Emmett Tyrrell
WASHINGTON -- One would never guess who attended Dick Scaife's memorial service on the Pennsylvania countryside last week. Scaife has been referred to as the "father of modern conservatism." In his lifetime, he donated a fortune across a whole range of philanthropic endeavors, from the arts to medical research to politics -- conservative politics. His conservative causes were very elevated -- sophisticated thinks tanks, professorial chairs, intellectual reviews -- but also at times they were very partisan. In the 1990s, Scaife was a leading opponent of Bill Clinton, and he frequently drew blood. When Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" she doubtless had him in mind.

Yet, at the memorial service, standing there with the conservative chieftains was a lone Democrat, Bill Clinton, yes, the very same. The 42nd president not only put in an appearance but he actually spoke on Dick Scaife's behalf, saying "Our political differences, our philosophical differences, our religious differences, our racial and ethnic differences, they're important. ... They help us to define who we are. But they don't have to keep us at arm's length from others." And he concluded, "I think the counterintuitive friendship we formed is a good symbol of Richard Mellon Scaife's legacy. ... He fought as hard as he could for what he believed, but he never thought he had to be blind or deaf" to reviewing his positions.

Yale Gutnick, Dick's lawyer, explained both men's affinity best. Gutnick said they became friends because they "shared a mutual love of America." After all the battles of the 1990s, they came together for the country they loved; Dick gave over $100,000 to Bill's foundation for the victims of AIDs. Dick was a great philanthropist. Bill is learning. Dick had said that of all the people he wanted to have speak at his funeral, he wanted the former president. They had buried the hatchet.

So if philanthropy can bring together Dick Scaife and Bill Clinton in a celebration of America, how does one explain the bitter denunciations of the Brothers Koch, who are at the very pinnacle of philanthropy themselves? This week, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times have both featured pieces about the truly astonishing invective that has been hurled at the Kochs for philanthropic acts that have absolutely nothing to do with politics. The Kochs have separated their support for conservative-libertarian causes, which can be simply educational, and for the tea party, which is obviously more partisan, from their philanthropy of a non-political nature. It has not quieted their critics, not even when the philanthropy was for the arts or for minority education.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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