Soros: Did he fund Kavanaugh protests?
Soros: Echoes of anti-Semitism
President Trump has discovered the Right’s “favorite bogeyman,” saidAdele Stan in The American Prospect. Last week, Trump joined in conservatives’ accusation that sexual assault survivors protesting Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court were being funded by billionaire financier George Soros. It’s no secret that Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor born in Hungary, gives lavishly to liberal groups through his Open Society Foundation. But in right-wing “fever swamps,” the depiction of Soros as a Machiavellian puppetmaster echoes the ugly anti-Semitic conspiracies of previous eras. “No, the protesters aren’t being paid to protest, let alone by George Soros,” said Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Nevertheless, prominent Republicans rushed to back up Trump, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chair. This is scary stuff. In Hungary and Poland—former democracies that are now de facto one-party states—governments regularly accuse Soros “of stirring up opposition to their rule,” with strong, anti-Semitic code words.
Trump’s Soros-bashing isn’t anti-Semitic, said Jonathan Tobin in Haaretz.com. Soros is a prominent progressive, and Republican attacks on Soros “are no different from the way Democrats have gone all out to demonize the billionaire Koch Brothers—non-Jewish libertarians who spent freely on behalf of Republicans.” Trump actually “has a point,” said Asra Nomani in The Wall Street Journal. Soros isn’t cutting literal checks to demonstrators, but he has provided millions in grants to many of the liberal groups that organized against Kavanaugh, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Popular Democracy. As journalists and investigators often say, “follow the money.”
First of all, most large-scale protests—whether on the Right or the Left—require money for professional organization, logistics, and support, said Philip Bump in The Washington Post. That doesn’t mean that “the protesters themselves are not sincere.” Secondly, it’s rich to hear Trump complaining about money in politics. Kavanaugh benefited from at least $12 million in television ads supporting his nomination that were paid for by the pro-conservative Judicial Crisis Network, whose donors are hidden from the public. Of course, Trump would know a thing or two about paid protesters. It’s often forgotten now, but when Trump first launched his presidential campaign—then considered a joke—he paid dozens of actors $50 a head to be there and cheer wildly. How’s that for fake news?