Eight months out from the first caucus, the Left is already developing a message about the potential Republican nominee. It will make little difference who that candidate will be which illustrates two things. First, their logic is inconsistent given the online rhetoric thus far. Second, it is obvious from the main target of that rhetoric that they probably fear this candidate more than any other at this point. Given these attacks, the rhetoric and the vitriol, it is obvious that they are most worried about Scott Walker. The attacks are sometimes indirectly achieved through attacks on the Koch brothers and Americans For Prosperity (AFP).
In mid-April, they reached a fever pitch based upon alleged remarks made by David Koch at the Empire Club- a collection of rich Republican New York donors. Besides getting this alleged endorsement wrong, several publications including the New York Times had to walk back their stories with clarifications absent apologies. Koch could not have been more clear in his statement- they were not endorsing any Republican candidate in the primaries. What he did say to some laughter is that when Scott Walker won the nomination, then they would make an endorsement. However, that is a far cry from an outright endorsement especially in light of the fact that other news outlets were simultaneously reporting that the Koch brothers were likely to support one of five potential Republican candidates. We can assume that Walker is one of the five, but he is certainly not THE ONE. You could have inserted any of the five candidates names in there.
Safe to say, Americans for Prosperity have been supporters of Scott Walker in the past. That would leave anyone to believe that they would do so in the future, and so what? Most of these accusations that Walker is a puppet of the Koch brothers stems from his initial election in 2010 and the follow-up recall effort that ended in dismal failure for Walker’s detractors. And the list of alleged sins are long and ludicrous. For example, they accuse AFP of busing thousands of Walker supporters to Madison to counteract the “grassroots” uprising against Walker’s union policies. They conveniently leave out that unions did the same thing, except they reached to out-of-state agitators who had nothing to do with Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, besides the selective amnesia on the Left, facts get in the way as they often do. First, there are the accusations that the Koch brothers donated enormous sums to Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Even the best investigative studies show that they donated at most $43,000 to the Walker effort which is half of what they donated to Andrew Cuomo’s effort that year in New York. Why the lack of an outcry? Debbie Wasserman-Schultz made the assertion that Koch money totaling $8 million was expended on the Walker election and recall efforts. Even a Leftist website like PolitiFact rated this claim totally false.
What the Left misunderstands, but tries to portray as the truth, is that Americans For Prosperity, although being set up by the Koch brothers, is not 100% bankrolled by them. AFP is active in all fifty states and they claim there are over 90,000 individual donors that contribute to the organization. When these dupes assert that the Koch brothers themselves pumped money into these elections, they are ignoring 89,998 other very real people, some who have absolutely no interest whatsoever in Wisconsin other than supporting a conservative Governor. When the best the Left can do is cite “investigative journalism” pieces by the likes of ThinkProgress and Mother Jones, they have more to worry about that Scott Walker or the Koch brothers.
The inconsistency of the Left’s logic is on display when it comes down to talking nuts and bolts. On the one hand, you have them trying to portray Walker as nothing but a puppet for the Koch brothers. To some, this means running roughshod over worker rights, raping the land for industry the environment be damned, and disenfranchising people left and right. Yet on the other hand you have these same people celebrating the fact that there appears to be a policy rift between the Koch brothers and Walker when it comes to immigration and prison reform. So which is it? Is there a rift or is he a puppet? Inquiring minds want to know. Perhaps we should get one of those investigative reporters from Mother Jones on the case.
Furthermore, if one looks at the actual statistics from previous electoral cycles, one will discover that AFP ranked 24th out of 185 major outside spenders. Liberals groups occupied nine of the top ten spots. To bemoan the donations of the Koch brothers while turning a blind eye to 23 groups ahead of Americans for Prosperity- many of them liberal- is hypocrisy at its worst.
And if the Left wants to open up this line of attack whether Walker is the nominee or not, then they do so at their own peril. With a cloud hanging over the Clinton Foundation’s acceptance of foreign donations when its co-leader was Secretary of State it is certainly more troubling that any donation made to Scott Walker. While those foreign donations were not used for electioneering, the optics of a potential quid pro quo is greater with Hillary Clinton than it is with Scott Walker despite their best attempts.
Just as the daily speeches on the floor of the Senate by [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] about the Koch brothers fell on deaf ears, one suspects a repeated barrage of unsubstantiated accusations in the context of a Scott Walker candidacy will also likely fall on deaf ears. People want to hear a vision and solutions to problems facing this country. If some of that vision and some of those solutions overlap with that of any private actor out there- Koch or otherwise- so be it.