Charles Koch says he won’t “put a penny” into trying to stop Donald Trump, that there are “terrible role models” among the remaining Republican presidential candidates, and that his massive political network may decide to sit out of the presidential race entirely.He says he and his brother don't like the trash talk in the Republican campaign and don't appreciate Cruz's talk of carpet bombing. He said that Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric has been reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
"These personal attacks and pitting one person against the other -- that's the message you're sending the country," Koch said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that aired Sunday. "You're role models and you're terrible role models. So how -- I don't know how we could support 'em."
But here's what drew the headlines:
Koch went so far as to say the GOP nightmare of another Clinton presidency might be a better alternative to the remaining Republican candidates at this point.Which is not to say that the brothers like what Clinton is saying:
"It's possible," he said.
'We would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric. Let me put it that way,' he said.Sandersites think they know what's going on:
Not a fan of Trump but the Koch brothers just want a candidate they can control. Hilary loves money & would do they're bidding 4 right price— Music snob (@Jjumperjr) April 25, 2016
I believe the Trump part of that argument, but not the Clinton part. Why would the Kochs like Hillary Clinton any more than they liked Barack Obama? Obama's 2008 campaign rhetoric was progressive, but he came into office with an economic team largely drawn from the financial establishment -- and yet the Koch brothers went after him from the very beginning of his term, bankrolling Tea Party groups in order to undermine him. Why would the Kochs' reaction to President Hillary be any different?
I think the reason the Kochs seem sanguine about this year's presidential race is that they more or less agree with a different pronouncement that's common among Sandersites. Here's comedian Jimmy Dore articulating it on a recent Young Turks broadcast:
Jimmy Dore - Hillary a fascist by DailyPolitics
... look how bad the Democrats got their asses handed to them in the midterms. And that's with a popular guy like Barack Obama as president. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the president, they get their ass cleaned even harder in the midterm elections! But, if Trump is president, the Democrats take over the House and the Senate.I think the Kochs believe Clinton will be easy to demonize as president and then run against in 2018 and beyond. (By the way, I also think they'd make a concerted effort to demonize and run against Bernie Sanders if he became president.)
David Atkins argues that they're playing a long game:
The Koch brothers ... see politics not as a series of pitched electoral battles to implement various legislative aims, but rather as a grand battle of ideologies in which the entire longitudinal direction of a country is determined. If some Republican careers are damaged in the process, so be it. If some (to them) odious regulations are implemented in the meantime, so be it. They intend to win the war over time, even if it means losing the occasional battle....I think they believe that if they can push a lot of economic and regulatory decisions down to the state and local levels, they'll win, because Kochite Republicans have done extraordinarily well in gubernatorial and legislative elections in the Obama years, and state after state is implementing Kochonomics -- slashing spending, shifting the tax burden to the poor, busting unions, and implementing voting restrictions that will lead to the election of more Kochites in the future.
They know that putting Hillary Clinton into office gives them potentially four years to run oppositional politics....
It appears that the nomination of longtime Koch brothers favorite Paul Ryan is a dream they've given up on, at least this year:
... despite his disagreements with the Republican frontrunners, [Charles Koch] doesn't believe House Speaker Paul Ryan should be selected in July as the party’s nominee....However, Ryan's non-presidential non-campaign -- his effort to be a very visible alternate face of the GOP in the event of a Trump (or maybe Cruz) general election campaign -- dovetails nicely with Koch efforts to win at the state and local levels. Ryan, you see, has put a veneer of moral philosophy on the idea of taking power away from the federal government:
While Koch said Ryan is “better on the issues” than the remaining field, he doesn’t think it would be appropriate to hand him the nomination as a “white knight” in the event of a contested convention.
“I don’t see how he could win,” Koch said. “If he did, I mean that would create the impression this whole thing is rigged, which -- that's the opposite of the direction we want to go.”
In an interview with David Brody on April 3rd 2012, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan introduced the Catholic concept of subsidiarity into American political discourse with a distinctly patriotic flourish:Ryan is still talking about this, as Kathleen Parker noted a few weeks ago:
“To me, the principle of subsidiarity, which is really federalism, meaning government closest to the people governs best, having a civil society of the principal of solidarity where we, through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities, through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community, that’s how we advance the common good. By not having big government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities.”
Ryan recently spoke to Hill interns of his philosophy in terms of subsidiarity as an organizing principle in both his Catholic faith and his politics.That's the message the Kochs want to send if Democrats are likely to hold the White House a while longer: federal power is bad, executive branch power is really bad, and everything should be kicked down to lower levels of government -- where elections are a lot cheaper to buy and Kochite Republicans routinely win. (If the government can be removed from a lot of aspects of American life altogether, that's even better, but that's a lot easier to accomplish at the state level, with Kochites running entire states.)
Politically, subsidiarity is the idea that matters should be handled by the smallest or least centralized competent authority. Similarly, in Catholic social thought, it means that nothing should be done by a larger centralized organization that can be done as well by a smaller organization.
Structurally, this is the argument behind federalism....
So, yeah, the Kochs have accepted that they're not going to get a favorite into the White House in 2016, and yes, they might not be sad if they have Hillary Clinton as president -- because they intend to use her as a foil. If you want to know how they expect that to work, read the news from 2009.