Kathleen Parker: Reid needs to apologize to the Koch brothers
04/07/2014 5:49 PM
04/07/2014 5:49 PM
Rush Limbaugh can relax. The popular “demon of the right” has been replaced at least through the midterms by the Koch brothers, Charles and David.
The libertarian billionaires are spending gobs of their own money to sway politics toward free-market principles and away from current government expansionist trends. For this, they have been targeted by Democrats, who are not exactly penniless when it comes to advancing their own politicians and policies. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., broke down all barriers to protocol recently when he called the Kochs “un-American.”
Charles Koch, in a commentary in the Wall Street Journal, responded by calling Democrats “collectivists.”
“Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents,” Koch wrote. “They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society – and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.”
Billionaires – ya gotta love ’em. But they’re so much easier to hate.
Thus, Democrats are trying to make the Koch brothers the new face of the Republican Party.
The doubling down on the Kochs has been in play for some months, advanced by frequent mentions among liberal commentators. But Reid’s McCarthyesque name-calling took hell to the devil. It was not only cringe-inducing but also profoundly sad. One would hope the leader of the Senate Democrats might have better rhetorical devices at his intellectual disposal.
Reid suffers no remorse and fired back that he was delighted if people now knew who those un-Americans are. The more who despise the Kochs, the better. The Kochs aren’t just leaders of the Republican Party, as Democrats are proposing; they are the face of the Haves.
This is really the heart of the Democratic proposition. As the midterm elections take shape around the debate about income inequality, the Kochs personify the uncaring-est of the 1-percenters.
One needn’t support the Koch brothers’ preference for unfettered markets or their willingness to fund positions that might favor them. Plenty of conservatives disagree with their support for tea party insurgents and their climate-change skepticism.
Allowing the super-wealthy to disproportionately influence political outcomes may indeed be bad for the democratic process – and that’s of legitimate concern to all. But one’s eyes should be wide open when people are singled out as un-American.
What’s next? A Senate committee investigating such un-American activities as advocating free-market principles or pursuing capitalist endeavors?
Of course, I’m kidding. That could never happen here, except it sort of already has. When Reid called the Kochs un-American, a powerful government official fired a shot across the bow of two private citizens who have acted within the law while contributing wealth to the economy through employment.
Yes, it was bad when right-wingers called Obama un-American, but Obama is the most powerful man in the world and the rabble is just that. Reid owes the Kochs – and the American people – an apology.