Democratic Underground  

Grover Gets His Wish
July 31, 2003
By Mike Hickerson

It starts innocently, as all mornings do, fresh like the new dawn that precedes it. But this Wednesday is different. As he has been doing for several years, Grover Norquist Jr. leads the Wednesday morning confab of conservative advisors, journalists and pundits who basically plan out the united front talking points of the republican political machine. This Wednesday in 1997 noted conservative prostitute Laura Ingraham is not present. She has been disinvited by Norquist, who while publicly scolding Ingraham uttered a phrase that later was written into modern lexicon of American thought by GW Bush: "You're either with us or against us." It was at a conservative event known as Dark Ages Weekend and Ingraham had committed the cardinal sin of suggesting Senator Dan Burton (R, Indiana) resign from his post. Here was a man that the Justice Department was after for shaking down a lobbyist, a man who denounced Fidel Castro as a "tyrant" while receiving contributions from a lobbyist for African kleptocrat Mobutu Sese Seko. But he was a staunch loyalist to Grover Norquist

Fast forward to Sacramento, California July 24, 2003. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announces he has certified enough petition signatures to allow the Recall of Gov. Gray Davis to go forward. It's the culmination of concerted attacks upon California by the Bush Administration that began in January of 2000. Grover Norquist has essentially, gotten his wish. The "Uniter not Divider" rhetoric of the Bush White House has worn transparently thin. The Federal Government under Bush has, via tax cuts and mandates (unfunded) and myriad cuts in Federal programs of assistance to states, created an intentional fiscal crisis of confidence in the most populous states leadership. It is no coincidence that the most populous states are Blue ones. Speaking in an interview in the Denver Post, Norquist proudly stated his parties' intent, displaying the hubris the right wing in power has become known for. "We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals -- and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship," he tells the Denver Post. "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape."

A couple of timely quotes from recent news articles makes the "California strategy" apparent:

"As it pushes to reopen parts of California to drilling, however, the Bush administration recently announced plans to protect Florida's coast by spending $120 million to buy oil and gas rights in the Everglades and $115 million to pay oil companies to stop drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration has rejected requests from California Gov. Gray Davis to extend the same protections to the Golden State, prompting Davis to pledge Monday to use the courts to fight efforts to build the first new oil platforms off California's coast since 1994." Sacramento Bee, 4/2003

"Obviously, the electoral victory is what you're after, but there are frankly strategic victories short of that," said Rob Stutzman, spokesman for the state Republican Party. Contra Costa Times, 8/11/02

Yet, to give you an idea of the narrowness of Norquist's appeal, one need only look within his own party's media talking heads for opinion:

"a small-minded Harvard squeak-by who preys on minorities, gays and anyone else who doesn't fit into your delusional, power hungry world." Jeff Koopersmith in American Politics Journal

"...Norquist is a mean-spirited, humorless, dishonest little creep. But in my experience, there aren't many Grovers in positions of prominence on the Right, and virtually none in conservative journalism. Which is why I wrote a piece about him in the first place, because he's an embarrassing anomaly, the leering, drunken uncle everyone else wishes would stay home. Norquist is repulsive, granted, but there aren't nearly enough of him to start a purge trial." -- Tucker Carlson in Slate

These pundits have become strangely silent on the subject of Norquist of late.

At Harvard, Norquist was a powermonger. One of his MBA papers outlined a plan for the National College Republicans to switch from a social club to an ideological, grassroots organization. It was here he met Ralph Reed. Together they implemented his plan and went on to crusade for moral majorities, Pat Robertson, and Ronald Reagan. Norquist founded "Americans for Tax Reform" in 1985 to push what would become the 1986 tax simplification plan. It also proved an excellent money laundry for Republican donor squishy money, notably doing mailers with republican talking points days before an election, in violation of the groups non profit status.

Norquist, in his deferential "simple way" invented a one-page statement for legislators promising they'd never vote to increase marginal tax rates and never vote to eliminate tax loopholes without simultaneously supporting equivalent reductions in marginal tax rates. This "Offer not to be refused" reminiscent of the Godfather's contracts, was signed while Norquist or an "Americans for Tax Reform" staffer witnesses every signature, and once a politician takes the pledge, that person is bound for life per the terms of the "agreement" LIFE!

In early 2000 he claimed in the American Spectator magazine that Muslims were responsible for President Bush's election victory. He has made the conversion of the Muslim vote, if you will, to a Republican vote one of his top priority issues. He's already founding director of what's called the Islamic Institute, which you won't be surprised to learn has received funds from a Saudi charity that was raided by the FBI earlier this year. Grover has also ushered into the White House a passel of anti-Israel groups, including the Council on American Islamic Affairs, The American Muslim Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and others. (Mark Krikorian, CIS, 2001) It is quite possible these cozy relationships and their ultimate leaderships are among the blacked out portions of the just released 9-11 report.

For Norquist's hard-right Republicans, killing off government to make way for corporate rule is truly at the core of the so-called "conservative agenda." "I don't want to abolish government," Norquist told National Public Radio's Mara Liasson in a May 25, 2001 Morning Edition interview. "I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Nowhere is this more evident than in California, where recall movement sponsors are openly purchasing this attempt to overturn the election of 2002, using paid out of state professional signature gatherers. Norquist points out what the true agenda of such radical leadership actually means to the state. It's an echo of the Bush Department of the Interior's stated policy of "privatizing" public lands.

In an Interview with Bill Moyers, Norquist stated "At the state level what they really have to do is take a long run view and limit the growth of spending, put limits on how much you spend. And then California, the state owns a whole bunch of land and other things that it could sell off it doesn't need, and it needs to figure out which of those government jobs need to be in government, and what can be privatized or contracted out." A whole bunch of land and things it doesn't need. One has to ask, who, or what company, does?

Moyers then asked "What the states are saying, though, is that since they get no direct aid, the conservative philosophy in government is actually pushing them over the cliff now." Norquist's reply laid it all out for those willing to see:

"I would argue if you look at those states that have conservative governments, and there are only a few: Colorado, Florida --you're looking at states that are in fairly good shape. We have Reagan-ized the Republican Party at the national level over the last 20 years. It has not happened at the state level. What happened at the national level was pre-Reagan we couldn't go to a Republican politician and say, you should be more...they say I should be more what? I'm better than the Democrat I beat, what do you want from me? You should be more like Goldwater, he lost. After Reagan he was the model for House and Senate people, and today 95 percent of House Republicans and 80 percent of Senate Republicans are Reagan Republicans. That does not yet exist at the state level."

It is important that those fighting the recall movement in California recognize what we are up against. The genesis of Norquist's slash and burn scorched earth political strategies are part and parcel of his beliefs. David Brock, in "Blinded By the Right" describes Norquist's viewpoint:

"Like his fellow radical conservatives, Norquist believed politics was an extension of WAR by other means." Far afield from the "positive attributes of Classical conservatism" as Brock puts it, "a sense of limits, fair play, Tory civility, and respect for individual freedom" is replaced with a single minded focus on power and the wielding of it against your enemy until they are obliterated. One imagines Norquist burning the houses and salting the fields of notable liberals were he given sufficient latitude. This revolutionary zeal is best derived, Norquist believes, by studying the life of Antonio Gramsci, who through employment of this philosophy, single handedly built up the Italian Communist party in the face of the Fascist movement. While imprisoned by the Fascists, he began a series of writings that became a blueprint for political action amongst every left-wing revolutionary movement on the planet, and additionally the movement of the right wing in America by Grover Norquist.

So, as you and your friends will discover between now and "New election Day" 2003 in California, this is far beyond a local skirmish; it is the first battle against an encroaching well oiled Borg of anti-people interests whose agenda is to weaken government until it cannot fight the power of corporations. The political version of the fire ant, don't expect this gang to just crawl back under their rocks should they go down to defeat. They thrive on the struggle, and will not cease until they stop breathing.

If they win, be on the lookout for another coup attempt at a statehouse near you.

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