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Duke professor Nancy MacLean appears on HBO's Real Time, discusses Koch brothers

The recent feud between the Koch brothers and President Donald Trump was the topic of conversation on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," where Nancy MacLean appeared Friday night.

MacLean, William H. Chafe professor of history and public policy, was asked about Trump's feud with the well-known pair. The professor has written about the Koch brothers, including their ties to modern libertarianism. 

"It's a tremendous distraction," MacLean said. "I have been studying Charles Koch and the plan that he's been developing and the ideas that they've weaponized for over a decade now, and I have learned one thing, which is never pay any attention to any individual play and instead look at the long game that he's playing." 

Understanding the "long game" and strategy leads to getting a better sense of "what the pieces are and what to anticipate," she said. 

A case study of the point, MacLean added, was the "flash of light" between Charles Koch and Trump after Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

"Why now? Why now—because they are this close to getting Brett Kavanaugh, a Koch-selected Supreme Court justice, on the court just in time to affect what Koch is actually seeking, which—in the language of the architect whose ideas he's weaponized who I studied in my book James Buchanan, the first U.S. Southerner to win the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences—[are] changes in our Constitution so radical as to be called a constitutional revolution," MacLean said.

MacLean's book about Buchanan was on the shortlist for a National Book Award, but it was critiqued by some of her Duke colleagues. 

Check out the full segment with MacLean below:

Bre Bradham

Bre is a senior political science major from South Carolina, and she is the current video editor, special projects editor and recruitment chair for The Chronicle. She is also an associate photography editor and an investigations editor. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief and local and national news department head. 

Twitter: @brebradham


Likhitha Butchireddygari

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Class of 2019

Editor-in-chief 2017-18, 

Local and national news department head 2016-17

Born in Hyderabad, India, Likhitha Butchireddygari moved to Baltimore at a young age. She is pursuing a Program II major entitled "Digital Democracy and Data" about the future of the American democracy.


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