SOROS ON THE SIDELINES…. I suspect in the minds of many conservatives, George Soros remains a dangerous boogeyman, who’s secretly working with ACORN to help Democrats salvage the midterm elections.

But ACORN is long gone, and Soros has decided to “sit out” this election cycle altogether.

“I made an exception getting involved in 2004,” Mr. Soros, 80, said in a brief interview Friday at a forum sponsored by the Bretton Woods Committee, which promotes understanding of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“And since I didn’t succeed in 2004, I remained engaged in 2006 and 2008. But I’m basically not a party man. I’d just been forced into that situation by what I considered the excesses of the Bush administration.”

Mr. Soros, a champion of liberal causes, has been directing his money to groups that work on health care and the environment, rather than electoral politics. Asked if the prospect of Republican control of one or both houses of Congress concerned him, he said: “It does, because I think they are pushing the wrong policies, but I’m not in a position to stop it. I don’t believe in standing in the way of an avalanche.”

I’m not sure what that means. Soros is (a) concerned about health care and environment; (b) convinced the far-right Republican Party will have a detrimental effect on the issues he cares about; and (c) sitting out the elections anyway.

What people do with their money is obviously their business, and if Soros wants to stay on the sidelines, that’s his call. But the reasoning here escapes me. Soros wants to see U.S. advances on health care and environmental policy, but he doesn’t want to make investments to at least try to protect his own chosen priorities?

Jon Chait suggested that Soros may just have “a desire not to be associated with defeat.” Perhaps. But Soros was involved in 2004, John Kerry lost, and Soros kept with it for the next two cycles. The country — and Soros’ principal goals– were better for it.

If he had reason to believe Republican majorities would be fine when it came to health care and the environmental policies, I could see why someone like Soros could justify a passive, lackadaisical attitude. But if he’s genuinely worried, watching this unfold without lifting a finger is hard to understand.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.