THE STUMP NOVEMBER 4, 2011
Okay, we've been puzzling a little while now over the new Herman Cain quote to beat all Herman Cain quotes: “I am the Koch brothers’ brother from another mother...And proud of it.”
We imagine this was meant to be taken figuratively, as a remarkably forthright acknowledgment of what so many other Tea Party-affiliated Republicans are loath to admit, that they are backed in a big way by the deep-pocketed, arch-conservative brothers from Kansas. Cain may have realized that it was hard to pretend otherwise, given that his chain-smoking campaign manager got his start working for the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity in Wisconsin, and that there are signs that his own campaign has rule-bending financial ties to AFP.
But with Cain, it's never safe to assume the language is figurative (remember the electric fence for immigrants?) So, on the off chance that he's speaking literally, I did some research on the genealogical claim. If Cain is serious, then this, and not Luther Cain, former chauffeur to the CEO of Coca-Cola, is his true father (i.e., Koch not Coke, get it?). Which would explain a lot, because Fred Koch was, as Jane Mayer described, quite a character:
Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries. Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration. He returned to the U.S. In the headquarters of his company, Rock Island Oil & Refining, in Wichita, he kept photographs aimed at proving that some of those Soviet refineries had been destroyed in the Second World War. Gus diZerega, a former friend of Charles Koch, recalled, “As the Soviets became a stronger military power, Fred felt a certain amount of guilt at having helped build them up. I think it bothered him a lot.”
n 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”
If you've got this in your genes, then demanding that Muslims swear a loyalty oath to the United States to be eligible for public office starts to make a lot more sense.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons