The real news below.
This week’s guests-
The Daily Show
The Colbert Report
- Tuesday 6/17: David Boies & Theodore B. Olson
- Wednesday 6/18: Katty Kay & Claire Shipman
- Thursday 6/19: Jay Carney
If you’re a Garbage fan this won’t be the one you’re thinking about (not their best song, but the only one he got co-writing credit on). Nope, this is Daniel Schulman senior editor in the Washington bureau of Mother Jones, who is on to pitch his new book, Sons of Wichita, about the Koch brothers.
“Sons of Wichita” may strike some readers as surprisingly pro-Koch. Although Schulman leaves out no confirmable damning detail, especially about Koch Industries’ deadly indifference to environmental and safety matters, he grants Charles and David two key concessions: They have sincere political views that go beyond being just a cover for their companies’ interest in lower taxes and fewer regulations, and many of their political activities have been right out in the open, rather than lurking in the shadows. He seems to be almost in awe of Charles, the most mysterious of the brothers, who runs Koch Industries by a system he devised called Market-Based Management. Summarizing, but not dissenting from, the views of Charles’s employees, Schulman calls him “a near-mythic figure, a man of preternatural intellect and economic prowess,” adding: “He is unquestionably powerful, but unfailingly humble; elusive, but uncomplicated; cosmopolitan, yet thoroughly Kansan.” It’s noteworthy, Schulman argues, that for decades the Koch family was definitely not welcome in the Republican Party. That they came to stand for Republicanism, at least in the minds of liberals, in 2010 and 2012 is testament to their persistence, to the weakening of the traditional party structures and to their success in making libertarianism a mainstream rather than a fringe ideology. “It’s a brilliant, extraordinary accomplishment,” Schulman quotes Rob Stein of the liberal Democracy Alliance as saying about the Kochs’ rise to influence.
If Schulman winds up denying his readers the satisfaction of believing that if only two malign figures can somehow be beaten back, American conservatism would be crippled, that’s probably a good thing. Even the Tea Party movement is not entirely dependent on intravenous feeding from the Kochs or that other favorite liberal villain, Fox News. And elements of Koch-style libertarianism, connected to the interests of major donors, now live within the Democratic Party too – not just on social issues like same-sex marriage, but on economic and regulatory ones too. “Sons of Wichita” reminds us that political outcomes depend far more on ideas and organization, and the energy and persistence devoted to them, than they do on the balance of power between good guys and bad guys.
David Boies & Theodore B. Olson are the Bobbsey Twins of the Supreme Court. They just wrote a book about their victory in the Proposition 8 case, Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality, and are featured in a new HBO documentary, The Case Against 8.