Jim Geraghty declares Van Jones the “unlikely hero” of the Koch Network Winter Meetings. Hero, yes. Unlikely, not so much.
The Koch machine is trending left. That’s been clear for some time. According to Geraghty, who attended the meetings, its next big ticket item, now that leniency for federal felons legislation has been enacted, is an amnesty deal, including a path to citizenship for “dreamers.”
Geraghty notes that “this will put the Koch network on the same side as many Democratic lawmakers who have decried their allegedly sinister influence for many years.” Yes it will, and not for the first time. All those years of decrying the Koch Brothers seem to have paid off. They now seek a rapprochement with the left, on the left’s terms.
It’s clear what the Koch machine has done for Van Jones. It pushed through leniency legislation that conservatives have blocked in the past. But what has Jones done for the Koch machine, other than giving its leaders warm fuzzy feelings about bipartisanship and reconciliation?
Is Jones supporting any initiative that conservatives and/or the Koch machine have traditionally backed but that liberals balk at? I don’t think so.
Geraghty reports that “attendees of the [Koch] conference got to see a. . .video that featured an eyebrow-raising comment from Jones that he found himself on the other side of a lot of his usual allies like the NAACP, the ACLU, and the Congressional Black Caucus, who initially contended the [Firsts Step] bill didn’t go far enough.” (Emphasis added) Jones and Koch conned the attendees.
In reality, the Koch machine doesn’t think First Step goes far enough and neither, of course, does Jones. Koch has backed legislation that, unlike First Step, would make shorter sentences for federal drug felons retroactive, enabling already convicted drug dealers to benefit from them, not just dealers convicted in the future. It also backed a version of First Step that would have enabled fentanyl dealers to leave prison early, among other goodies for criminals that later were omitted.
There is no real distance here between Koch, Jones, and “Jones’ usual allies.” Koch and Jones simply made a tactical decision to push for less than the full jailbreak package in order to win Republican support, including the president’s. Jones’ usual allies eventually saw the wisdom in this and fell into line, as the quotation above from Geraghty shows.
To be clear, I’m not saying that Jones is conning the Koch machine. I’m saying that Jones and the Koch machine are conning conservatives.