Eighteen days ago, Charles and David Koch filed their now-infamous lawsuit against the Cato Institute, Cato president Ed Crane, and the estate of former Cato chairman Bill Niskanen. I got caught up in the story for a couple weeks, but as I’ve dug deeper, I now realize there’s not much here. This is not some fight for the soul of the libertarian movement. It’s not a valiant struggle by Cato scholars to preserve their independence. It’s not a principled stand against the Kochs and their money.
When you cut through all the bullshit—90% of which is coming from the Cato side—what you’re left with is two old men who simply refuse to compromise. Charles Koch signed an agreement that he believes Ed Crane refuses to honor. Ed Crane feels he has earned the right to dictate Cato’s future after 35 years at the helm. Complicating matters was a series of poorly drafted legal documents, from the two shareholder agreements to Niskanen’s will. There’s no great ideological battle going on here. And I’m not going to spend another moment pretending otherwise.