In 2004, Houston multimillionaire Bob Perry was the largest donor to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In 2006, he’s using his money to “swift boat” MoveOn.org.
Perry’s given $1 million this cycle to the Free Enterprise Fund’s “Stop MoveOn.org” campaign, which is running television ads attacking the online organization. Both ads try to link MoveOn to “radical billionaire George Soros,” who appears in the spots looking like a crazed burglar.
“MoveOn.org has a radical agenda of tax increases, expanding the welfare state, global governance and socialized government run healthcare,” reads a Free Enterprise Fund fundraising pitch. “And since they already own the Democrat [sic] Party, they now want to buy Congress and put their puppets in power.”
(Like the Swift Boat Vets, accuracy has never been a strong point of the Free Enterprise Fund. An ad they ran about the estate tax was called “blatantly false” by FactCheck.org.)
MoveOn has become a convenient scapegoat for desperate right-wingers. If only the group had as much clout as conservatives imagine. “They present us as the all-powerful puppeteer of the Democratic Party,” jokes MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser. “We wish.”
But MoveOn has been effective, which is the real reason it is attracting so much scorn from the right. The Free Enterprise Fund admits as much. “Before MoveOn.org’s ads [Congresswoman] Thelma Drake in Virginia had a 9% point lead,” the fundraising letter states. “This race is now dead even.”
In April MoveOn began running a series of ads tying four vulnerable GOP Representatives–Drake, Chris Chocola, Deborah Pryce and Nancy Johnson–to corporate welfare and Republican corruption. The negative ratings of the Republicans rose and their leads began to vanish. Even Majority Leader John Boehner admitted that the ads “certainly have had some impact.” The group recently targeted three more GOP Congressmen: Charlie Bass, Randy Kuhl and John Sweeney.
And MoveOn’s going beyond the ad market to try and get-out-the-vote for progressive Democratic candidates in the final weeks before the midterms. The group hopes its 3.2 million members will make 5 million phone calls to prospective Democratic voters in 30+ targeted House and Senate races. They’ve dumped $4 million into the “Call for Change” program, making it one of their most ambitious projects yet.
If MoveOn’s successful this November, expect the Right to pay even closer attention.