A Koch and a smile

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 Drs. Jonathan Gruber and  Ezekial Emmanuel, whose appearances on her show were  bad PR for the Obamacare for which these highly credentialed men were sent out – and paid handsomely –  to flak.  It’s almost wrong to watch these mandarins blinded by Kelly’s looks and their own  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.

She scored another exclusive last week by getting the first television interview with Charles Koch, who appeared on her eponymous show The Kelly File.

{mosads}Although younger brother David Koch had been interviewed by Barbara Walters, Charles Koch has never done a major TV interview.

This raises two questions:  1) How will left-of-center children around the country know how to put together a two headed KochBrothers two-headed Halloween costume if they have never seen a 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 attacks on the Kochs get juice out of how the Kochs are a secret family using “dark money” to manipulate the body politic.

Informed voters knew that the campaign against the Kochs is itself funded by the Soroses, the Steyers, the Tides Foundation, and other shadowy billionaires, and their non-profit groups, even accepting 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 week’s interview hints at an answer.  Charles Koch says he hires people based on their morals and 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-based Koch Industries, 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 some local community college.

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 it is easy to do in the Washington, D.C. area, a pattern emerges.

Near D.C. a number of groups are (partially) funded by, or were given start up money by the Kochs or by the Charles Koch Institute (itself located near D.C., in Arlington, Virginia):  the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center, reason magazine, America’s Future Foundation, the Institute for Humane Studies, Students for Liberty, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, I360, etc. 

Libertarians jealous of the Koch’s  influence within the movement used to disparage “Beltway libertarians” or “the Kochtopus.”  Long ago these were people upset that their advice was not used when David Koch was the 1980 Libertarian Party VP candidate (his “baptism by fire” he told me once at an event).

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 for Justice, the libertarian public interest law firm, or Harvard, Princeton, and Sorbonne PhDs at the Mercatus Center.

But you will also meet mainly a lot of nice and perfectly competent people from mainly unknown small colleges who have come to D.C. to take jobs as KIPS and KAPS, the Koch internship and associates programs.

The occasion for Charles Koch’s interview is the release of his new book, Good Profit.  (David Koch went public without a book with Barbara Walters without a book.)  Charles Koch previous book, on his theories of management,  is a text for his interns and entry level staff.  That book was the cause of a fracas between Koch and his 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, classical liberal, direction.  But people like Donald Trump are having a much bigger impact on the GOP and the election while spending much less money, in part because they are willing to appear and speak in public openly, and directly to the voter.

Did Koch make a mistake by neglecting the elite university sharpies?  Are his current hires able to formulate PR strategies?  Did one of them finally figure out that Koch speaking on behalf of his own ideas is more persuasive than paying others to do it for him?

Here’s hoping.

Majors writes freelance, mainly for The Daily Caller and Breitbart, but also reason, the LA Times, the American Spectator and venues.   He is more or less a life long libertarian.

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