George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist, Democratic political donor, and GOP boogeyman, called Barack Obama his “greatest disappointment” in a recent interview for the New York Times Magazine and accused the former president of “clos[ing] the door” on him after winning the election.
The comments, appearing in a feature published Tuesday, were not meant to criticize Obama’s accomplishments but bemoan Soros’ own lack of political influence during the Obama administration.
“He made one phone call thanking me for my support, which was meant to last for five minutes,” Soros said. “He was someone who was known from the time when he was competing for the editorship of The Harvard Law Review to take his supporters for granted and to woo his opponents.”
Soros, an oft-invoked villain for the right, also walked back some of the language he used to criticize George W. Bush’s presidency, when, Soros said, he was afraid the administration was using the war on terror to foster fear in the American public and discourage dissent, in ways that he said echoed Nazi tactics (Soros is Jewish and survived Nazi occupation in Hungary, contrary to baseless right-wing claims that he had Nazi sympathies). “That was probably a mistake,” he said about the Nazi comments.
For such a hated figure among conservatives, Soros expressed a lot of support for centrism and bipartisanship in the profile. Soros donated more than $25 million to Democratic candidates and causes during the 2016 election cycle, but he now says that Trump has not been as disastrous a president as he feared and that he hopes both major parties become more centrist. Instead of dreams of Democratic domination, he said it was instead the Republican party’s swing toward extremism that pushed him to donate to their opposition. “I don’t particularly want to be a Democrat,” he said.
Soros continues to donate to liberal causes, giving at least $15 million to support Democratic candidates and causes before the midterms. But he said he wouldn’t be opposed to donating to moderate Republicans, such as Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. “I shouldn’t say that,” he told the New York Times Magazine. “That would hurt them.”