Monday, April 25, 2016


In an ABC interview released over the weekend, Charles Koch said that he and his brother David didn't think there was any point for them to try to intervene in the GOP nomination fight:
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.

"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."
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.

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.

"It's possible," he said.
Which is not to say that the brothers like what Clinton is saying:
'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:

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....

They know that putting Hillary Clinton into office gives them potentially four years to run oppositional politics....
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.

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....

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.”
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:
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:
“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 is still talking about this, as Kathleen Parker noted a few weeks ago:
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.

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....
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.)

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.


Fiddlin Bill said...

Here's an answer to your question of why the Kochs might "like" HRC more than Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama is black, and racism is an underlying theme in almost all right-wing politics. Also, at least prior to coming into office, Mr. Obama was an unknown relative to the Clintons, and seemed much more left than the governor of a southern state who, in 1992, had defeated the clearly more leftward, labor-oriented Tom Harkin. Back in them days I saw the Clintons are being more "Rockefeller Republicans" than anything else. History hasn't changed my opinion. Mrs. Clinton is the least likely candidate to rock any boats, something the Kochs as oligarchs most decidedly do not want. It's also true that the right wing, including the Kochs, have created a myth of radicalism around Mr. Obama which has never been accurate.

jsrtheta said...

And the hijacking of "federalism" continues apace. What Paul Ryan is talking about is the opposite of the original federalism. It is actually Antifederalism.

But, in Bizzaro World...

CH said...

I agree that the Kochs, if they decide against actively opposing her, will try to use HRC as a foil (assuming she gets elected). However, I'd add that such a purpose does not exclude another reason for non-opposition: (1) I think it very doubtful that an HRC administration (even with a temporarily D Senate if one is achieved) would seriously attempt, much less accomplish, anything all that inconvenient for the Kochs et al., and (2) as a corollary to (1), an HRC administration is very unlikely to do anything that would motivate increased off-year D turnout in '18, when the map will be uphill again for the D's.

Chris Andersen said...

The comments from the Koch brothers don't phase me all that much. They are at least practical even if their economic beliefs are not.

What disturbs me more is the comment from Sanders supporters that suggests that they *want* Clinton to fail as President so that will make it easier for a "real" progressive to defeat her in 2020. Part of that seems to include a desire that the 2018 mid-terms be a disaster for the Democrats.

2010 and 2014 could reasonably be argued to have happened in part because Democrats were to apathetic to come out and vote. But what they are talking about is Democrats actively *boycotting* the Democratic party in 2018 in order to punish them for not selecting Sanders in 2016.

That kind of talk is extremely dangerous.

Chris Andersen said...

BTW, this reminds me of a comment Rush Limbaugh said in 2008 about how it was (paraphrasing) more fun to be in the opposition than having to defend Republicans.

He's right. It is more fun (and more profitable) for certain Republicans when Democrats get in charge because demonizing the opposition is so much easier than actually having to run the show.

I fear that a not insignificant minority of Democrats (and ersatz Democrats) might feel the same way.

CH said...

Who, pray tell, is "they"? Just some random online Sanders supporters? If so, it means no more than some of the outre' comments one sees from random online Clinton supporters now and again. Most tempers cool over time.
This post does, however, suggest something I've expected: an effort to ensure that if HRC either loses the general, or has a sub-stellar first couple of years in office followed by low-D-turnout off-year losses in '18, the finger of blame will point at the "Sanders faction", if not Sanders himself.

Steve M. said...

There doesn't seem to be one particular Democratic group that fails to turn out in non-presidential elections. Everyone's to blame.

jsrtheta said...

Steve M., I agree with you entirely about singling out one Democratic faction. I probably could have been clearer.

My larger point is that, in order to really implement change, you have to get down in the weeds and do the hard work of organizing and going after down-ballot and low-lever seats, as well as trying to influence the essential philosophy of the party (to the extent it has one).

And I gravely doubt the committed "idealists" who are so zealous for Bernie will actually do that work. Few others do, as well, but if you're going to grouse about the party, then do something concrete besides showing up at rallies.

KenRight said...

What's the problem? The Koch Brothers are fake libertarians who supported the Iraq War, and funded its promotion.
Clinton has always been a fake liberal erstwhile Goldwater Girl (but more hawkish) hippie who is a real neolib, also supporting the Iraq War.

Obama, him too.

Feud Turgidson said...

There's this (very minor) controversy over whether Brit PM Harold Macmillen ever did in fact say to a journalist, "Events, dear boy: events" as to why he saw a party's pre-election political platforms less than compelling stuff. But the point is it was and is CREDIBLE.

in the spring of 2008, Obmama wasn't looking to any 'STIM', yet STIM there had to be due to the financial crises and collapse, and THAT turned out to be the vehicle by which Clean & Green Energy got a toehold. Without that, I really can't see the vehicle by which we'd ever have found a way to get $90 billions earmarked to that end. Also, go back in 2007, and Obama wasn't talking health care insurance reform AT ALL: it was the Dem debates involving HRC - by far the one pol in all the nation most identified with the issue - and the since discredited John Edwards that COMPELLED Obama to commit to a plan, which turned out to be more or less what we got in the ACA, plus or minus several billion industry and interest group and Congressional happy endings. And leave us not return to the dark days of whehn Obama not only didn't foresee marriage equality coming, he was AGAINST it.

I raise all this because I find efforts to predict and pigenon hole president HRC ahistorical and mind-numbingly dumb. Back in the mid-1920s, Frank Gannett's favorite national political figure was FDR because he saw Roosevelt as an effective elitist who could sweektalk the poor into accepting their lot yet maintain white elite privilege. By 1936 Gannett was beside himself with rage over where FDR had taken the federal government.

To borrow from Gold In the Kingdom, 'To f**k with such facile predictions and labels.