Hoping to share with readers the politics of the Washington Post's new owner, a reporter there has posted a chart of billionaires that includes Newport Beach's own Donald Bren, who is positioned to the far right, only slightly less so than one Koch brother and just about even with the other. I knew the Irvine Co. chairman often breaks the cobwebs holding his billfold closed to give to Republicans, but I never thought of "The Donald" of the Left Coast being that conservative politically.
No, Bren has always struck me as more moderate than where he falls on the chart in the Post that Dylan Matthews uses to help define the libertarian-leaning Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon and, as of Aug. 5, the new other of the newspaper that helped bring down Nixon.
Nixon. There we go. The kind of Republican Nixon was is the kind of Republican I'd assumed Bren is. You know, pretty much sticks to his conservative principles without being an ideologue all the time. More pragmatic and willing to give on the environment, public assistance, some social issues, car key parties, etc.
Not so, according to the rankings Kevin Collins pointed Matthews to that were actually compiled by political scientists Adam Bonica (Stanford), Nolan McCarty (Princeton), Keith T. Poole (Georgia) and Howard Rosenthal (NYU). They based their findings on the politics of the recipients of contributions from the billionaires. Below the spots on the chart where the fat cats fall is a row of corresponding politicians.
So, picture a line where, on the left, going from farthest point to the center, you'll find Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders, and to the right of them Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and to the right of them Bill Clinton and Andrew Cuomo. Now look up, and you'll notice the farthest billionaire on the left, just slightly left of Obama, is Larry Page. To the right of him is Sergey Brin and just right of him, pretty much splitting the Clintons, is George Soros.
Look at the opposite end, and the politician at the farthest right is Ron Paul and moving from there toward the center are Michelle Bachmann, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. Up in the billionaires' section, Charles Koch is farthest to the right, although that only puts him just a tad past Romney. The next row of billionaires slightly less to the right of Charles Koch include Don Bren, David Koch and Michael Dell.
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Bezos is positioned on the chart slightly to the left of true center, with Paul Allen the closest billionaire to his left and Steve Ballmer the closest to the right. The politician the trio most closely aligns to is Joe Manchin, the center-right Democratic senator from West Virginia.
"As with any estimates like this, it's important not to read too much into the numbers, especially when you're using only one dimension," writes Matthews.
That comes pretty much after he used only one dimension.