That said, I do think it’s wrong to call anybody “un-American.” To the contrary, the Koch brothers are every bit as American as John D. Rockefeller, H.L. Hunt or Scrooge McDuck, dabbling in his private bullion pool. The comic-heroic figure of the tycoon furiously stamping his little webbed feet because people are free to disagree with him has long been a staple of national life.
Like Charles and David Koch, who inherited hundreds of millions from their oilman father — a founding member of the John Birch Society, which famously held that President Eisenhower was a card-carrying member of the International Communist Conspiracy — the legacy of these characters often includes crackpot megalomania. Hence “collectivists,” a polite euphemism.
Koch’s Syndrome, you might call it: combining an obsessive-compulsive need to accumulate money -- these boys are worth $100 billion, but they’re nevertheless bitter about paying taxes -- along with a deep-seated fear of being found unworthy. Surrounded by obsequious underlings all their lives, they’ve no idea if they’ve ever really deserved it.
It may also be significant that Tom Perkins is 82, and Charles and David Koch are 78 and 73, respectively.
Time’s winged chariot draws near, and there’s no baggage compartment.
Gene Lyons is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.