We have officially reached the point in which Republican presidential candidates no longer even put up the pretense of being concerned about big money in campaigns. Nowadays they're just gleefully carving up the dying whale of American politics for special interests while assuring us they're not just going to leave the carcass rotting on the beach.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a man who insists that he is capable of leading the United States, just penned an entry for the Koch Brothers in TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2014 list that might more aptly be described as a love-letter/pitiful plea for campaign funds:
Charles and David Koch are well known for their business success, their generous philanthropic efforts and for their focus on innovation in management. Some also know them for their activism in the political realm. All of these are important contributions to society. What is underappreciated is their passion for freedom and their commitment to ideas. Unlike many crony capitalists who troll the halls of Congress looking for favors, the Kochs have consistently lobbied against special-interest politics.
For decades they have funded institutes that promote ideas, not politics, such as Cato and the Mercatus Center. They have always stood for freedom, equality and opportunity. Consistent with their love of liberty, they have become prominent advocates for criminal-justice reform. The Koch brothers’ investment in freedom-loving think tanks will carry on for generations, reminding all of us that ideas and convictions ultimately trump all else.
I can't for the life of me understand why TIME would allow this obvious conflict of interest to go unscrutinized. Just for the sake of putting it out there, the Koch brothers plan on spending about $900 million promoting the eventual Republican candidate for president. As someone who has always been against "big government" and leaned heavily towards the Kochs' libertarian agenda, Paul no doubt is hoping to slice a big piece out of that fat money pie.
Paul's write-up isn't just shameless flattery. It's practically worthy of a disgusting sexual metaphor. (Think of your own sloppy comparison.) The senator in particular has good reason to stroke the Kochs' quivering egos right now, because he recently bombed a Koch-organized political gathering earlier this year. Politico reported that Paul "drew skepticism among some donors by touting tax breaks as a means of spurring economic growth in blighted inner cities," which apparently is a big no-no among the job-creating crowd. He also "opposed eliminating tax benefits to the oil and gas industry." Paul probably thought that stance would please the Kochs and get him a little closer to their energy industry profit-stuffed wallets, but apparently he didn't do his research because the Kochs oppose the breaks from an ideological standpoint
At the meeting, Paul gave what Politico described as "rambling answers that contrasted sharply with other participants," which I'm pretty sure is a polite Beltway euphemism for "crazy fool double-drunk on his pappy's moonshine." In another bad omen, the National Journaladded that Paul got a "silent reception to his divergent views." Given how poorly Paul is performing out of the gate, this editorial looks more than a little desperate.
Everything else in Paul's column, by the way, is an outright lie. Take the Cato Institute for example. Paul describes the Kochs' involvement with the institute as promoting "ideas, not politics" and as an "investment in freedom-loving think tanks." So it's rather curious that the Kochs had to seize control of Cato from its previous owners in an acrimonious lawsuit which then-Cato president Ed Crane described as an effort to "transform Cato from an independent, nonpartisan research organization into a political entity that might better support his partisan agenda."
The New Yorkerdescribed his replacement, banker John Allison, as someone who appeared to "almost completely share the Koch vision." The Koch takeover was intentionally designed to drive the Cato Institute away from promoting libertarian ideas and drive it in the direction of the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, both of which mainly focus on promoting a conservative economic agenda that benefits their betters.
For people who aren't "crony capitalists," according to Paul, the Kochs are similarly eager to aggressively lobby for tax breaks and special treatment. Koch Industries spends tens of millions trying to extract concessions from the government. It benefits extensively from subsidies, eminent domain, and close relationships with D.C. insiders (like the Bush Administration). The Kochs are also linked to hundreds of millions of dollars in dark-horse political spending, distributing their own money and bundled donations from other plutocrats via a mystifying web of super PACs and shell corporations designed to mask who the money is coming from and where it's going.
It's not very presidential of Paul to beg so shamelessly and so publicly for good favor from two of his biggest potential donors. But it's even less presidential for him to lie to the American public while doing it. He's a candidate for president, not Koch public relations.
Count this as yet another great reason why Paul will never be president. But so long as we're on the subject, what the hell is going on over at TIME? I've long since grown used to very low expectations where that magazine is concerned, but this is still a curious new low for a rag that has long since devolved into a toxic mash of meaningless fluff, pageview-chasing and clueless business strategy.
No wonder it's dying.