So, the billionaires have decided to take on MoveOn.org with a group of their own.
Freedom’s Watch, a deep-pocketed conservative group led by two former senior White House officials, made an audacious debut in late August when it began a $15 million advertising campaign designed to maintain Congressional support for President Bush’s troop increase in Iraq.It debuted with a $15 million campaign.
Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors, its intention to far outspend its rivals and its ambition to pursue a wide-ranging agenda. Its next target: Iran policy.How is this different from FOX News or the Washington Times? And they're into policy. Sounds like another organ of the American Enterprise Institute.
With a forceful message and a roster of wealthy benefactors, Freedom’s Watch has quickly emerged from the crowded field of nonprofit advocacy groups as a conservative answer to the nine-year-old liberal MoveOn.org, which vehemently opposes the Iraq war.And who are these cats?
One benefactor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the group was hoping to raise as much as $200 million by November 2008. Raising big money “will be easy,” the benefactor said, adding that several of the founders each wrote a check for $1 million. Mr. Blakeman would not confirm or deny whether any donor gave $1 million, or more, to the organization.The "Fat Cats".
Since the group is organized as a tax-exempt organization, it does not have to reveal its donors and it can not engage in certain types of partisan activities that directly support political candidates. It denies coordinating its activities with the White House, although many of its donors and organizers are well connected to the administration, including Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary.
For years, the group’s founders lamented MoveOn’s growing influence, derived in large part from its grass-roots efforts, especially on the debate about the Iraq war. “A bunch of us activists kept watching MoveOn and its attacks on the war, and it just got to be obnoxious,” said Mr. Sembler, a friend of Vice President Dick Cheney. “We decided we needed to do something about this, because the conservative side was not responding.”These guys have yet to figure out that the "conservative side" has been wrong about absolutely everything for the past seven years. Notwithstanding, the members of Freedom's Watch are probably the greatest benefactors of the continuous string of Bush administration screw ups.
Mr. Blakeman and Mr. Fleischer said they intended to turn Freedom’s Watch into a permanent fixture among Washington advocacy groups, waging a “never-ending campaign” on an array of foreign policy and domestic issues. They also hope to build an active, grass-roots support network.Grass-roots.... billionaires. Yeah right! And there are enough right-wing mouth-breathers who are dumb enough to buy into the idea.
Mr. Pariser, of MoveOn, said his group’s grass-roots membership — it claims 3.3 million members — was the envy of Freedom’s Watch. “I think people see that Freedom’s Watch is a few billionaires, and not a large, mainstream constituency,” he said.That's a conversation I'd really like to hear.
Mr. Blakeman denied the accusation that Freedom’s Watch is a White House front group. “I don’t need their help,” he said of his former colleagues at the White House. “I don’t seek their help. And they don’t offer it.” Mr. Blakeman is a long-time friend of Ed Gillespie, the new counselor to Mr. Bush who succeeded Dan Bartlett. Mr. Blakeman said that he speaks with Mr. Gillespie, but that they are careful not to discuss the activities of Freedom’s Watch.
Mr. Fleischer said Freedom’s Watch was not coordinating with the White House and had an agenda beyond the Bush administration. “On Jan. 21, 2009, what will these critics say when we are still here, doing the same thing?” he said. “We will still be here after George Bush is gone.”That could be wishful thinking at its finest. But more importantly, someone should remind Ari Fleischer that he isn't working for the Bush/Cheney administration anymore - he can stop lying anytime now.
I love it when the neocons try to figure out grass-roots. The concept seems to be lost on them. Grass, to take root, needs fertile ground.
Grass won't grow on a toxic waste dump.