In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, conservative Charles Koch said, Sunday, “it’s possible” that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton may make a better president than the men remaining on the GOP primary ticket. Charles Koch is one half of the Koch brothers, the shadowy conservative bogeymen feared by American liberals from San Francisco to Greenwich Village.
For years, the Koch brothers have been paraded in effigy in liberal circles and held up as the walking emblems of GOP corruption. To liberals, the brothers have been marked as the personifications of every -ism in the book; sexism, racism, fundamentalism --- you name it.
“For the American left, the philanthropy of billionaires Charles and David Koch approaches an obsession,” writes US News & World Report’s Peter Roff. “There is no cause they have touched, no effort they have mounted that is not – according to the clack of liberal journalists and bloggers who populate the Internet – somehow tainted by their association with it.” The obsession has spilled over into full-blown paranoia. Roff continues:
"It’s no longer just their political giving that attracts attention. Liberal activists have taken to the streets to protest Koch support for museums, for the theater and the performing arts, for medical research and for just about any other cause to which the brothers – together or individually – choose to donate a share of their considerable wealth."
The Koch brothers are to liberals what George Soros is to conservatives. There’s no doubt that the billionaire brothers are major players on K Street. They have donated to a variety of conservative causes, donating huge sums of money to Republican congressional candidates.
All of this makes Koch’s comments that much more groundbreaking. Koch explained his apparent preference for Hillary by suggesting that previous Republicans have not been committed to the conservative lobbyist’s chief concern: shrinking the size of the federal government. "In other ways, I mean [Bill Clinton] wasn't an exemplar. But as far as the growth of government, the increase in spending," Koch said on Sunday. "It was 2.5 times [more] under Bush than it was under Clinton."
Koch even implied that Hillary’s lurch to the Left during the primary season may not be entirely representative of her actual views. "We would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric. Let me put it that way," he muttered with a wink and a nod. From free trade to national security, Hillary has indeed changed her tune in an attempt to pander to the liberal base. There’s no question that insurgent candidate Bernie Sanders has forced her to move left of her comfort zone. Koch’s theory is therefore not entirely misguided. There’s reason to believe that she will recalibrate her policies during the general election to appeal to moderate and independent voters.
Yet, Hillary wasn’t too pleased with Koch’s conditional endorsement. Hillary’s reaction isn’t surprising given how much she herself as chided the Koch brothers for their lobbying efforts. Here’s what the Democratic front-runner tweeted shortly after the interview:
Not interested in endorsements from people who deny climate science and try to make it harder for people to vote. https://t.co/TWN4zYhMBh— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 24, 2016
This isn’t the first time the Kochs have evaded simple labels. Liberal activists are keen trying to place a square peg into a round hole. The more the Left tries to pigeonhole the Koch brothers into an ideological corner, the more the siblings resist caricatures.
According to US News & World Report, Koch Industries made a “generous grant to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers” (NACDL) in 2014 “to support its work in of the Sixth Amendment guarantee of right to counsel or, as devotees of cop shows might better recognize it, the part of the Miranda warnings read to everyone placed under arrest that they have the right to an attorney, to have the attorney present during questioning and to have an attorney provided for them free of charge if they can't afford it….It’s going to be interesting to see how the Koch haters out there try and spin this one.”
Although criminal justice reform is usually thought to be a policy concern of the Left, the Koch brother’s contributions to NACDL and other related causes have gone largely unnoticed by both liberals and conservatives.
This time, Charles Koch’s latest act of defiance against ideological orthodoxy will likely draw the ire of both the Left and the Right.
ABC’s full interview with Charles Koch is posted below: