Inside the Belly of the Kochtopus*

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 27 2010 11:27 AM

Inside the Belly of the Kochtopus*

I'm at Americans for Prosperity's Defending the American Dream Summit, its fourth such annual event and its first since Jane Mayer's New Yorker profile of the Koch Industries fortune that helps this group, well, host things like the Defending the American Dream Summit. So are the Kochs cowering from the exposure? Hardly. David Koch himself is speaking at tonight's "Tribute to Ronald Reagan" Dinner, in between Siv Jensen, leader of the Norwegian Progress Party, and Tim Phillips, AFP's president and public face.

I've been to four other AFP conferences and it doesn't seem like this year's hook -- easy access to Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally -- has changed the make-up of the crowd. It's a tea party crowd, largely white (although I have yet to enter a room with an all-white crowd), fairly old, incredibly excited. Carolyn Guillot, an activist from Thousand Oaks, Ca., asked me for directions and asked where CPAC attendees had been located when they had the hotel in March. She asked if 10,000 people had been there; I said there had been, but there'd be at least 10 times that many on the mall tomorrow for Beck.

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"Oh, no!" she said, shaking her head. "There's going to be a million of us there!"

*I pause now to mark how amused I am that "Kochtopus," a word used by paleolibertarians to attack Koch-funded organizations for being too liberal, is now meant to describe a massive right-wing conspiracy.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.