Between kicking a friend off his golf course and showing his authoritarian hand too soon, purported president Donald Trump may have made himself and his policies a powerful opponent. NOTE: Please forgive the alliteration in the previous sentence, it was unintentional (except for the purported president part) but I’m writing too fast to go back.
Some background. The Koch brothers and the Indian Wells summit (of Richie Riches) they sponsor every year mentioned in the linked article are a main subject of Jane Mayer’s recent book, Dark Money (2015), which starts with the donor summit right after Obama’s election. At that time, the participants – and the hundreds of millions in anonymous political money they spend every year – decided on the obstructionist policy that destroyed any chance for Obama’s Presidency to be more than it was.
Dark Money has run the GOP for decades now. Some say it has run it into the ground. Among other outrages, the Kochs and Friends financed the Tea Party movement and sustain conservative so-called “think tanks” such as the American Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. The Kochs grew up with a Nazi nanny, their Dad assisted both Hitler and Stalin in developing their nation’s oil and other industries, so the whole Putin-Trump alliance for oil billions shouldn’t be foreign to them. It’s exactly the sort of arrangement with countries opposed to U.S. interests that made them rich.
But somehow they emerged in adulthood as extreme libertarians and Trump proposals such as tariffs and selective immigration bans aren’t their cup of pseudo-patriotic tea. . The Kochs recognize and Iron Heel when they see one … they grew up around talk of business buddies Hitler and Stalin, who were both like Trump once Time’s Man of the Year … so they decide that no one with close Trump ties was invited to Indian Hills this year.
We’re not talking about Koch & Friends on the side of Right. At best, they just want Trump out and Pence in. But it is, in fact, helpful for the Dark Money to be unhappy with Trump and distrustful of his actions. The opposite would be the largest amount of political money on the American scene by far in the service of what is starting to look like an attempted coup. An Iron Heel is scary enough. A well-heeled Iron Heel? Shod by Koch money? To me, at least, a whole lot scarier.
This is mostly business with David Koch and the rest. They have reached a consensus that Trump will be bad for business. That he will cost them money. And that he is too erratic and ignorant to pave a path to smooth and reliable profits in their industries. If they make more money under Trump, it will be an accident. And the Kochs of the world like sure things. Bribes to bribetakers who can counted on to deliver and not stop to tweet or get distracted.
But there is a recent personal encounter between Trump and Koch that I believe factors in. right after the election, David Koch was playing a Trump course in West Palm Beach in a foursome that included Harry Hurt, who wrote a critical biography of Trump years ago. Hurt went to congratulate Trump – hoping bygones were bygones – but a Narcissist never forgets and Trump refused to accept his congratulations and had Hurt tossed off the course. Not word if he also refunded his green fees!
Upon further reflection, I don’t think David Koch took the incident personally, although he certainly didn’t appreciate the attendant publicity. He doesn’t like any publicity that he doesn’t personally control. But he had to have lost respect for Trump, who couldn’t let an ancient insult pass even at the risk of alienating a rich and powerful ally. And Koch cannot have thought the behavior augured well for a stable and well-led Presidency.
Guys who have tantrums and toss people off golf courses … or have them drawn and quartered … tend to be autocratic. Napoleon, say, or Mussolini. Both of whom gave their nations’ businessmen a good run, but eventually came acropper.
Better, if possible, to send an Orange Emperor packing. And bet the Dark Money on Pence.