we may just be projecting. But we suspect, black-hearted class warriors that we are, that neither of them much likes the kind of raucous, unmannerly displays some common folk have been making of the controversy. Not only are such displays vulgar — they also might excite feelings of something other than powerlessness and submission among the electorate. And that wouldn’t be good for either Bloomberg or Golisano, who would prefer electoral power be accepted as a gift rather than demanded as a right.

Better to let them know that the big boys are taking care of it, and they can go back to their little lives. Maybe that’s the real story here. Call it to Pacification of the Proles.