This profile of Bill Ackman is pure gold. As with Elon, the origin story of his turn to the right was motivated in large measure by a child, in this case his daughter learning things and thinking about them:
Ackman left Cambridge to join the managerial class — he started a hedge fund and became a billionaire — and didn’t spend too much time thinking about his alma mater. He gave a little money in the ’90s, earmarked for Holocaust studies. In 2014, he funded a center for behavioral economics with a professorship in his name and tossed $5 million to the crew team. His nephew enrolled at Harvard, as did his eldest daughter — which, Ackman told me recently, is where the trouble started.
“She became, like, an anti-capitalist. Like practically a Marxist,” Ackman said in January, leaning across a large conference-room table at the offices of his hedge fund, Pershing Square. “We’d talk about capitalism, and she would freak out at the table.” His daughter was in the social-studies department just like her father, and rowed crew, too, but she had chosen to write her thesis on “The Concept of Reification in Western Marxist Thought,” having come to very different conclusions than her father had about how the world should work. Ackman said it felt as though she “had been indoctrinated” into a cult. Father and daughter eventually made up — he bought her a copy of Das Kapital as a present for her graduation in 2020 — but in hindsight, Ackman saw it as an early warning. “That was an indicator, but I didn’t know if that was just my daughter or what,” he said. “I didn’t think, like, the biology department was involved.”
“Anybody who disagrees with me must be indoctrinated” is a good summary of the Chris Rufo theory of education.
Anyway, I’m not sure his daughter felt the need to get an education at all when she had access to this level of intellectual firepower at home:
Ackman believes that our lives are often fated from birth. “I have a view that people become their names,” he told me. “Like, I’ve met people named Hamburger that own McDonald’s franchises.” We’d been talking for nearly an hour and a half when Ackman asked me what my name was, hoping to offer a diagnosis. After he seemed momentarily stumped by my surname, I offered him my first name, which he misheard as Reed. “Read … write,” he said, before turning back to himself. “So, my name is Ackman — it’s like Activist Man.”
And you will also not be surprised to learn that this Marty Peretz protege is already doing his “the party left me” routine, and after dabbling with RFK Jr. settled on the guy who couldn’t beat Marianne Williqmson in South Carolina:
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ackman joined a Twitter Spaces conversation with Elon Musk and Dean Phillips, the Minnesota representative running a long-shot campaign against Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. Ackman had endorsed Phillips, and he told the 20,000 listeners, including the accounts for Marjorie Taylor Greene and @EndWokeness, that he was “ashamed” of today’s Democratic Party. He has predicted that Trump will win if Biden is the Democratic candidate. Before settling on Phillips, Ackman had looked for alternatives in Harvard graduate Vivek Ramaswamy, Harvard graduate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Harvard graduate Jamie Dimon, whom he had encouraged to make a run. Would Ackman, another Harvard graduate, ever consider running himself? Some of his friends think he might. “He’s going through a period of growth — a period of expansion — because it turns out this political activism is quite fun, and I believe the adulation he feels will push him to do a lot more of it,” the longtime Ackman associate told me. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him running for office. And if you ask what office, you don’t know Bill Ackman.” Ackman himself said in December that “if the country wanted me at some point, I would be open to it.”
Oh yes, please run for president. We could all use a laugh right now, and the Dean Phillips campaign will be useful experience. Both sides will be trying to squeeze his one percent, but conversation is an important place to be inside of!
Anyway, I would suggest that Harvard start using its fuck-you money to tell this guy fuck you.