Does "50 Shades of Grey" offer any insight into billionaires like the Koch Brothers?
The "mommy porn" book trilogy and the new movie upon which it is based tells the story of Christian Grey, a young, hunky member of the world's top 1 percent who draws a callow college girl into his orbit and gets her to agree to be the submissive partner in a sado-masochistic bondage relationship. The books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. With a fan base like that, the movie, which premieres today, is likely to be a monster hit.
Charles and David Koch, by comparison, are two not-so-hunky old industrialists who draw Republican candidates into their orbit and get them to agree to a submissive relationship in return for campaign contributions. Last month, it was announced that they plan to spend $889 million in the 2016 election cycle to expand their dominance in Republican Party politics.
Like winsome co-eds hungering for a hot hookup, four GOP presidential candidates accepted invitations to the Koch's annual January retreat for big donors in Rancho Mirage, California. The willing foursome included Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the junior senators from Florida, Texas and Kentucky, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. They -- and the many other president-wannabes in the party -- have a deep desire for the Koch's approval and a piece of the brothers' engorged campaign fund.
"It's no wonder the candidates show up when the Koch brothers call," David Axelrod, President Obama's former campaign guru, said in comments to the press. "That's exponentially more money than any party organization will spend. In many ways, they have superseded the party."
Living beyond the boundaries that confine normal mortals is what being a billionaire is all about. Christian Grey has a secret room where he hides his array of intimidating sex toys and bondage tools. The Koch brothers have their secret donations that are nearly impossible to track, thanks to flaccid campaign finance laws made even more limp by rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Grey has his sleek top-end sports cars, his handy helicopter and his vast penthouse at the top of a Seattle high rise. The Koch's have their family foundations, super PACs and think tanks in which they invest hundreds of millions of dollars with the aim of killing universal health care and environmental regulations and keeping the federal government from constricting their capitalist cravings.
Billionaires want what they want and believe they deserve to get it because they are rich. Mr. Grey wants a young woman to tie up and slap around in his secret room. The Koch's want to buy compliant politicians with their secret donations. Social critics slam "50 Shades of Grey" for encouraging abuse of women. Political observers criticize the Koch's for abusing the political system.
The big difference between Christian Grey and Charles and David Koch? Mr. Grey is a fictitious character; the Kochs are all too real.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go tolatimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.