September 24, 2009
The Soros-Axelrod Axis?
George Soros is one of the big sugar daddies of the Democratic Party. He also is the ruler of an archipelago of so-called 527 groups that pose as non-partisan activists groups, but in fact are often hyper-partisan (such as MoveOn.Org), and are often employed by Democrats to influence elections. Soros, for years, has been the top funder of such groups. His influence among Democrats is widespread and enduring (and was well-documented by David Horowitz and Richard Poe in their book, The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party). His pet think-tank, the Center for American Progress, has been the idea factory and employment agency (think Van Jones, among others) for President Obama.
There is no proof, but there certainly is reason to suspect that Soros also has been working in cahoots with David Axelrod, Obama's former campaign strategist and now his numero uno domestic policy adviser. Soros has expertise in influencing our nation's foreign policy by forming faux astroturf groups that operate under the guise of being independent. Soros, the hedge fund billionaire, is one of the world's most astute investors. He has mastered the art and science of politics and invests in a panoply of think tanks, 527 groups, politicians, astroturf groups, and the Democratic Party to provide himself with the tools to influence our nation's policies. In this administration , he may have reached the pinnacle of his power. Now many of his groups are starting to look like tools the White House is using to drive policy.
A little background might help to tease out the possibility that Soros may have established an early working relationship with Axelrod. Soros was an early and ardent supporter of Barack Obama, even using a loophole in federal campaign laws to funnel outsized donations to him for his Senate campaign. The various think tanks and 527 groups that Soros funds have provided advisers and de facto campaign help for Barack Obama. Naturally, Soros and Axelrod would have crossed paths.
Soros and Axelrod are natural allies. For years, Axelrod ran not just a political consultancy firm (AKP & D Message and Media) but also had a lucrative business operating under the rubric of ASK Public Strategies. The latter firm specialized in creating so called astroturf groups: well-funded activist groups that have the façade of being grassroots phenomena, but are merely tools of moneyed interests. Astroturf groups are a mirror image of 527 groups, of which, to repeat, Soros is the nation's top donor. Is it possible that Soros has worked hand in hand with Axelrod to create such an astroturf group -- this time not to win elections, but to carry out Barack Obama's policies?
A model for this type of strategy might be J Street, a recently-formed lobbying group that bills itself as being a pro-Israel group but whose policies and principles belie this claim. J Street has been run in ways that resemble a political campaign -- one that Axelrod himself might appreciate. J Street has an arm that raises campaign money for candidates, is skilled at public relations and using the internet to generate support, chants the change mantra, and even uses such campaign tactics as phony push-polls to promote its views. But J Street is not just promoting its views, it is promoting President Obama's as well, and is working within the Jewish community to peel away support for the American-Israel relationship. They may well be "protecting the Quarterback in the White House" as Lenny Ben-David writes in the Jerusalem Post.
In fact, it can be seen as having "Obama's back" when it comes to the pressure he is exerting on Israel.
Others concur with Ben-David's views.
James Kirchick , assistant editor of The New Republic, characterized J Street as all but being Obama's Lobby to the Jewish community.
And who better to counter the influence of the so-called "Israel Lobby" than other Jews? J Street and the constellation of far-left "pro-Israel" organizations put a kosher stamp of approval on Obama's bizarre hectoring and moral equivalence. By casting Israel as the obstructionist, as the "drunk" driver whose car keys need to be taken away (as Ben-Ami put it in one of his more candid moments), Obama will have a free hand to compel the parties to the peace table. And once gathered there, another Oslo accord can be forced upon a recalcitrant Israel (whereupon the disastrous consequences of that agreement -- the erection of terrorist infrastructure, a deterioration of the Palestinian economy, deepening mutual distrust -- will be repeated).
The New York Times agrees that "J Street shares the Obama administration's agenda" including opposition to settlements and sanctions on Iran. Is this a coincidence? Very few things are coincidences when it comes to politics -- especially as practiced by George Soros and David Axelrod.
Soros has strong ties to J Street. He was involved in its initial formation during Obama's campaign last year. Since Soros is notorious for being anti-Israel, he stepped back from public involvement. But he certainly has people who are beholden to him in key positions on J Street's advisory council, including Robert Malley (a foreign policy adviser to Obama during the campaign and an employee of the Soros-funded International Crisis Group); Eli Pariser, founder and leader of the Soros-supported MoveOn.Org-so helpful to Obama during his campaign; Morton Halperin, Soros's major domo at his Open Society Institute (a type of holding company for a range of Soros operations). J Street keeps its donors secret (Soros' modus operandi) so we may never know the extent of his largesse, but Soros has billions to spend and seems bent on hurting Israel and the America-Israel relationship.
Is J Street just a tool for Obama to make America's Jewish community more pliable regarding his policies towards Israel? Such a course of action was expressly advocated by at least two of his campaign advisers: the aforementioned Robert Malley and Daniel Kurtzer. Kurtzer and Scott Lasensky published a booklet last year advising Presidents who wanted to pressure Israel to first work to counter the influence of pro-Israel groups within America. What better way to help than create lobbying groups that would divide the Jewish community and provide cover for Obama?
The Obama administration has further enhanced the influence and power of J Street by giving the upstart group a place at the table in ways that previous Presidents would have been unlikely to countenance.
Are there ties between J Street and David Axelrod?
The well-regarded and non-political National Journal published an article last year regarding the genesis of J Street. The article mentioned Soros and then focused on others behinds its formation. Lenny Ben-David criticizes a recent puff-piece on J Street that ran in the New York Times:
...the Times should have gone on to ask the nature of J Street's relationship with senior officials in the Obama administration. The National Journal article on organizational meetings prior to J Street's launch -- and at the height of the Democratic primaries -- listed advisers including "several activists with ties to Democratic contender Barack Obama of Illinois." At the height of Israel's Gaza operation in December 2008, J Street's evenhanded statement on the fighting was very similar to that of David Axelrod, Obama's senior adviser, who, speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, avoided endorsing Israel's military action.
J STREET just launched an initiative to "bust" anti-Obama smears within the pro-Israel community. Volunteers to the "Obama Smear Busters" must take a pledge that approaches a vassal-like fealty: "Pledge right now to reply-all [sic] to every smear e-mail you receive about President Obama, Jews and Israel with the truth by filling out the form below."
The New York Times article avoided asking the hard questions and failed to examine who was funding, directing and supporting J Street.
Let me pose a possible answer to Ben-David's question.
George Soros is funding J Street, and David Axelrod may have been involved in getting it going. He has considerable expertise and has made millions of dollars in being the maestro behind such groups. He certainly may have been responsible for their sudden emergence as a foreign policy player in Obama's Washington. Why would David Axlerod be among foreign policy leaders who met recently with Simon Peres, President of Israel? Does Axelrod have any foreign policy expertise? Who has been responsible for inviting J Street to various meetings with President Obama and various key administration officials, while excluding pro-Israel groups on the right?
We know how Soros and Obama benefit from the rise of J Street; a new lobby has been created and empowered to weaken support for the America-Israel relationship and serve the purposes of both Soros and Obama. How does Axelrod benefit?
He already is benefiting while inside the White House, as he collects millions of dollars from his former public relations firms as they sign lucrative contracts with coalitions created to push the Obama agenda. He was forced to sell his ownership interests in these firms when he became the domestic policy guru for President Obama, but still benefits financially as they are enriched.
Axelrod and the Obamas have a history of working together to create at least one astroturf-like initiative. When Michelle Obama was employed by the University of Chicago Hospitals, she recommended the hospital hire David Axelrod‘s firm, ASK public Strategies, to ensure community support for a plan to dump patients who were unlikely to be able to pay the hospital for medical services onto other hospitals. This was Mrs. Obama's "Urban Health Initiative" (1984 euphemism). What did Axelrod do?
Axelrod's firm recommended an aggressive promotional effort modeled on a political campaign-appoint a campaign manager, conduct focus groups, target messages to specific constituencies, then recruit religious leaders and other third-party ‘validators.' They, in turn, would write and submit opinion pieces to Chicago publications."To this day, Axelrod and the Obama campaign have refused to release how much Axelrod was paid for his "work".
However one may feel about the America-Israel relationship, J Street is not the issue. J Street may just be the canary in the coal mine. J Street could be a model for the formation of a range of groups that may have the façade of independence but are actually tools of Barack Obama and company, to use to change America and the world?
One may also wonder how ethical and transparent an administration is that would form lobbies to push its agenda. This is not how a democracy works. A lobby is formed by the people to have a collective voice in the corridors of power. Conversely, a President that forms a lobby violates the principles and the spirit of democracy. In fact, it has overtones of subverting democracy to further autocracy.
Will Axelrod be rewarded by George Soros outside the White House (when he leaves) for his work inside the White House?
Will he resurrect a new firm to form and guide 527 groups that George Soros will then generously fund -- along with a cut for Axelrod and company? After all, Soros is unlikely to stop funding astroturf groups; they have been very useful in advancing his agenda.
Will the mores of pay to play -- the unofficial Chicago motto -- become the mores of Washington?
They already have.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.