Charles Koch offers partial regrets for his partisan ways

“BOY DID we screw up. What a mess!” Towards the end of his new book, Charles Koch, the billionaire owner of Koch Industries, the second-largest private firm in America, offers this surprising mea culpa. For years he gave extraordinary sums to Republican campaigns, encouraging partisan confrontation. (He and associates probably guided over $1bn in political spending in the past decade). Today he would like readers to know that he boobed. He says he picked the “wrong road”.

The wizard from Wichita is too coy to set out in detail what he, his late brother David, and their political action committee, Americans For Prosperity (AFP), were up to. Soon after the election of Barack Obama, he writes, “we started engaging directly in major party electoral politics”. They mostly funded enthusiasts for the Tea Party movement. This fostered tribalism and weakened moderate Republicans. Mr Koch now regrets that this meant most efforts at bipartisan co-operation amount to “a sick joke”. He worries, too, that such dysfunction is pushing youngsters to favour socialism.

What is behind his admission? In “Believe in People”, he claims his goal was “not to toot my own horn”. Yet he must have noted the widespread, unflattering, coverage after his brother David died last year. The 85-year-old knows his own reputation is toxic on the left, for...

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