On Feb. 26, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor and declared that billionaire Republican businessmen Charles and David Koch were “un-American.” He’s barely been able to stop talking about the “Koch brothers” ever since.
On March 4, Reid declared that Senate Republicans were “addicted to Koch.” On March 13, Reid mentioned the “Koch brothers” in a floor speech 25 times. This week, he said Republicans should wear Koch insignia on their suits — like NASCAR drivers.
It’s all part of Reid and the Democrats’ calculated efforts to summon a suitable villain in 2014. Reid believes that the Kochs, the financiers at the center of a nationwide GOP network that is spending millions of dollars on campaign ads against Democrats, are the perfect foil.
The good folks at the Sunlight Foundation have created a tool, CapitolWords, to show just how much Reid and his fellow Democrats are pushing the “Koch brothers” message.
The “Koch brothers” — who run Koch Industries, the Kansas-based firm that Forbes ranks as the second-largest private company in the United States — went unmentioned on the House and Senate floors between February 1998 and December 2010.
But in March 2014, their names were called out 79 times — and no one cited them more than Reid. Already, the Koch brothers have been name-dropped 38 times in April.
“They may believe that whoever has the most money gets the most free speech,” Reid declared in mid-March. “That is wrong, it is unfair, and it is untrue. I will do whatever it takes to expose their campaign, their campaign to rig the American political system to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”
The volume of the Democrats’ Koch brothers messaging is cranked so high that its rise rivals congressional mentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, even amid the incursion into Crimea and the international standoff over Ukraine. In fact, so far in April, Sunlight’s data show that “Koch brothers” has been said more than “Vladimir Putin.”
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
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