Buffett Watch

Buffett's Not-So-Tough Choice: Barack or Hillary?

Warren Buffett's political life is getting more attention.  Today, the Associated Press has a piece on how he "may have to apply his legendary stock-picking skills" in the race for the White House.  As was pointed out when he hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, Buffett hasn't rushed to make an endorsement, praising both Clinton and Barack Obama as excellent Presidential material.  He's even talked up a potential Michael Bloomberg-Arnold Schwarzenegger ticket: "That would be one hell of a team, wouldn't it?"

The AP quotes University of Nebraska at Omaha political scientist Loree Bykerk as saying Buffett's reluctance to take the plunge suggests he still thinks the Democratic nomination is up for grabs.  When he does decide, Warren's word will carry some weight.  "Insofar as he's seen as an excellent decision-maker, very competent, down to earth, and with Middle American values, there's almost no downside to that endorsement," according to Bykerk.

But, of course, not everyone is embracing Buffett's political views, especially his very public, recent calls for the wealthy to pay more taxes.  A widely distributed opinion piece by radio host Larry Elder asks if Buffett is suffering from a "Case of the Guilts?" and questions his assertion that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  Gerard Jackson writes from Australia on the Free-Market News Network site that Buffett "may be brilliant when it comes to picking stocks but .. he is a blithering buffoon" when he supports the Democrats.

And one of Warren Buffett Watch's  loyal (we hope) readers had this to say in an email to us:

"Don't you find it interesting that Buffett was whining last week at a H. Clinton fundraiser that he paid less income tax to the Feds than his administrative assistant ... then this week gives $2B to Gates and other foundations?  Using Mr. Buffett's flawed logic shouldn't he send the cash to Uncle Sam and help out with the deficit?"

Why are Warren's political proclamations getting more attention these days?  The AP quotes Buffett biographer Andy Kilpatrick as saying it's at least partly due to "Buffett's growing visibility as a philanthropist."

Questions?  Comments?  Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com