Trump hurts self in fight with Koch net­work

Edmonton Sun - - COMMENT - ed ROGERS Rogers is a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant and a vet­eran of the Ron­ald Rea­gan and Ge­orge H.W. Bush White Houses. This col­umn first ap­peared in The Wash­ing­ton Post

The pres­i­dent has an­other op­por­tu­nity to be mag­nan­i­mous, show him­self to be the big­ger man and to take a pass on fu­el­ing a fight with fel­low Repub­li­cans. OK, that won’t hap­pen. But it doesn’t mean the Trump-koch dis­pute that flared in re­cent days should be ig­nored.

I’ve never worked with the Koch or­ga­ni­za­tion, but they are an im­por­tant re­source for Repub­li­cans.

You can ar­gue about whether they should have done this or that or funded this or that pro­gram, but with­out ques­tion, Charles and David Koch have been a huge net plus for the Repub­li­can Party and the con­ser­va­tive cause.

It is un­de­ni­able that the work they do cre­ates more al­lies for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Congress and in state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

But rather than nur­ture this as­set, Trump is an­tag­o­niz­ing the very peo­ple who can help Repub­li­cans in 2018 and 2020.

I can’t say ex­actly how the Venn di­a­gram would look, but I sus­pect Trump and the Koch broth­ers over­lap on about 90 per­cent of the is­sues they both care about.

As pres­i­dent, Trump is the leader of the Repub­li­can Party. As such, he is sup­posed to be the stew­ard of the Repub­li­can coali­tion in Amer­ica.

He can’t rely just on his piece of the coali­tion to win the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, let alone the up­com­ing midterms. It wasn’t just a nar­row slice of Trump­kin vot­ers who pro­duced his up­set vic­tory in 2016.

Team Trump would be wise to re­mem­ber the words of my old boss, Lee At­wa­ter, that the Repub­li­can Party is a “big tent.”

There are plenty of Repub­li­cans who are pro-choice, pro-free trade and pro-gay rights and who think the United States could stand to re­duce its mil­i­tary foot­print abroad and be more ag­gres­sive about cut­ting deficits. Trump re­ceived much of their sup­port in 2016. The GOP can’t aban­don those vot­ers in 2018, and Trump will need them in 2020 to have any chance at re-elec­tion.

Maybe Trump is re­sent­ful at some level of the Koch broth­ers’ suc­cesses. Or maybe he has a chip on his shoul­der be­cause they’ve been out­spo­ken at times about his de­meanor. Or maybe it is all about trade pol­icy.

But as the Wall Street Jour­nal ed­i­to­rial board aptly put it Wed­nes­day, “Pro-growth cuts in tax rates, dereg­u­la­tion and orig­i­nal­ist judges have been the most suc­cess­ful parts of the Trump agenda. And they were Koch be­liefs when Mr. Trump was still do­nat­ing to Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton.” That may not be what the pres­i­dent wants to hear, but it is the truth.

With that said, the Trumpkoch feud hasn’t es­ca­lated to a point be­yond re­pair. And thank­fully Trump’s bark when di­rected at Repub­li­cans of­ten doesn’t go any fur­ther. Just ask Sens. Bob Corker, R-tenn., Mitch Mcconnell , R-KY., or Marc Ru­bio, R-fla.

Once again, Repub­li­cans are do­ing what the Democrats want us to do.

I’m sure the Democrats are de­lighted at the idea that the source of sev­eral hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars for Repub­li­cans is be­ing ha­rassed and hounded by the in­cum­bent Repub­li­can ma­chin­ery.

I know it’s not fash­ion­able in the Repub­li­can Party to­day, but it is worth re­peat­ing: Pol­i­tics is all about ad­di­tion, not sub­trac­tion. If the Koch or­ga­ni­za­tion is alien­ated, that sub­tracts money and peo­ple.

Even if the pres­i­dent doesn’t want to do the right thing, he would be well served by do­ing the self­ish thing and keep­ing the Repub­li­can big tent as big as it was when he got elected.

David Koch

Don­ald trump

Charles Koch

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