The New Yorker has a great long read in its current issue about the rise of Hungary’s autocratic ruler Viktor Orban, with whom the American extremist right wing (especially Fox News) has an ongoing love affair.
The article, by Andrew Marantz, contains many interesting and/or troubling things I did not know before, including the fact that Orban’s rise to dictatorial power was assisted by none other than well-known GOP consultant Arthur Finkelstein. More on him later.
[Orban] enlisted Arthur Finkelstein, a political consultant from Brooklyn who had worked to elect Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and Ronald Reagan, among others. “Try to polarize the election around that issue which cuts best in your direction, i.e., drugs, crime, race,” Finkelstein wrote in a 1970 memo to the Nixon White House. In 1996, Finkelstein put this principle to work on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu, a candidate for Prime Minister of Israel who was then about twenty points down in the polls, and who started alleging that his opponent, Shimon Peres, planned to divide Jerusalem. This was a lie, but it stuck, and Netanyahu won. In 2008, Netanyahu introduced Finkelstein to his friend Orbán; Finkelstein became so indispensable that Orbán reportedly came to refer to him, dotingly, as Finkie. One of Finkelstein’s protégés later told the Swiss journalist Hannes Grassegger, “Arthur always said that you did not fight against the Nazis but against Adolf Hitler.” Orbán had been running against globalism, multiculturalism, bureaucracy in Brussels. These were abstractions. By 2013, Finkelstein had an epiphany: the face of the enemy should be George Soros.
Finkelstein, who died in 2017, became famous for being Jewish and homosexual, all while he made a career of helping to elect gay-hating anti-Semites. After years of rumors, he was fully outed as being gay in 2005:
Arthur J. Finkelstein, a prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the United States and Israel over the last 25 years, said Friday that he had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts.
Mr. Finkelstein, 59, who has made a practice of defeating Democrats by trying to demonize them as liberal, said in a brief interview that he had married his partner of 40 years to ensure that the couple had the same benefits available to married heterosexual couples.
“I believe that visitation rights, health care benefits and other human relationship contracts that are taken for granted by all married people should be available to partners,” he said.
He declined further comment on the wedding, which was in December.
Some of Mr. Finkelstein’s associates said they were startled to learn that this prominent American conservative had married a man, given his history with the party, especially at a time when many Republican leaders, including President Bush, have campaigned against same-sex marriage and proposed amending the Constitution to ban it. Mr. Finkelstein has been allied over the years with Republicans who have fiercely opposed gay rights measures, including former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and has been the subject of attacks by gay rights activists who have accused him of hypocrisy.
“Accused him of hypocrisy.”
Your mainstream media, always trying to downplay or both-sides a charge that is plain for everyone with eyes and a brain to see.
Late in life, Finkelstein made wan efforts at rehabilitation by ruefully admitting he knew he had lived a terrible life helping terrible people. He is no doubt roasting in Hell if there is such a place.