The Wall Street Journal's editorial page has come out swinging in defense of Tom Perkins, the 82-year-old venture capitalist who compared what he called the persecution of the rich in America to the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany.
Perkins, who co-founded the firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in the 1970s, made his explosive comments in a letter to the WSJ over the weekend. "I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its 'one percent,' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich,' " he wrote.
An epic Internet freakout ensued. Fortunately, the gallant WSJ op-ed page, owned by News Corp., where Perkins was until recently a board member, came to his rescue. (While we're on the subject of former jobs, I used to work for the WSJ, too, though not the op-ed page.)
The Nazi comparison was "unfortunate," admitted the WSJ's editorial team, in a piece pubbed late Wednesday night. But the WSJ also declared Perkins' larger point -- that the super-rich are demonized by the press and "liberals" -- right on target. The outraged response to his letter proves the point, the WSJ triumphantly noted.
The editors even found time to take shots at their rivals, including those nutty liberals (LOL) at Bloomberg View, writing: "The boys at Bloomberg View -- we read them since no one else does -- devoted an entire editorial to inequality and Mr. Perkins's 'unhinged Nazi rant.' "
You can read that Bloomberg View piece here. Basically, columnist Jonathan Bernstein observed that the rich seem quite paranoid these days. Maybe because, deep down, they know it's weird that their incomes have shot ever upwards since the recession, while everyone else has been stuck in an economic malaise? Just speculating here....
Probably Perkins doesn't have that crumb of self-awareness. This is a "legendary venture capitalist" (the WSJ's phrasing) who freely copped to his tremendous ego on national TV.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV this week, Perkins did admit a smidgen of remorse about comparing the progressive movement to Kristallnacht -- a hellish night in Germany and parts of Austria in 1938 when Nazi forces demolished Jewish-owned properties, killed people and dragged tens of thousands away to concentration camps.
In the interview, Perkins apologized for using that "awful word" -- Kristellnacht. Still, like the folks at the WSJ, Perkins emphasized to Bloomberg that he doesn't regret his message.
And perhaps that's not too surprising. This is how a WSJ reporter described Perkins in a 2007 piece about the venture capitalist's $150 million yacht: "He's rich, he's vulgar and he's proud."