Have a Koch and a smile

22 Oct
A shorter version of this was published yesterday at The Hill.

Megyn Kelly has to be one of Roger Ailes smartest investments ever.  Kelly has been able to get many people who should not have gone on her show to do so, including the lying homunculus Dr. Jonathan Gruber and the cadaverous Dr. Ezekial Emmanuel, whose appearances on her show were majorly bad PR for the Obamacare for which these highly credentialed men were sent – and paid handsomely – out to flak.  It’s almost wrong to watch these radically physically unattractive mandarins blinded by Kelly’s looks and their own delusional inflated egos as she dissects them thoroughly, long before they realize they are slightly outmatched by what their own smear machine had told them was just a blonde FOX bimbo.

Apparently the very incisive Ms. Kelly’s shiksa charms don’t work as well on the goyim, or at least not on Donald Trump.  But she scored another exclusive last night by getting the first television interview with Charles Koch, who appeared last night on her eponymous show The Kelly File.

Although younger brother David Koch had been interviewed in recent years by Barbara Walters, Charles Koch has never done a major TV interview.

This raises two questions:  1) How will the children of leftists around the country know how to put together a monstrous KochBrothers two-headed Halloween costume if they have never seen Charles or David Koch? and 2) What took Charles Koch so long?

The Koch brothers have been major smear targets of the left in America for over a decade.  Back in 2004 the so-called “Center for Public Integrity” ran a piece entitled “The Koch’s low profile belies political power.”   In 2006 the DailyKos had a two parter on Taking Stock of the Koch Machine.  Most of these leftist attacks on the Kochs try to get juice out of how the Kochs are this unknown secret family using “dark money” to manipulate voters and the body politic.

Highly informed voters knew that the organized smear campaign against the Kochs is itself funded by dark money from the Soroses, the Steyers, the Tides Foundation, and other shadowy left-wing billionaires, and their non-profit groups, which may even accept donations from foreign entities.

But for the less informed a Koch charm offensive would have been advisable a decade ago.

So why so late?

Last night’s interview hints at an answer.  Charles Koch says he hires people based on their morals, and maybe their drive, and not their credentials or acuity.  When pressed by Kelly on whether he would turn down a job applicant who was some total killer at his or her job back in Manhattan and willing to relocate to Wichita, but who is not high on personal integrity, Charles Koch says no and goes into a list of the people who work high up in Koch Industries who are graduates of no college or of some local community college.

Now I am not one to discount drive, native intelligence, and people from fly-over country.  But Charles and David Koch themselves are brainy men with degrees from M.I.T.

If one meets people funded by the Kochs, which is easy to do around the country but especially in the Washington, D.C. area, a pattern emerges.

Near D.C. a vast number of groups are (partially) funded by, or were given start up money by, the Kochs directly or the Charles Koch Institute (itself located two subway stops outside of D.C., in Arlington, Virginia):  the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center, reason magazine, America’s Future Foundation, the Institute for Human Studies, Students for Liberty, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, I360, etc. etc.  (Rumor is that the CKI or some offshoot may eventually become a private Koch University.)

People jealous (envious?) of the Koch’s money or influence within the libertarian movement sometimes speak disparagingly of “Beltway libertarians” or “the Kochtopus.”  Long ago these were mainly people upset that their advice was not used back when David Koch was the 1980 Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate (his “baptism by fire” he told me once at an Americans for Prosperity event when I introduced myself to him as a fromer teen staffer of his 1980 campaign).  The late Murray Rothbard, a libertarian economics professor who was the bete noir of the Koch’s within the movement, eventually made a list of Koch operatives to watch out for, where I, as a college student, appear at the tail end.  Sadly I am not the recipient of any Koch largesse.

The pattern that emerges if one goes to the happy hours and lectures and other events populated by the twenty- and thirty-somethings of Beltway libertarianism is that one never meets Megyn Kelly’s Ivy League sharpy.  You meet the people Charles Koch told her he hires.

It’s not that you don’t meet the occasional University of Chicago Law School graduate at the Institute of Justice, the libertarian public interest law firm, and you will meet Harvard, Princeton, and Sorbonne PhDs at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.  You will even meet really sharp people from Georgia Institute of Technology who are brilliant IT people.

But you will also meet mainly a lot of nice and perfectly competent people from small colleges you may never have heard of.

The occasion for Charles Koch’s interview is the release of his new book, Good Profit.  It’s not clear he had to wait for a book release to speak publicly. (David Koch didn’t.)  In the past Charles Koch wrote a book, The Science of Success, on Koch’s theories of management, that is used as a text for interns and entry level staff at the Charles Koch Institute.  The earlier book was the cause of a fracas between Charles Koch and his long-serving right hand man Ed Crane, executive director of the Cato Institute. Berkeley-educated Crane, who had started out with an MBA as an investment banker, belittled that book, leading to a permanent diremption.

Currently the Koch’s are playing a long game to influence the culture, academia, and politics, toward a more small government, libertarian, classical liberal, direction.  But people like Donald Trump are having a much bigger impact on the GOP while spending much less money, in part because they are willing to appear and speak in public openly, and directly to the voter.

Did Charles Koch make a mistake by neglecting (or breaking up with) the East (and West) coast elite university sharpies Kelly asked about?  Are his current hires able to formulate strategies for him in a timely fashion?  Did one of them finally figure out that Koch speaking on behalf of his own ideas is more interesting and persuasive than many of those he has been paying to do it for him?  Here’s hoping.

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