The “Kochtopus,” as described in Jane Meyer’s classic 2010 New Yorker takedown, is always at the ready to pick up its anti-Obama campaign with aims of “drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry.” Translation: anything that that will sell more Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups and Stainmaster carpets at a higher profit without environment laws or bothersome trade-union interference.
Now the Brothers are expressing solicitude in TV ads aimed at women over how Obamacare will damage their family’s health as they struggle, in some cases successfully, to overcome the glitches and sign on.
In this week of JFK remembrance, Kennedy’s warning in 1961 “discordant voices of extremism” seems particularly apt:
“Men who are unwilling to face up to the danger from without are convinced that the real danger comes from within. They look suspiciously at their neighbors and their leaders. They call for a 'man on horseback' because they do not trust the people. They find treason in our finest churches, in our highest court, and even in the treatment of our water. They equate the Democratic Party with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism, and socialism with communism...
“But you and I and most Americans take a different view of our peril. We know that it comes from without, not within. It must be met by quiet preparedness, not provocative speeches...
“So let us not heed these counsels of fear and suspicion. Let us concentrate more on keeping enemy bombers and missiles away from our shores, and concentrate less on keeping neighbors away from our shelters. Let us devote more energy to organize the free and friendly nations of the world, with common trade and strategic goals, and devote less energy to organizing armed bands of civilian guerrillas that are more likely to supply local vigilantes than national vigilance.”
The Koch brothers weren’t around back then, but their father was already at work undermining American democracy as a founding member of the John Birch Society, which was rightly seen as a crackpot expression of right-wing extremism by William F. Buckley.
His heirs are carrying on the family tradition half a century later, but that’s no cause for celebration.