Sucking Up to the Kochs

There was another event this weekend featuring probable 2016 Republican presidential candidates, one held by the shadowy but immensely powerful Koch Donor Network in Palm Springs These are “private events” that don’t get much media coverage, so there has been no account published so far of Scott Walker’s appearance (though it’s very well know that Walker is an important investment property for the Brothers Koch).

But Bloomberg Politics’ Julie Bykowicz managed to cover a panel on which Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio appeared, and made two observations worth repeating. First:

On display was Paul’s nontraditional approach to defense spending and foreign policy. Seated between two colleagues whose fathers fled Cuba, the junior senator from Kentucky alone made the argument that Obama’s outreach to the country was worth a try. Paul also called it problematic for Congress to authorize new sanctions against Iran in the middle of international nuclear negotiations—a view neither Cruz nor Rubio shared. Cruz, in fact, said it’s worth remembering that the leaders of Iran are “radical religious Islamic nutcases, and that is the technical term.”

This is a reminder that the recent shift in attention from IS and Syria to Cuba and Iran has threatened Rand Paul’s previously very successful re-positioning into the GOP “mainstream” on foreign policy. He’s looking pretty lonely on Cuba and especially Iran, a situation that’s not likely to get much better in the runup to Bibi Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress next month.

Second, here’s Bykowicz’s judgment on a very important metric for such events:

[T]he kiss-up award went to Cruz, who said he deeply admires the Koch brothers, who have had to endure “grotesque” vilification by Democrats. The men and women at the Koch summit, he said, are “patriots who love this country.”

Poor little rich boys.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.