Republicans Can Never Catch A Break

4 comments April 12th, 2008at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Apparently the new right-wing attack group Freedom’s Watch is, shall we say, underperforming:

In Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, foreign-policy hawks thought they had found the conservative answer to liberal philanthropist George Soros: a deep-pocketed benefactor eager to dole out generous sums to right-leaning advocacy groups and grassroots campaigns. Adelson’s largesse, they believed, would underwrite the further advancement of conservative causes—particularly those regarding national security—and allow conservatives to do well-financed battle with ideological adversaries such as

Conservatives, of course, have long had a well-established network of think tanks, which have produced influential monographs such as the one that became the basis of the Bush administration’s Iraq surge strategy. And well-funded organizations on the right like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have mounted successful campaigns against Democrats. Nevertheless, conservatives in Washington have felt they lacked a comprehensive network of issue-advocacy, grassroots, and campaign groups that could influence the 2008 election and rally public opinion to support their national security agenda over the long term. So last year, when Adelson helped to establish Freedom’s Watch, a group that late last summer launched a $15 million media campaign in support of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, hopes were high—both for Adelson and for Freedom’s Watch. As former White House press secretary and Freedom’s Watch official Ari Fleischer put it in August, “The cavalry is coming.”

Almost eight months later, some Freedom’s Watch watchers are wondering whether some of the cavalry got lost. Even as the group has mounted a new campaign to coincide with General David Petraeus’ testimony on Iraq to Congress this week, there has been conservative grumbling about Freedom’s Watch—and Adelson. And several Freedom’s Watch staffers, including its first president, Bradley Blakeman, have left the group. Now Washington conservatives are worrying that Adelson may not be the white knight they had wished for.

In not-for-attribution interviews, a few conservative think tank hands and activists expressed frustration that Freedom’s Watch has yet to develop a comprehensive strategy, and they gripe that it has been slow to set up a MoveOn-style infrastructure. Freedom’s Watch hasn’t realized its full potential, they say, in part because Adelson overly involves himself in the group’s decision-making and won’t heed the good advice of, �well, people like them.

“He is both meddlesome and attached to his own agenda,” says a conservative think tanker. “And he is not listening to people who are giving him good political and strategic advice.�… They are late to the game and they need to recognize that,” he adds. “MoveOn has had a microphone to itself for a number of years. Freedom’s Watch is not entirely ineffective, but they are not well organized or maximizing their impact.” (Conservatives may be too obsessed with MoveOn to realize that it’s a membership-based organization and not a precise model for a top-down outfit like Freedom’s Watch.)


Conservatives seem to be experiencing Soros envy, believing—rightly or not—that a well-heeled left has out-organized them. “The fact is this [liberal] network, it goes all the way from MoveOn to trial lawyers to the Center for American Progress: The left has all this set up, a very sophisticated structure,” this source says.

Those poor, plucky Republican underdogs.  Once again, they are hopelessly overmatched by the awesome might of the all-powerful liberal conspiracy.  If only they had spent the last few decades pouring billions of dollars into taking over media corporations and constructing a massive, coordinated propaganda apparatus.  How will they ever get their message out now?

(h/t Stoller)

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Republicans


  • 1. Charles  |  April 12th, 2008 at 11:32 am

    The real problem the conservatives face is that liberals have a time machine. That has allowed them to create the mortgage crisis, screw up the Iraq War, generate massive deficits, and otherwise run the nation into a ditch, all during times of ostensible conservative control of government.

    That’s a paraphrase of what they’re saying, of course, but a fair portrayal.

  • 2. Eli  |  April 12th, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Well, not so much that they have a time machine as that the Democrats have been calling the shots all along from their powerful position of just barely controlling between zero and one branches of government (and none of the media) – thwarting or watering down the brilliant conservative policies which would have made everything work out just like the Republicans said it would.

    IIRC, they have actually said, or at least implied, that the mortgage crisis happened because there was too much regulation.

  • 3. Cujo359  |  April 12th, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Some group of bankers implied that not too long ago.

    I think the reason that this guy isn’t having the effect that Soros is having is that he’s just one more. There are already guys like Scaife and the Swiftboat clowns who funnel that kind of money into conservative propaganda.

    Soros is one of the few to do that for progressives.

    “Conservative think tanks” – how can anyone write that phrase without being incapacitated by laughter.

  • 4. Eli  |  April 13th, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Some group of bankers implied that not too long ago.

    If it weren’t for the regulations, everyone would be making enough money to pay their mortgages.

    I think the reason that this guy isn’t having the effect that Soros is having is that he’s just one more.

    Same reason why each conservative scandal seems to have such minimal effect…

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