With a Koch and a smile: the softer side of big money

15.06.2014

One of the most striking discoveries from last month’s interview with Edward Snowden was how unremarkable he seemed. Blondish, pale, disarming—neither traitor nor hero—he turned out to be just an ordinary man with an extraordinary story to tell. The systems analyst that inspired a thousand conspiracy theories was reduced to the IT guy he actually is/was. As political theatre, it was brilliant. The Koch brothers (as in “coke,” the fuel made from coal, not “Koch,” the late, great mayor of NYC) seem to have taken this lesson to heart with a new commercial called “We are Koch.” Yes, the bête noire of the 99%, bankrollers of the Tea Party and underwriters of such major cultural and educational institutions as the New York City Ballet and MIT are out to show that, like Snowden, they’re both more and less than you think they are. They’re job-creators, idea-generators and supporters of “opportunities for people everywhere.” Who knew? You half expect to hear Kumbaya playing softly in the background. But, alas, it does not and what we see looks like every other industrial in the category. Which is to say, a lot of self-reverential bloviating. But the real story behind the feel-good spot, I suspect, is not a pitch to investors but to get a jump on the upcoming documentary, “Citizen Koch,” that tracks the ruinous effect of the Citizens United decision and the unlimited, anonymous spending by corporations and Koch-like plutocrats on the electoral process. (The eponymous and anonymous citizens never appear in their commercial either.) They say money can’t buy you love. But the Koch bros are sure hoping it can bury the opposition.

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