Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Trump Gets Something Right

This weekend a bunch of the Republican presidential candidates flew to California to kiss the rings (and asses) of the Koch brothers and a whole bunch of other super-rich Republican donors. And Donald Trump, asshole though he may be, scorched them pretty hard on Twitter:

Of course they’re puppets. Now this is hypocritical, of course; the only reason Trump isn’t a puppet is because he is one of those billionaires who buys politicians rather than one of the politicians seeking to be bought. Replacing one with the other is hardly progress. The New York Times reports on this with this weird passage:

The answer to his question, of course, is a matter of perspective.

The candidates who made the pilgrimage to Dana Point, Calif., this weekend to address the gathering of wealthy donors were either pandering to the brothers at one of their twice-yearly seminars (beg-a-thons, in Trump parlance) or simply hoping to woo an influential network of Republicans who could help finance their campaigns through what is shaping up to be a grueling nominating process.

What would be the difference between those two “eithers,” exactly? The Kochs have made a rather public show out of refusing to support Trump, but he doesn’t need their support, at least in the primaries (the general election, on the other hand, requires at least a billion dollars to run a serious campaign and if you think Trump has a liquid billion laying around, you’ve been drinking the koolaid he’s been serving).

On Saturday, Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, and Mr. Walker addressed the gathering in back-to-back question-and-answer sessions, praising the Koch network and dismissing concerns about the outside money flooding into presidential politics. Mike Allen of the news organization Politico moderated all of the sessions. The candidates were not shy about flattering the gathered donors, some of whom are already financing their campaigns or super PACs.

“These are people who care deeply about our nation, and who are willing to put their time and their energy and their resources and their minds to the challenge of making a better nation,” Ms. Fiorina said, referring to the Koch network. “The foundation that the Koch brothers have built has invested in the power of ideas,” she said, adding “they’ve invested in lifting everyone up, regardless of their circumstances.”

In front of most audiences, such an obviously ridiculous statement would provoke howls of laughter, but since she was talking to the very people she was talking about, it only pandered to their presumptions of their own goodness. This is how people operate, they convert their own self-interests into moral crusades so they can convince themselves and others that they are really just civic-minded do-gooders out to support the public good rather than robber barons bribing people to boost their profits. I wonder what really rich ass tastes like? Fiorina just found out. So did Scott Walker:

Mr. Walker was similarly laudatory, saying he wished “the whole world could see what goes on here.”

“So many of you here aren’t here because of any interest on behalf of your personal finances or your industries, you’re here because you love America,” Mr. Walker said, before likening those in the Koch network to the everyday Americans he had met at Tea Party rallies across the country. Those people, he said, “may not have a lot of net worth, but they’re out fighting Obamacare, they’re fighting for their country.”

“In closing, let me just say what an honor it is to speak to the most generous, patriotic, and wonderful people in the country. The fact that you’re all billionaires who could fund my campaign is, of course, totally coincidental.”

One can only wait for Donald Trump to reply, “No one is more generous, patriotic and wonderful than me. I invented generous, patriotic and wonderful. My generous, patriotic and wonderful ass is gold-plated. There’s never been a bigger or classier gold-plated ass than mine.”

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