Yet despite all these momentous events swirling around his wood-paneled Wichita office, decorated with seascapes and looking out on to the prairie to the north, the legacy he wishes to initially address comes via a piece of paper with a color photograph of his first grandson. The baby’s name: Charles. “My proudest accomplishment,” he smiles.
Given that he and his brother have been called “pigs” (by MSNBC host Chris Matthews) and protesters have unfurled “Koch Kills” banners at rallies, Charles clearly wants to use this rare interview to humanize himself, attaching some personal substance to his courtly Midwest manner. Yet this grandfatherly presence, framed by an unbuttoned collared shirt and a toothy grin, is at odds with the business and political juggernaut that he and his younger brother David have built in a systematic process befitting their MIT training.
Charles’ many critics on the left–including the President of the United States–accuse him of accumulating too much power and using it to promote his own economic interests through a network of secretive organizations they call the “Kochtopus.” Ironically, the Koch brothers believe they’re fighting against power, at least in the political realm. For the Kochs the real power is central government, which can tax entire industries into oblivion, force a citizen to buy health insurance and bring mighty corporations like Koch Industries to heel.
“Most power is power to coerce somebody,” says Charles, in a voice that sounds like Jimmy Stewart with a Kansas twang. “We don’t have the power to coerce anybody.”
The November elections–which David, in a separate interview shortly after the results were finalized, termed “bitterly disappointing,” …