December 27, 2003


JOSEPH COORS SR., B. 1917: Potent Brew (JAMES TRAUB, 12/28/03, NY Times Magazine)

Coors was born into a Colorado brewing family that shared the don't-tread-on-me philosophy common in the West, especially among family-owned businesses. Coors himself was just a garden-variety conservative until 1953, when he happened across the book that converted so many merely disgruntled right-wingers into active members of a movement: Russell Kirk's ''Conservative Mind.'' In the 1960's, he became an important supporter of Ronald Reagan and served a cantankerous term as regent of the University of Colorado, then boiling with student agitation. He came to the attention of Paul Weyrich, another movement figure who dreamed of establishing a policy institute that could germinate conservative thought as groups like Brookings had long done for liberals. In 1973, Coors gave the organization $250,000, plus another $300,000 for a building. And so the Heritage Foundation was born.

In 1977, he financed another institution, the Mountain States Legal Foundation. When Reagan was elected president, Coors was identified as a member of his kitchen cabinet; Mountain States' president, James Watt, became secretary of the interior and set off on what environmentalists deemed a reign of terror. As if all that weren't enough, Coors and his brother Bill waged a bitter struggle with workers that ended with the ousting of the company's unions. Joseph Coors was an easy guy to boycott. Bill once described his brother's politics to The Rocky Mountain News, not admiringly, as ''far right to Attila the Hun.''

It is time, however, to give the Hun his due.

Who even knew it was possible to say that in a not admiring way?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 27, 2003 10:58 PM

If you had a year, could you explain to the Times why the statement "waged a bitter struggle with workers that ended with the ousting of the company's unions" cannot possibly be true?

There's a pretty good novel, Memoirs of an Invisible Man (no, not that Invisible Man, or that one), in which the title character is trying to explain some basic economics to his girlfriend, a Times business reporter, on the theory that it couldn't hurt if one New York Times reporter actually knew some economics. This was, of course, pre-Krugman, so not as true then as it is now.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 27, 2003 11:17 PM

This explains a lot! In a comedy club on Martha's Vineyard, about 10 years ago, I watched a comedian (a liberal comedian) berate someone in the first row for drinking Coors...(one great way to kill a show, by the way)...I was mystified at the time as to why this comic would be so passionate about the patron's choice of brew. I now know what was under his skin! Thanks for the link!

Posted by: Brian McKim at December 28, 2003 10:49 AM

Only because of the trampling power of the all-mighty state were you able to see someone drinking Coors on Martha's Vineyard.

Coors, a self-made millionaire, and a government-made billionaire.

Of course he never forgave that.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 28, 2003 3:16 PM