The Democrats’ Koch psychosis
Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent writes approvingly of the latest big-bucks Democrat Senate Majority PAC ad campaign in Louisiana, which once again targets the Left’s favorite boogeymen, the Koch Brothers:
As I noted the other day, this is all about creating a framework within which voters can be made to understand the actual policy agenda Republicans are campaigning on. This is what the Bain attacks on Mitt Romney were all about: Dem focus groups showed voters simply didn’t believe Romney would cut entitlements (per the Paul Ryan plan) while cutting taxes on the rich. The Bain narrative made Romney’s actual priorities more comprehensible.
The Koch attacks are designed to do something similar. They aren’t really about the Kochs. They are a proxy for the one percent, a means through which to tap into a general sense that the economy remains rigged in favor of the very wealthy. Placed into this frame, GOP policies – opposition to raising the minimum wage; the Paul Ryan fiscal blueprint, which would redistribute wealth upwards; opposition to the Medicaid expansion, which AFP is fighting in multiple states – become more comprehensible as part of a broader storyline. In that narrative, Republican candidates are trying to maintain or even exacerbate an economic status quo that’s stacked against ordinary Americans, while Dems are offering solutions to boost economic mobility and reduce inequality, which are increasingly pressing public concerns.
Just one problem: this Democrat ad was torn to shreds by Glenn Kessler, the fact-checker at the very same Washington Post. The maximum-BS rating of four Pinocchios was deployed, with Kessler concluding it “not only mischaracterizes an ordinary tax deduction as a special ‘tax cut’ but then it falsely asserts that ‘protecting’ this tax break is part of the Koch agenda. It turns out this claim is based on a tenuous link to an organization that never even took a position on the legislation in question.”
Well, that’s a bit awkward, but not a complete inconsistency. Sargent’s praise doesn’t depend on the accuracy or logic of the ad, but rather its symbolic value in bamboozling voters. It’s pure Alinsky tactics, personalizing and demonizing an issue, the same way he applauds Obama’s team for using Bain Capital in 2012. Sure, Obama and his people stink at governing, but they’re great at creating disingenuous advertising campaigns to turn law-abiding American citizens into monsters for political puppet shows.
You’re not supposed to think about left-wing billionaires like George Soros, Solyndra kingpin George Kaiser, the Democrats’ new fat-cat environmental guru Tom Steyer, or what their “actual priorities” might be. You’re not supposed to notice that “income inequality,” to the extent such a subjective concept can be measured at all, has gotten worse under Barack Obama, or that Wall Street interests seem very happy with all the lettuce he’s been tossing their way.
Democrats regard their voters as very simple people who can be controlled using Manichean narratives about evil Republican rich guys, scribbled in crayon. Never mind how ObamaCare is destroying actual American lives – get pumped about some nebulous conspiracy theories involving the wrong kind of billionaire! Don’t complain about Democrat policies causing the engine of American job creation to seize up, thwarting the aspirations of millions – enjoy this phony narrative about Republican candidates trying to rob the poor and give to the rich!
Of course, this is all about more than just one ad, or even one race. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has spent an outrageous amount of time railing against the Koch Brothers from the floor of the Senate, because it lets him spew kooky theories and manufactured slander without having to worry about getting sued. When David Koch donated $100 million to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital to build a new wing, a mob of crazed lefty activists showed up to protest.
Koch psychosis is useful for Democrat fundraising efforts – the irony of middle-class fundraising targets giving up hard-earned money to help millionaire politicians wage perpetual war against law-abiding millionaire businessmen apparently being lost on Democrat donors. It also serves as a useful shot across the bow to other potential high-profile Republican donors, who might not relish receiving the “Koch treatment.”
And it is indeed part of a strategy for making “symbolic” arguments, if by symbolic you mean “thoughtless.” The goal is to program the Democrat faithful with knee-jerk code words that can make campaign money flow and shoes hit the pavement upon command. It probably won’t work this time, because the problems facing them in 2014 are too big to obscure by screaming about the Koch Brothers. It might even backfire, as voters look upon Reid’s antics and wonder why government officials are spending so much energy attacking people who haven’t broken any laws. You’ve been donating time and money to politicians who vowed to battle the evil tentacles of the Koch kraken for years, Democrat voters. What have all their “symbolic arguments” gotten you except a stalled economy, a collapsing workforce, and canceled insurance policies?