CMR and George Soros
There is a odd exchange in the debate at the Bing on September 19. You can watch it courtesy of KHQ, starting around 21:00 on the youtube post.
CMR: "The only dark money in this campaign right now is coming from…[turning to Lisa] some group in New York, I don’t know if you’re fa-familiar with who they are, uh…"
Lisa [helpfully]: “The Congressional Leadership Fund?”
CMR: No! Um. They are, it is, some group in New York…they...they’re an outside group…I’m not sure who they’re funded by…[CMR points her hand toward Lisa] maybe George Soros! [Laughter, then some clapping]
Watch it again. You can almost see the wheels turning in McMorris Rodgers' head. "Here's my chance to insert George Soros!"
Did you notice the trigger words, "George Soros," when you first watched the debate? Did you wonder, "Why did she say that?"
If the name "George Soros" didn't light up any image in your brain you live in a comfortable liberal news silo. Over the last twenty years in the fever swamps of Republican/Libertarian media Mr. Soros has been painted as the puppet master of liberals, the dark force that has deluded Democrats into thinking the way they do, the man fronting the money individually paying the busloads of protesters who came out for the Women's March, for one small example. For people living in the right wing news silo the name "George Soros" lights up the image of a dark lord with a foreign accent manipulating gullible liberals. His name is shorthand for a vast liberal conspiracy bent on undermining American values.
This line of wing nut conspiracy theory is so well developed in the fever swamps of the right that Soros was invoked as hanging out with Dr. Blasey Ford in an eagerly shared photo on Twitter meant to assail Dr. Ford's credibility. Never mind the woman in the photo looked nothing like Dr. Ford.
McMorris Rodgers coils in her news silo, coached by her handlers, and hurls her fireball, "...funded by...maybe George Soros!" she inserts, confident she has lit up the mind frame in her fully primed base. The name drifts by most people, who, if they hear it at all, wonder, "Who is this George Soros, anyway?" Could McMorris Rodgers explain in any detail the actual story of the man George Soros? You'd have to ask her. I suspect for her George Soros is nothing more than a coached soundbite.
George Soros is an 87 year old U.S. citizen, a Jewish immigrant from Hungary. He speaks with an accent. His Jewish immigrant background and accent, of course, make him an easy target for the xenophobic, anti-immigrant right. When Nazi Germany invaded Hungary in 1944, George was 13 years old. He survived the war masquerading as the Christian godson of an agricultural official, escaping the fate of nearly a half million of his Jewish countrymen killed in the Holocaust, The war left him with an indelible bias in favor of liberal democracy and a fierce critic of totalitarianism, fascism, and Marxism. Soros is wealthy, having succeeded as a hedge fund investor. He is the founder and major benefactor of the Open Society Foundations, groups with a presence in 37 countries that aim to support civil society. Of course, his internationalist, humanitarian globalist perspective has made Soros a target from the right.
Let's define "liberal democracy," since the Libertarian right's propaganda wing is so good at twisting language. For George Soros (and for me) a liberal democracy is "characterized by fair, free, and competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and political freedoms for all persons." None of this is possible without a free press. Donald Trump's attacks on reporters and the Republican Party's scorched earth assault to take over the Supreme Court should be setting off alarm bells...
Side note: It is ironic the Soros Foundation provided the funding for Viktor Orban, the nationalist, anti-immigrant prime minister of present day Hungary, to study at Oxford. Orban, one of few European leaders who is an open ally of Trump, has made Soros unwelcome in the country of his birth. "Orban accused Soros, who is an American citizen, of plotting to overwhelm Hungary with Muslim immigrants in order to undermine its Christian heritage. He attacked Soros during campaign rallies, and his government plastered the country with anti-Soros billboards."
I recommend two articles on Soros: "George Soros is a favorite target of the right — here's how that happened" from the Business Insider and a more recent, and much longer and more comprehensive article in the New York Times entitled, "George Soros Bet Big on Liberal Democracy. Now He Fears He Is Losing." The wikipedia entry on Mr. Soros is also useful (especially if you hit a pay wall at the other two).
At 87, George Soros' story is complex, but he is nothing if not a stalwart promoter of the sort of democracy we are fast losing. Does McMorris Rodgers have the bandwidth to understand something of the man, his background, his viewpoints, his philanthropy or is she only capable of absorbing the caricature of him assembled in the Libertarian news silo? You would have to ask her. I hope someone will.
Keep to the high ground,