The Koch Brothers Show Their Human Side

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After Democrats won the White House in 2012 despite enormous amounts of spending by conservatives, the Koch brothers commissioned a study. It concluded that their efforts had been hampered “by the widespread perception that conservatives don’t care about the plight of regular folks struggling to make ends meet ? let alone the underprivileged.”

Where would people get that idea? In any case, apparently the Kochs became obsessed with the “empathy gap,” a poll result showing that Mitt Romney did abysmally on the question of whether he “cares about people like me.” So they launched the Well-Being Initiative:

The outreach includes everything from turkey giveaways, GED training and English-language instruction for Hispanic immigrants to community holiday meals and healthy living classes for predominantly African American groups to vocational training and couponing classes for the under-employed. The strategy, according to sources familiar with it and documents reviewed by POLITICO, calls for presenting a more compassionate side of the brothers’ politics to new audiences, while fighting the perception that their groups are merely fronts for rich Republicans seeking to game the political process for personal gain.

So how’s it going?

And one former network executive said, “There are a lot of high-up lieutenants who roll their eyes when they talk about this and question whether it’s getting any bang for the buck. How does teaching people how to clip coupons or giving them free turkeys translate into convincing them that conservatives or Republicans have the best interests of the disadvantaged at heart? Is this really changing people’s minds or are they just showing up for the free turkeys?”

Well, at least the poor are getting some free turkeys out of it. And I suppose that showing up for some food and having to listen to a short lecture on free enterprise is no worse than having to listen to a short sermon.

But is it changing perceptions that the Kochs are basically just a front for rich Republicans seeking to game the political process for personal gain? Nah. A free turkey only goes so far, after all.

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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