Conservatives' 'Vicious' Criticism Makes Soros Angry

By Robert B. Bluey | July 7, 2008 | 8:30pm EDT

( - Billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros, who has pledged $15.5 million to liberal interest groups, said Monday he would likely up the ante in his quest to oust President Bush from the White House this November.

In a speech before the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., Soros declined to say how much he would give or when he might make the next donation. But he said the attacks he has endured from conservatives - the Republican National Committee and the Bush campaign are two of his biggest critics - have fueled his restlessness.

"I've been really quite viciously attacked for doing what I'm doing," Soros told the packed audience. "It's got a rise out of me and that will probably [result] in a rise in the amount of money I'll devote to it."

Soros later added, "I'm not a politician. I can admit that it has really frustrated me and angered me."

Soros' donations totaling $15.5 million went to liberal causes that include activist groups America Coming Together and, as well as the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Monday's event served as the official release of his book, "The Bubble of American Supremacy," in which he attacks Bush's neoconservative-driven foreign policy and the war on terrorism.

Looking past the upcoming Democratic primaries, Soros said he doesn't have a favorite candidate to take on Bush. But he finds the views of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry most appealing.

"I'm not picking one candidate, but I am keen on Dean," Soros said when asked about the Democratic frontrunner's chances. "I think he can [win]. I think he probably has a more difficult time against his Democratic opponents ... than he will against President Bush. He has a very cogent and very fresh voice."

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson said if Soros continues to fill the coffers of liberal interest groups, it would solidify his position as a top ally of the eventual nominee. She said his liberal positions on an issue like drug reform could be a turnoff for voters.

"The fact that George Soros is able to give the enormous sums that he is able to give makes the future Democratic nominee very beholden to him," Iverson said. "He is the most powerful man in the Democratic Party today by virtue of the fact that he is able to make large donations to whichever candidate or candidates support his views."

Soros has said repeatedly that his quest hinges on changing America's foreign policy. Soros said it is not so much personal dislike of Bush, but rather the views the president brings to the table. "Many Republicans share my concerns," Soros said.

"If we elect Bush in 2004, we endorse the Bush doctrine, and we will have to live with the consequences," Soros said. "We shall be regarded with widespread hostility and terrorists will be able to count on many sympathizers throughout the world. We are liable to be trapped in a vicious circle of violence, which we already are in Iraq."

Rejecting Bush would illustrate to the world that the United States had undergone a "temporary aberration" during his term in office. Soros said this is analogous to the bubble that formed, and later burst, in the stock market.

In the book, Soros takes aim at the Project for the New American Century, a neoconservative organization committed to U.S. military, diplomatic and moral leadership. Soros claims the group has had an astonishing amount of influence at the White House because Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed the group's mission statement in 1997.

The organization's executive director, Gary J. Schmitt, flatly denied that charge. Schmitt recently appeared alongside one of the nation's leading neoconservatives, Richard Perle, at a Hudson Institute forum last month to defend the movement and its accomplishments.

In response to Soros' comments Monday, Schmitt said Bush's critics often fail to grasp the full impact of the president's work.

"If you look at where diplomatic initiatives are taking place now, whether it's North Korea, Iran or Libya, the reality is that President Bush set a new agenda after Sept. 11," Schmitt said. "It's really quite striking how much of the agenda he's set has become part of the global agenda."

Schmitt said for all of the complaining about that agenda in the United States and abroad, the Bush administration has attracted a number of allies in the global war on terror.

Soros, however, said the "future of the world hangs in the balance" with the 2004 election. He said he remains worried that the "Bush propaganda machine" would try to turn away from national security and trump the growing economy as its top campaign issue.

As for Iraq, Soros said the United States shouldn't pull out its forces. He also praised the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"I rejoice at the fall of Saddam," Soros said. "And I am particularly pleased that he has been captured in a rat hole without putting up resistance. But that doesn't change the fact that the invasion of Iraq was an egregious error."

Following his presentation, Soros was asked about his views on Bush's religion and the role religion should play in politics. After growing up as a Jew in Hungary during the Nazi occupation, Soros later in life said he was an atheist.

"There's nothing wrong with religion," Soros said. "I think that there is something wrong with the fundamentalist view of the world, because the fact that your opponents are wrong doesn't necessarily make you right. The fact that you are attacked by terrorists doesn't exempt you from criticism of the way you react to that threat. I'm afraid there is this fundamentalist fallacy, which should not be part of our political life."

See Earlier Story:
George Soros' Atheism Fuels Conservative Rage
(Dec. 16, 2003)

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