Journalism

The Frank Rich Syndrome

September 12, 2010

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Rich and his fellow Manhattan liberals regard FDR as a sacred icon, beyond reproach and rational criticism. Since the Liberty League was formed by conservative Democrats in 1934 out of disgust with FDR and for the purpose of throttling his domestic policies, the Liberty League must be evil in the mind of Rich. He does not mention the America First Committee by name, but he certainly should have. It was a kind of mirror image of the Liberty League on the foreign policy front, but did not go into action until later. It opposed the inevitable transfer of FDR’s big government ideas from the dreary home front to the august arena of foreign affairs.

FDR’s megalomania was multifaceted and far-reaching. He regarded the business of Europe and the Far East to be his own, the ultimate concern of the White House. At some point, he decided in the late 1930’s that a world war was the most logical solution for the fiasco of the New Deal and for ending the Great Depression. Think of it as the great stimulus package of its day. Fortunately, such a dishonest agenda, at least back then, was unconstitutional or extra-constitutional. With the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7th, 1941, FDR’s behind-the-scenes machinations to promote an unnecessary war became not just dishonest, but treasonous.

Thanks to Pearl Harbor, we are stuck with the Imperial Presidency, the warfare/welfare state, and the Israel Lobby. The Imperial Presidency has meant, as a practical matter, that the individual holding court in the Oval Office can do anything he pleases when it comes to foreign affairs. Anything. Rich found that out when Bush Jr. invaded Iraq. The warfare/welfare state, in conjunction with Wall Street, has bankrupted the country. Rich might agree. The Israel Lobby owns the legislature and the executive branch of the American government. Rich doesn’t dare go there. In short, if the Liberty League and the America First Committee had succeeded in checkmating FDR, Uncle Sam would not be in a jam today. It is a jam that the Tea Party seems terribly aware of, but does not fully comprehend.

(As an aside, let me suggest that Ambassador Joe Kennedy was the one man in America who had the goods on FDR in 1940 and could have averted Pearl Harbor. Upon returning from his post in London, he could have joined forces with the newly-founded America First Committee, and challenged FDR for the Democratic nomination in 1940. Win or lose, Kennedy would have exposed Roosevelt’s war-mongering mendacity to the anti-war American electorate, thereby preserving the peace in both Europe and the Far East.)

In his Tea Party article, Rich sets up the amazingly successful Koch brothers from the Midwest. David and Charles Koch are industrialists purportedly bankrolling the Tea Party. Rich is fit to be tied. Why are they doing this? Are they crazy? Rich proclaims the brothers are doing it because they are “self-interested”—they are “fat cats” who hate taxes and regulation. That makes them unique? Are the rest of us suppose to love taxes and regulation? Rich further proclaims, “The Koch brothers must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests.” This is deplorable tripe.

We learn that the quixotic David Koch ran for Vice President of the United States on the Libertarian ticket in 1980. Is that a crime? Apparently, it is. David Koch ran for Vice President, according to Frank Rich, because Koch wanted to abolish “any government enterprise that would either inhibit his business profits or increase his taxes.” Oh dear. Rich gets most of his material from Jane Mayer’s lengthy article in the New Yorker of August 30, entitled “Covert Operations”. Like Rich’s effort, it is a hatchet job. Over this past weekend, Elaine Lafferty came to David Koch’s defense in The Dail y Beast. In an exclusive interview with the man himself, she produces a kind of puff piece entitled “Tea Party Billionaire Fires Back”. Koch gives his side of the story. By far the most balanced and informative article on David Koch is that by Andrew Goldman in New York magazine of July 25, entitled “The Billionaire’s Party.” 

Contra Rich and Mayer, it seems more credible to me, after reading Goldman’s piece, that David Koch was/is simply an idealist and a concerned citizen who wants to give back something to his country. The fact that he is a billionaire means that he can, without having to get involved in the details. He does not have time for public service anymore, so he bankrolls others who do. What is the problem? Concurrently, he has given many millions to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, the American Museum of Natural History, John Hopkins, Sloan-Kettering, and to his alma mater, MIT.

Whatever the motivation, David and Charles Koch have plenty of spare cash, and they are entitled to spend it as they please. David Koch is not coy. According to Goldman, “Koch concedes that he sympathizes with the tea party. ‘It demonstrates a powerful visceral hostility in the body politic against the massive increase in government power, the massive efforts to socialize this country, which goes against the conservative grain of the average American.’” Who can disagree with that?

Equally entitled are plutocrats George Soros and Rupert Murdoch, whom Rich mentions in passing. An import from Australia, Murdoch has made a fortune out of promoting the Neocon agenda in Washington and in flag-waving its idiotic, ruinous foreign wars. Like Rush Limbaugh and frauds of lesser luminosity, Murdoch is a profiteer capitalizing on Americans’ misguided patriotism and gullibility. The ramifications are endless. The Tea Party itself may ironically be one such ramification, should it become a cheerleader for war and a front for the Christian Zionists, which development appears to be underway.

Incidentally, does Frank Rich think that George Soros, the self-made billionaire speculator from Hungary, bankrolls various Left-wing causes because Soros wants to put politicians in office who will raise his tax bill? That would be a logical deduction, if Rich actually believes, as he states, that the Koch brothers are bankrolling the Right in order to cut their taxes. Needless to say, Rich is chasing his tail on this one, and it is fun to watch. 

He attempts to get his fellow Lefty, the cerebral Mr. Soros, off the hook somewhat by proclaiming that this esteemed financier is “a publicity hound” who “supports causes that are unrelated to his business interests….” Oh sure. George Soros is probably motivated by the same honest idealism that motivates the Koch brothers. He is just headed in the opposite direction. Soros and Koch embrace a different political agenda, and inhabit divergent universes. Like the rest of us. Live and let live. As I am wont to tell anyone who will listen, there is no Left or Right. There is only right and wrong. That is what counts. We need to get down to brass tacks, to coin another phrase.

 

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