Charles Koch, the Kansas billionaire known for funding right-wing causes with his brother David, created a stir this week by suggesting that Hillary Clinton might be a worthier candidate for president than any remaining of the Republicans.
“We would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric, let me put it that way,” he told an interviewer. “But on some of the Republican candidates ... before we could support them, we’d have to believe their actions will be quite different than the rhetoric we’ve heard so far.”
Is Koch right? Or is he causing trouble for Clinton as she works to seal the Democratic nomination? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.
Charles Koch was right.
Oh, let’s assume he was up to something devilish: He had to have known such comments would be seized by the Bernie-loving, Koch-brother-hating base of the Democratic Party and be used to try to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. Sure enough, that’s what happened.
But it didn’t work: Clinton won four of the five states that held primaries on Tuesday and appears ready to clinch the Democratic nomination.
All that said, though, Charles Koch was essentially right: Clinton is probably the best candidate out there for most “never Trump” Republicans. Why do I say that? Because I already said it, back in early March, in this very column.
What I wrote then remains true: “Despite all the GOP’s attempts to take down the Clintons over the last 25 years, the truth is that Hillary Clinton and her husband hail from the moderate wing of the party. They defend abortion, yes, but they’ve time and time again co-opted or signed onto conservative ideas ranging from welfare reform to Middle Eastern wars. She’s even a darling of Wall Street!”
Full disclosure: I’m a liberal who likes what Bernie Sanders is selling — but I think Clinton is better suited to be president, precisely because she can better defend progressive achievements of the last eight years. So she’s no Republican, whatever Sanders supporters say or the Kochs might hint.
But Donald Trump is the likely GOP nominee, one whose effect on the country and its government over the next four years are anybody’s guess. If you’re a conservative in the Burkean sense — that is, you’d like to conserve American institutions and keep them around for awhile — Clinton is far more likely to leave behind a government and country recognizable to most Americans.
The coming election is likely to feature a woman who has spent most of her life in public service — she’s flawed, yes, but has often been slandered along the way — versus a reality TV star with multiple bankruptcies under his belt.
How stark is the disparity? Even Charles Koch knows this is a good year to vote for the Democrats.
Everybody gets the Koch brothers wrong, but the media most of all. It’s embarrassing.
ABC News touted its interview with Charles Koch as somehow revelatory because he criticized Republican presidential candidates and didn’t lambaste Hillary Clinton.
Big deal. It’s much ado about little.
Fact is, Charles and his brother haven’t “put a penny” into any of the Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns because they typically stay out of primary elections, as he said during the interview.
But the odds that the brothers would put any pennies into Clinton’s campaign are virtually nil.
The Kochs and their foundations generally support free-market candidates and causes. They favor free trade and open borders. They dislike excessive regulation of industry and the government’s meddling in the financial markets. They’re skeptical of the politicized science behind global climate change. To them, government-run health care is anathema.
Clinton likes what the Kochs dislike and dislikes what they like. It’s pretty simple, really.
But the brothers confuse people because they’re more libertarian than most Republicans. (In David Koch’s case, he actually ran on the Libertarian Party ticket in the 1980 presidential election.) They favor same-sex marriage and the legalization of drugs. They’re on the same page as the Obama administration when it comes to criminal justice reform.
Oh, and these big oil billionaires also happened to oppose the war in Iraq.
Yet ABC tried to portray Charles Koch as a cartoon caricature of a right-wing plutocrat who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buy elections over the past decade.
“People say you control the Republican Party because of all that money,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl said. (It wasn’t a question so much as an assertion.)
“If I controlled the Republican Party,” Koch replied, “we would not have a two-tiered system. We would not have a tax code that subsidizes the wealthy. We would get rid of all of that. So, obviously, I don’t control anything.”
That’s the funny thing about billionaires and elections. Money isn’t everything. Just ask Donald Trump. His campaign has raised about $49 million so far, while Clinton’s has gathered $182 million for a contest she was supposed to win in a walk.
That may be why Charles and David Koch are saving their money. Trump is winning.