Friday, October 06, 2006

The Evil George Soros

George Soros is a billionaire who has funded some liberal/progressive causes. The wingnuts argue that he is single-handedly funding everything negative ever said about the Bush administration. Most recently, Dennis Hastert used the Soros meme:

On Wednesday night, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) spun tales of Democratic cabals and hidden agendas for the benefit of hungry reporters. Hastert told The Chicago Tribune that Clinton operatives knew about the allegations and were maybe behind the story's release. "I saw Bill Clinton's adviser, Richard Morris, was saying these guys knew about this all along," he said. "When the base finds out who's feeding this monster, they're not going to be happy.... The people who want to see this thing blow up are ABC News and a lot of Democratic operatives, people funded by George Soros."

After reading so much about this mythically rich financier of all us rabid moonbats, I e-mailed him to ask for my cut. Never got an answer.

The interesting aspect of the Soros meme is that it might have come from the very mouth of Karl Rove. Rove's strategy has always been to attack the opponent where the opponent is actually strongest. Just remember how we suddenly had a fierce debate about the military conduct of John Kerry in Vietnam, while George Bush never even got to Vietnam at all. Mindboggling.

The focus on George Soros is very similar, because the real financiers of political movements are almost all on the wingnut side. Take the case of Richard Schaife. As early as 1999 this was written about his philanthropy:

By compiling a computerized record of nearly all his contributions over the last four decades, The Washington Post found that Scaife and his family's charitable entities have given at least $340 million to conservative causes and institutions – about $620 million in current dollars, adjusted for inflation. The total of Scaife's giving – to conservatives as well as many other beneficiaries – exceeds $600 million, or $1.4 billion in current dollars, much more than any previous estimate.

In the world of big-time philanthropy, there are many bigger givers. The Ford Foundation gave away $491 million in 1998 alone. But by concentrating his giving on a specific ideological objective for nearly 40 years, and making most of his grants with no strings attached, Scaife's philanthropy has had a disproportionate impact on the rise of the right, perhaps the biggest story in American politics in the last quarter of the 20th century.

His money has established or sustained activist think tanks that have created and marketed conservative ideas from welfare reform to enhanced missile defense; public interest law firms that have won important court cases on affirmative action, property rights and how to conduct the national census; organizations and publications that have nurtured conservatism on American campuses; academic institutions that have employed and promoted the work of conservative intellectuals; watchdog groups that have critiqued and harassed media organizations, and many more.

You can find more about the institutions that Scaife is funding at Sourcewatch, and you can compare Scaife's efforts to those of Soros. But this comparison gives an impression of false balance. There are many more billionaires like Scaife on the wingnut side, but not that many on our moonbatty side.