Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Soros and the Dems

The Democrats have made a very, very useful friend: George Soros, whose dedication to defeating Bush has already benefited MoveOn.org and the umbrella group America Coming Together (ACT) to the tune of $5 and $10 million, respectively. The story behind his decision to underwrite the fight against Bush is interesting as well:

In past election cycles, Soros contributed relatively modest sums. In 2000, his aide said, he gave $122,000, mostly to Democratic causes and candidates. But recently, Soros has grown alarmed at the influence of neoconservatives, whom he calls "a bunch of extremists guided by a crude form of social Darwinism."

Neoconservatives, Soros said, are exploiting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a preexisting agenda of preemptive war and world dominion. "Bush feels that on September 11th he was anointed by God," Soros said. "He's leading the U.S. and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence."

Soros said he had been waking at 3 a.m., his thoughts shaking him "like an alarm clock." Sitting in his robe, he wrote his ideas down, longhand, on a stack of pads. In January, PublicAffairs will publish them as a book, "The Bubble of American Supremacy" (an excerpt appears in December's Atlantic Monthly). In it, he argues for a collective approach to security, increased foreign aid and "preventive action."

"It would be too immodest for a private person to set himself up against the president," he said. "But it is, in fact" -- he chuckled -- "the Soros Doctrine."
The nice thing about Soros' support is that the Republicans, really, can't do very much to stop him. Any attempt to attack Soros will run up against their own shadowy supporters, especially the notoriously publicity-averse Richard Mellon Scaife, and the reality that the left is quite willing and able to match them shot-for-shot in any war over financial backing.

It also means that the Republicans are in a tricky position vis a vis fundraising. Scaife's support will blunt Bush's primary funding advantage, and can be used to underwrite criticism of the Bush government, using the same techniques that Scaife employs for the right. In turn, this will allow Howard Dean (and the other candidates, but especially Dean) to employ small-amount supporters specifically for positive and comparative advertisements- the kind of stuff that Soros won't be allowed to touch. Soros' book and notoriety will ensure that any organization he underwrites gets free media attention and a fair shot at influencing the public discourse. Assuming that the grassroots Dean support remains as an ABB group even if he doesn't win, neither Soros' nor the candidates' money will need to go to GOTV efforts, because there will be volunteers aplenty, and they'll be swimming in money to support their efforts.

Karl Rove has just had a very bad day.

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