The Soros Slander Campaign Continues
Alterman, Eric, The Nation
We return this week to the conservative crusade to destroy the reputation of financier and philanthropist George Soros. The Hungarian-born billionaire has driven Republicans to distraction for two reasons. First, after decades of dedicating his fortune to fighting for democracy and civil society in his native Eastern Europe, he has turned his attention to the United States, where he is spending as much as $15 million to help various liberal groups improve their efforts to expose the malfeasance of the Bush Administration and defeat it in 2004. Second, in response to some surprise questioning at a meeting with Jewish leaders last year, Soros offered his opinion that Israeli foreign policy is in significant measure responsible for increasing anti-Semitism around the world.
The attacks have been ratcheted up in recent weeks because the Republicans see his prominent role in funding organizations like America Coming Together, MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress (where I am a senior fellow) as a means to tar John Kerry as a dangerous radical by association. They'd also like to scare off others who might be considering such roles for themselves. The Republican National Committee has circulated a briefing paper on Capitol Hill in which Soros is referred to as "Lord of the Democrats" and the "Daddy Warbucks" of the drug legalization movement, and which highlights what it deems to be his controversial positions on abortion, gun control and the right to end one's own life. In Richard Mellon Scaife's NewsMax magazine, a writer named Richard Poe has extended the attack against the "somewhat loony" Soros, who, he says, "hates America" and is seeking to engineer a "coup" against George W. Bush. Poe has been invited out of the Scaife swamp to repeat this nonsense to millions of people via Bill O'Reilly's Fox program, in which the host has repeatedly denounced the alleged crimes of the man he calls "as far left as you can get and not move to Havana," "the most powerful Democrat in the country" and "the Godfather." Not much on nuance, O'Reilly describes Soros's position on immigration as follows: "Come on in, Al Qaeda. We'll get bin Laden a condo. If he doesn't have the money, we'll income-redistribute and get it to him." Mr. "No Spin" alleges that the mainstream media present Soros as if he were "Little Bo Peep" in order to protect the Democrats "because most Americans don't buy into his agenda."
O'Reilly also heaps scorn on Soros for being a "committed atheist," characterizing him as "definitely anti-Israel in the sense that he believes...that the Palestinians are the aggrieved and the oppressors are the Israeli government." But even he does not go as far as Tony Blankley, editor of the editorial page of Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, former spokesperson for Newt Gingrich and a frequent guest panelist on cable and network chat shows. Using unmistakably anti-Semitic tropes and metaphors, Blankley appeared on Fox's Hannity & Colmes to call Soros a "robber baron" and "pirate capitalist." "This is a man who blamed the Jews for anti-Semitism," he continued. "This is a man who, when he was plundering the world's currencies, in England in '92, he caused the Southeast Asian financial crisis in '97. …