August 29, 2010 at 7:00 PM by Dr. Drang
This column by Frank Rich in today’s New York Times has been mentioned favorably on some liberal blogs, but I don’t think much of it. First, it’s derivative of Jane Mayer’s recent article on the Koch brothers in The New Yorker. More important, it has some really tone-deaf passages.
Here’s the first:
Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government “handouts” to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics.
Spews? Why use a derisive verb to describe a company that actually makes things? That’s something of a rarity in the US today, when everyone seems to want to be in the business of buying and selling money. Sure, if the company violates pollution laws, spews is a great word for what it puts into our air and water. Or if the products it makes are junk, then spews would fit the bill. But there’s nothing wrong with Dixie Cups and Lycra, or paint and plastics.
Make no mistake: the Kochs are evil bastards. But they’re not evil because they make Dixie Cups.
The problem here isn’t just that Rich is being stupid; it’s that he’s being stupid in a way that plays into conservative stereotypes about liberals. Frank Rich is a liberal elitist who thinks he’s too good for Dixie Cups, so he bashes the Real Americans who make them.
In the next paragraph, Rich mentions the Mayer article and pushes the stereotype again:
Her article caused a stir among those in Manhattan’s liberal elite who didn’t know that David Koch, widely celebrated for his cultural philanthropy, is not merely another rich conservative Republican but the founder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which, as Mayer writes with some understatement, “has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception.”
So first he slams the “fat cats” and in the very next paragraph he reports on a “stir” among the Manhattan charity ball crowd. Darling, did you hear our David associates with those dreadful Tea Party people? Worse yet, I hear he makes Dixie Cups.
Frank Rich knows the culture wars well enough to avoid crap like this. He’s presenting liberalism as a conservative cartoon.