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Billionaire financier George Soros, who is spending tens of millions to defeat President Bush, came under heavy criticism at media events in the nation’s capital, including a protest in which a parent who opposes the legalization of drugs momentarily took over the podium from him.
Soros told a crowd at the National Press Club he no longer was certain of a Kerry victory, and that if Bush wins, he plans to go away to “some kind of monastery to reflect on what is wrong with us.”
Prior to that event Thursday, a national drug summit called a press conference to “expose and oppose” Soros over his “retreat and defeat agenda in the war on drugs.”
Event organizers complained that through a loophole in the campaign finance law, Soros is pouring money into defeating President Bush, who opposes drug legalization.
The organizers included current and former law enforcement and drug officials, anti-drug activists, and other concerned citizens.
Among the speakers were Joyce Nalepka, the founder of America’s Children Drug-Free; Robert Charles, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs; Donnie Marshall, a former administrator with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Peter Bensinger, a former administrator with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Dr. Robert DuPont, M.D., president of the Institute on Behavior and Health and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; and Dr. Andrea Barthwell, M.D., former deputy, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Cliff Kincaid, editor of the Accuracy in Media Report, also was featured at the event and took the podium to castigate media for “failing to investigate the billionaire’s drug legalization agenda for America and his controversial financial dealings.”
Kincaid released a report called, “The Hidden Soros Agenda: Drugs, Money, the Media, and Politics.”
The report names groups such as Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Center for Investigative Reporting as having received money from Soros.
“We conclude that either the media fear his wealth and power, they favor his positions on the issues, or they want access to his money,” Kincaid said.
Those present maintained that Soros plans to subvert the nation’s anti-drug policy if he achieves his stated goal of defeating Bush on November 2.
The event was covered by national broadcast media and featured an emotional presentation by four parents who had lost their children to drug-related deaths.
“I’m here as a parent, not as law enforcement or as a politician,” said an impassioned Corinne Thoms, whose son was killed by a stranger “high out of his mind on drugs.”
Thoms first addressed proponents of drug legalization.
“I’m here to let them know how I spend my days, how I spend my holidays, how I spend my nights grieving over the murder of my 16-year old son,” she said.
Comparing children to a cherished garden, she urged parents to oppose drug legalizers.
“It’s time to stand up,” said Thoms. “These people are literally destroying our nation. If we don’t stand up, our garden will be gone.”
Thoms read a list of questions about drug policy that had been given to both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry. The group only received responses from Bush and indicated it was pleased with his stances.
Parent Kate Patton of Chicago told the audience she would like Soros to, “Look in the faces of all four of us [parents] and tell us he’s still going to keep giving money to drug legalization causes. I defy him.”
Later in the day, the parents attended the Soros luncheon at the National Press Club. Just prior to the event, Patton approached Soros at the head table, shook his hand, and asked him if he ever had a child die from drugs.
Clash at the lecturn
Before Soros took the podium, another parent, Steve Steiner, walked up to the lectern and tried to address the crowd, while holding a photo of his deceased son.
A struggle ensued, with Steiner attempting to remain still and speak as officials physically restrained him, but event organizers first turned the microphone away from him.
Ironically, Soros’ speech gave ample play to the importance of not stifling dissent.
“Eighteen months after 9-11, Bush suppressed all dissent by calling it unpatriotic,” Soros declared.
He emphasized that “divergent viewpoints” were essential to an open society, and that his pouring of millions into 527 campaign groups was an expression of First Amendment rights.
Soros also was asked about a complaint against him the National Legal Policy Center had filed with the FEC.
Insisting the complaint had no merit, Soros said it came from a “shady group” funded by “the shady billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.”
The complaint alleges Soros may have made illegal expenditures on behalf of Kerry and Edwards because “he failed to disclose expenses related to [his] tour.” The group claims that nothing has been reported on travel, public relations and other costs.
NLPC officials labeled Soros a hypocrite for funding the McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill and then giving millions to Democratic-related 527s like MoveOn.org.
Their press conference was held at the National Press Club also, a half hour before Soros’ appearance.
The event was attended by Soros’ spokesman, attorney and a representative of their PR firm, who mometarily commanded the media attention in the room. All denied the charges had any validity.
Peter Flaherty, co-founder of the National Legal and Policy Center, also cited a Newsweek article critical of a Soros essay, “The Capitalist Threat.”
Newsweek columnist Robert Samuelson called it “gibberish” and labeled Soros a “crackpot.”
The writer compared Soros’ piece to the “Unabomber’s manifesto in its sweeping, unsupported and disconnected generalizations.”
It’s not the first time Soros has been labeled an oddity. While charging Bush’s faith makes him mentally unfit for office, Soros has himself admitted to experiencing messianic impulses, critics point out.
“I fancied myself as some kind of god … ,” Soros once said. “If the truth be known, I carried some rather potent messianic fantasies with me from childhood, which I felt I had to control, otherwise they might get me in trouble.
“It is a sort of disease when you consider yourself some kind of god, the creator of everything, but I feel comfortable about it now since I began to live it out.”
Soros critics Rachel Ehrenfeld and Shawn Macomber point to another unusual admission Soros made on British television: “Next to my fantasies about being God, I also have very strong fantasies of being mad. In fact, my grandfather was actually paranoid. I have a lot of madness in my family. So far I have escaped it.”
At his National Press Club appearance however, it was a mentally unstable Bush that Soros warned people about.
President Bush had, “Run the country off the rails,” Soros said, and re-electing him would mean “the war on terror will never end.”
He criticized the president for not sending enough troops to Iraq, and for using the phrase, “We’re fighting the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”
“He’s hanging out soldiers like flypaper,” Soros complained, adding that the war in Iraq was illegal, ill-conceived, and unfounded and had created more terrorists than the U.S. could ever kill.
“We used to be able to project overwhelming power anywhere in the world,” said Soros, “but we can’t now. We’re bogged down [in Iraq.]”
He also complained that Bush had succeeded in defining Kerry to the public before Kerry did. As a result, the “flip-flop” profile stuck. Soros contends Kerry’s not a ‘flip-flopper’ and that his comments were distorted and taken out of context. Portraying Sen. Kerry as engaging in “nuanced” thinking, Soros said, “That’s exactly what we need in a commander-in-chief.”
He also rebutted the charge that he supports the legalization of drugs, saying he supports “giving heroin and methadone to addicts” and “providing clean needles.” Soros answered his critics by saying the war on drugs had destroyed more lives than drugs have.
“You can wind up with a destroyed life because of jail,” Soros said, adding that he supports the idea of treatment for addicts.
Michael Levy, senior advisor to the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs responded.
“The reality of Mr. Soros’ support in these various undertakings speaks for itself,” he said.
Kincaid said Soros “told the audience that he opposed drug legalization but that he favors the government giving heroin to addicts.”
“He opposes the Iraq war but says we need to send more troops there,” Kincaid pointed out. “He says he’ll live with new regulations on hedge funds but lobbied against them. And Soros, an atheist, also said he’d go live in a monastery if Bush wins. Only the press would so love somebody so erratic and unstable. He’s more of a flip-flopper than his chosen candidate, John Kerry.”