The Selfishly Generous

William Ackman, a New York City hedge-fund manager, wants to renovate his penthouse. These being the dumbest of times, this is a local controversy in New York.

And in the dumbest of times, the Times is at its dumbest: At the beginning of Ginia Bellafante’s column about the controversy, she counts Ackman among the city’s “selfishly rich” but then only a few paragraphs below notes that “Ackman has been an enormously generous donor” to the New York Historical Society, whose president has offered support to Ackman’s plans.

So Ackman is one of the selfish when that is rhetorically useful for tarring him, and he is enormously generous when that is rhetorically useful for tarring the New York Historical Society and bringing the motives of its president into question.

Which is it? Saint Paul may have been all things to all people, but William Ackman is just a hedge-fund guy, and he is going to have to be one or the other.

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