In the second childhood, according to Shakespeare, the pretenses of adulthood fall away “turning away toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in sound”. The bard forgot to add a special mention, though we cannot really blame him — billionaires being all a-twitter. US President Donald Trump, arguably the most high-profile troll in the world, has a new rival. Fellow septuagenarian, New Yorker, and would-be Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.
The spat between the men has taken a decidedly juvenile turn, even by Trump’s standards. Bloomberg, the 12th richest man in the world, is financing his own campaign and — this is what probably bothers Trump the most — is far wealthier than the US president. “Mini Mike Bloomberg is a LOSER who has money but can’t debate and has zero presence, you will see,” tweeted the president, next to an image of Bloomberg being dwarfed by a stack of paper. Bloomberg retorted by claiming the “same people we know in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown”. The conversation continued in this dignified vein for sometime, with Trump even playing the poor (less obscenely rich) underdog at one point, and Bloomberg calling him dumb.
There are people who will look down at name-calling, lament the fall in standards of public discourse. Others will enjoy the plainspeaking, arguing that the bluntness of the exchange is the language of the people, not the high-minded obfuscations of out-of-touch career politicians. And then there’s the cynical view: The childish exchange by seasoned businessmen might just be a deliberate distraction. The only real loser, though, is Twitter. Between them, Trump and Bloomberg will spend millions on their campaigns. The social media platform just gave billionaires free ad space.
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