It wouldn’t just be his speech. Soros was one of three panelists speaking about a new edition of The Constitution of Liberty, the most enduring book by the libertarian economist Freidrich von Hayek. The editor of the new edition, Ronald Hamowy, was tasked with introducing the experts, moderating questions, and keeping the whole thing from becoming a circus. He eyed the audience warily, hopefully.
The worry was that someone would show up at the panel and decide to confront George Soros, philosophical dabbler, with George Soros, the nightmare figure who shows up on Fox News prime time the way Emmanuel Goldstein showed up at the Two Minutes Hate. Soros, who made his billions in international finance, has funded many of the new institutions of the professional left since George W. Bush started seeking re-election. He seeded ACT, a get-out-the-vote project that didn’t quite work in 2004, and then he helped fund the Center for American Progress ($3 million) and Media Matters for America ($1 million, only last year). Entering politics, he became a political target. He’s the sort of billionaire whose website has to include a FAQ about where he was when the Nazis invaded Eastern Europe, because someone who Googles his name and “collaborator” gets a lot of false results.