Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

VIEW FROM AMERICA: Gates Is Slob, But Microsoft Trial Is a Yawn




If it were the show trial of a mob boss - with side issues involving piano wire, bugged hangouts, cement-encased carcasses, cages full of warbling canaries, centrally cast gun molls and tampered jurors - the Microsoft anti-trust trial would justify the resources both sides are pouring into it.


But as one of the two corporate "cases of the century," the other being the bust-up of Standard Oil in 1911, it's a raging disappointment. As a corporate predator, Bill Gates is coming across about as fascinating as John Gotti's spaghetti recipes. The sessions at which the government says Microsoft plotted to "shut off Netscape's air supply" tell us little more than why capitalism is such a boring form of moral debauchery.


Without sex, with the lies all about money and market share, with no wronged women to milk our sympathy, without Linda Tripp and her broomstick or Monica Lewinsky and her thongs, just where does the Justice Department expect to get with its gentleman's idea that Gates is the anti-Christ of the competitive marketplace?


I'd say Bill has done a better job of demonizing himself. The sheer throw weight of the forces he has marshaled against the government would do justice to a rogue state.


This began, of course, with an internal Microsoft plan, mercifully aborted but embarrassingly exposed, that would have created a phony grassroots campaign to beatify Gates with planted letters to the editor and op-ed pieces to create the impression the nation had spontaneously risen in his defense.


And then, with all the subtlety of a trumpeting elephant, he announced that "in the early period of this company, we didn't think much about politics. Maybe we were a bit naive." So naive that it never occurred to Gates that the $140,000 he recently sent the Republican Party might win him a lot more friends than phony spin campaigns.


Well, his friends came stampeding out of the woodwork, none of them slobbering and gushing more than former Senator Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina, a former hog farmer who went on to lose a tight race for re-election. During the campaign, the two staged a love fest in Charlotte where Gates gave Lauch an additional pile of campaign money and the senator slobbered his thanks by declaring to an entirely spontaneous crowd of cheering Microsoft employees that "the idea of breaking up Microsoft is as ludicrous as breaking up the Braves or the Yankees."


Slobbering back, Gates declared that "we have become a lot more sophisticated about politics. And we have gone to people like Senator Faircloth to learn more about it."


This is Bill's idea of sophistication? Between this hog farmer and this Harvard dropout dude, I'd say Faircloth walked off with a piece of Bill Gates the nerd didn't even feel being lifted from his wallet.


And speaking of the obvious, Gates' sophisticated lawyer, John Warden, in opening arguments before the court in Washington, declared that "the anti-trust laws are not a code of civility in business." Good heavens, is John such a hayseed he needs to point this out?


Everybody knows antitrust laws have nothing to do with civility. They're something every well-run corporation conspires to spit on without getting hauled in for violating.


Robert Reno is a columnist for Newsday.