Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Koch brothers are about to become even more famous, and that's a good thing

By Richard K. Barry

In yesterday's New York Times, writers Jeremy W. Peters and Carl Hulse note that Democrats have begun to attack the Koch brothers with a tactic they successfully used against Mitt Romney in the 2102 campaign. This is to say that they are attacking the "brothers' sprawling business conglomerate as callous and indifferent to the lives of ordinary people while pursuing profit and power. "
By drawing public attention to layoffs by subsidiaries of Koch Industries across the country — a chemical plant in North Carolina, an oil refinery in Alaska, a lumber operation in Arkansas — Democrats are seeking to make villains of the reclusive billionaires, whose political organizations have spent more than $30 million on ads so far to help Republicans win control of the Senate.

Obviously, the parallel with Romney is that he was effectively painted as a Mr. Burns-type far more concerned with his own bottom line than with the well-being of his employees.

Some Republicans are claiming that the approach won't work, that taking shots at the Koch brothers will deplete resources and energy Democrats would be smarter to use elsewhere, presumably in efforts to challenge actual candidates.

For example, Tim Phillips, head of Americans for Prosperity, a pro-Republican political advocacy group, says that "Mitt Romney was the candidate for president of the United States...That's the big difference. David Koch (one of the two brothers) isn't running for anything. This just points to what bad shape they're in."

Okay. That's an interesting perspective.  But many voters tend to see shadowy influences pulling the strings of elected officials. And though the Supreme Court may have equated money with speech, many Americans understand that money buys things it shouldn't be able or allowed to buy. In light of recent Supreme Court decisions, which will have the effect of pouring even more money into the electoral process, I would not be so sure the Koch brothers will be an ineffective target for Democratic attacks. 

Perhaps the most important feeling to be exploited in politics is the feeling of powerlessness. The right has, albeit illegitimately, created and then exploited a sense of powerless among certain elements of the electorate when it comes to Obamacare. 

In contrast to Tim Phillip's argument, the fact that the Koch brothers aren't running for anything, but working in the shadows, is what makes then so salient an image of corruption in the process, and powerlessness for the electorate. 

Release the hounds. 

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  • release the kracken!!

    By Blogger skippy, at 12:23 PM  

  • AFP is more than a GOP shill - it is paid for by the Kochs, they own it. Having them say the approach is a bad idea is a good indicator we should be doing more of it!

    By Blogger frankly, at 7:40 PM  

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