If It Is a Day Whose Name Ends with the Letter “Y,” then It Is Time for Jane Mayer to Rail about the Koch Brothers

Koch Brothers

The latest manifestation of Jane Mayer’s Ahabesque quest to label the Koch brothers as pure evil comes in this article, in which Mayer solemnly intones about the dangers of having Mike Pence as president, and states that said dangers mainly revolve around Pence being an alleged tool of the Koch brothers. To be sure, I think that Pence is appalling, and would–at best–make a mediocre president. I would never vote for him. I had hoped that he would be one of the legendary “adults in the room,” and act as a brake on Donald Trump’s worst ambitions, but that hope has clearly proven to be profoundly misplaced. There are certain exceedingly select people in the Trump administration–Jim Mattis being the best among them–who have managed to serve without annihilating their souls or their honor. Pence is not one of them, as his odious recent conduct regarding the propriety of athletes kneeling in protest during the rendition of the national anthem at sports events, makes clear. If Mike Pence ever succeeded to the presidency in the aftermath of a Trump resignation, or in the aftermath of impeachment and conviction, then I would look forward eagerly to the day when I could vote him out of office once election season comes around, and once Pence seeks to be elected to the presidency in his own right.

And yet, if a genie came to me and told me that it would give America a Trump impeachment and conviction/resignation and a Pence presidency if I wished for it, I would happily accept the proposition, and I would accept it every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

First of all, if one believes Mayer, Pence is a powerful and influential vice president who is apparently able to get all kinds of Koch-associated people appointed to positions in the Trump administration. As such, it is more than a little bizarre for people like Mayer to warn and complain of the coming Kochtopus in a Pence administration when Mayer simultaneously seeks to convince us that the Kochtopus is already in power thanks to Pence and his influence. The only difference between the current state of affairs and an actual Pence presidency is that Donald Trump is president, which means that in addition to the Kochtopus, we also have extreme populist nationalist racists like Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller prominent in our national society, along with the alt-right, which has proven to be a more destructive force in American politics than the Koch brothers could ever hope to be. Also, we have a situation in which Donald Trump can launch nuclear weapons.

Regarding that last issue, and the apocalyptic dangers it quite obviously poses for humankind, Mayer is positively ridiculous:

Many Americans have debated whether the country would be better off with Pence as President. From a purely partisan viewpoint, Harold Ickes, a longtime Democratic operative, argues that—putting aside the fear that Trump might start a nuclear war—“Democrats should hope Trump stays in office,” because he makes a better foil, and because Pence might work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. . . .

(Emphasis mine.) “[P]utting aside the fear that Trump might start a nuclear war” is a rather tall order, given the fact that “the fear that Trump might start a nuclear war” is a very big fear! I daresay that it is an even bigger fear than “Pence might work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda.” I mean, if you, dear reader, are not a member of “the far right,” then I can surely understand why you would not want their “agenda” to be “advanced,” but you still have to admit that “advancing the far right’s agenda,” objectionable though it may be, is far better than “having yourself and your loved ones either annihilated by a nuclear conflagration whose initial mushroom cloud-producing blasts end most life on the planet, or irradiated and left to die a horrible, lingering death in the resulting nuclear winter after a nuclear conflagration whose initial mushroom-cloud producing blasts end most life on the planet.” Maybe that’s just me, but I would actually imagine that I am not the only one who thinks this.

Look, if you don’t like Mike Pence, then I guess that I am not going to convince you that you should like him. Indeed, I’m not trying to convince you that you should like him, let alone trying to convince you that he is the most recent incarnation of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. I most certainly don’t believe that he is–far from it. But at least Mike Pence won’t sell out our country to the Russians, won’t leave our NATO allies hanging and in peril, won’t destroy a post-World War II free trade system and international order that massively enriches and empowers the United States and brings prosperity and relative peace to the rest of the world, and won’t blow the planet to smithereens in a fit of pique. I can’t believe that I actually have to write this, but all of that is worth something, even if one has to get the Koch brothers in the bargain . . . which, again, one is getting anyway right now, if one believes Jane Mayer.

(Cross-posted.)