dilmana stefanova on Wed, 19 Nov 2003 08:56:19 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-ro] Soros vs. Bush


Billionaire George Soros Targets Bush
"Ousting President Central Focus Of My Life," He Says
by Laura Blumenfeld
 2003 The Washington Post Company

New York -- November 11, 2003 -- George Soros, one of the world s
richest men, has given away nearly $5 billion to promote democracy in
the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project:
defeating President Bush.

" t is the central focus of my life," Soros said, his blue eyes
settled on an unseen target.  The 2004 presidential race, he said in
an interview, is a matter of life and death.

Soros, who has financed efforts to promote open societies in more 
50 countries around the world, is bringing the fight home, he said. 
Monday, he and a partner committed up to $5 million to MoveOn.org, a
liberal activist group, bringing to $15.5 million the total of his
personal contributions to oust Bush.

A Danger to the World

Overnight, Soros, 74, has become the major financial player of the
left.  He has elicited cries of foul play from the right.  And with a
tight nod, he pledged: If necessary, I would give more money.

"America, under Bush, is a danger to the world," Soros said.  Then he
smiled: "And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."

Soros believes a supremacist ideology guides this White House.  In 
rhetoric, he hears echoes of his childhood in occupied Hungary. "When
I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me
of the Germans.  It conjures up memories," he said, "of Nazi slogans
on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (The enemy is listening).  My
experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me," he said 
a soft Hungarian accent.

Soros' contributions are filling a gap in Democratic Party finances
that opened after the restrictions in the 2002 McCain-Feingold law
took effect.  In the past, political parties paid a large share of
television and get-out-the-vote costs with unregulated soft money
contributions from corporations, unions and rich individuals.  The
parties are now barred from accepting such money.  But non-party
groups in both camps are stepping in, accepting soft money and taking
over voter mobilization.

"It's incredibly ironic that George Soros is trying to create a more
open society by using an unregulated, under-the-radar-screen, 
soft-money group to do it," Republican National Committee spokeswoman
Christine Iverson said.  "George Soros has purchased the Democratic

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

"Neo-conservatives," Soros said, "are exploiting the terrorist
of September 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 continued.  "He's leading the U.S. and the
world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence."

The Soros Doctrine

Soros said he had been waking at 3 a.m., his thoughts shaking him 
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 
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."

His campaign began last summer with the help of Mort Halpern, a
liberal think tank veteran.  Soros invited Democratic strategists to
his house in Southampton, Long Island, including Clinton chief of
staff John D. Podesta, Jeremy Rosner, Robert Boorstin and Carl Pope.

They discussed the coming election.  Standing on the back deck, the
evening sun angling into their eyes, Soros took aside Steve 
CEO of the liberal activist group America Coming Together (ACT), and
Ellen Malcolm, its president.  They were proposing to mobilize voters
in 17 battleground states.  Soros told them he would give ACT $10

Asked about his moment in the sun, Rosenthal deadpanned: "We were
disappointed.  We thought a guy like George Soros could do more. Then
he laughed, 'No, kidding!'  It was thrilling."

Malcolm: "It was like getting his Good Housekeeping Seal of

"They were ready to kiss me," Soros quipped.

Before coffee the next morning, his friend Peter Lewis, chairman of
the Progressive Corp., had pledged $10 million to ACT.  Rob Glaser,
founder and CEO of RealNetworks, promised $2 million.  Rob McKay,
president of the McKay Family Foundation, gave $1 million, and
benefactors Lewis and Dorothy Cullman committed $500,000.

Soros also promised up to $3 million to Podesta's new think tank, the
Center for American Progress.

Soros will continue to recruit wealthy donors for his campaign.
Having put a lot of money into the war of ideas around the world, he
has learned that money buys talent; you can advocate more 

At his home in Westchester, N.Y., he raised $115,000 for Democratic
presidential candidate Howard Dean.  He also supports Democratic
presidential contenders Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), retired Gen.
Wesley K. Clark and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.).

In an effort to limit Soros' influence, the RNC sent a letter to Dean
Monday, asking him to request that ACT and similar organizations
follow the McCain-Feingold restrictions limiting individual
contributions to $2,000.

Watchdogging Him Closely

The RNC is not the only group irked by Soros.  Fred Wertheimer,
president of Democracy 21, which promotes changes in campaign
has benefited from Soros' grants over the years.  Soros has backed
altering campaign finance, an aide said, donating close to $18 
over the past seven years.

"There's some irony, given the supporting role he played in helping 
end the soft money system," Wertheimer said.  "I'm sorry that Mr.
Soros has decided to put so much money into a political effort to
defeat a candidate.  We will be watchdogging him closely."

An aide said Soros welcomes the scrutiny.  Soros has become as rich 
he has, the aide said, because he has a preternatural instinct for a
good deal.

Asked whether he would trade his $7 billion fortune to unseat Bush,
Soros opened his mouth.  Then he closed it.  The proposal hung in the
air: Would he become poor to beat Bush?

He said: "If someone guaranteed it."

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