Monday, November 10, 2008

Grover Norquist and the resurrection of the GOP

Resurrection implies death.

Sam Stein, writing at the Huffington Post, suggests that Grover Norquist is busily plotting the GOP's resurrection.

The Republican Party is dead! The man plotting its resurrection is the man largely responsible for its death!

Grover Norquist is famous for several things, one being his close relationship with the convicted felon/lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The two met in 1980 and began working closely with college-age Republicans. Abramoff shortly thereafter became the chairman of the College Republican National Committee. This was the breeding ground for the divisive, hateful, swift-boat style of politics endemic to the Republican Party to this day.

In 1985, Norquist formed Americans for Tax Reform. It's mission was "to oppose any effort to increase the taxes on individuals and business." In his book, Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean explains that Americans for Tax Reform accomplishes its goal by circulating "petitions to elected officials at the local, state, and national levels, asking them to promise that they will oppose all taxes. Norquist's Web site boasts that 'President George W. Bush, 222 House members, and 46 Senators have taken the pledge."

Norquist is often noted as saying, "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

For Norquist, the political arena is a battleground. He is, as many have found to their dismay, a vicious political opponent. There are few rules. Winner takes all. The ends justify the means. Dean says that he "advised 2005 conventioneers, "There are no rules in a knife fight."

In a side note, Dean explains that Norquist "views politics as war, and invokes chilling language whenever discussing political matters. In another political contest, for example, he explained, 'Our goal is to inflict as much pain as possible. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We're sending a message here. It is like the king who would take his opponents head and stick it on a spike for everyone to see."

We haven't heard a lot about Norquist lately, because, as Jonathan Weisman of the WaPo reported on July 9, 2006, he was reported to have "served as a cash conduit for disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff." Norquist was especially unhappy with John McCain because McCain's Senate Indian Affairs Committee came to the damaging conclusion that, "for a small cut, Americans for Tax Reform served as a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns."

But Grover Norquist is back. Stein puts it this way: "Hoping to pick up the pieces after an electoral drubbing, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist held one of his famous Wednesday meetings yesterday to plot out a renaissance of sorts.

"About 150 individuals were in attendance ... in addition to GOP officials calling in from 40 states. And while Norquist acknowledged that Republicans were licking their wounds a bit, he already had charted the avenues for a resurrection, much of it premised on an anticipated Democratic overreach."

That "overreach" is a Norquist vision that sees the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank bombarding Congress with programs they've waited years to put in place. We can expect, says Norquist, tax increases, a massive spending program, a government takeover of health care, etc.

Furthermore, Obama is going to have problems because the country is not up to his "to-do list." In other words, Obama may have been elected by a landslide, but the voters don't want him to do the things he said he would do while running for office.

That makes about as much sense as Norquist's cheerleading for Sarah Palin:

"McCain's choice of Palin brought his polling numbers above Obama's--until McCain endorsed the Bush bailout. Palin draws large crowds and has energized Reagan Republicans, gun owners, women and people of faith. Obama knows this and has his surrogates trashing Palin with a 'sack the quarterback' strategy most recently joined in by Colin Powell. She is an asset and the most consequential VP candidate in a generation."

Or not.

Back during the first of the year, Norquist's comments showed how badly he misread the American people. He said that "Barack Obama has been able to create his own image and introduce himself to voters, but the swing voters in a general election are not paying attention yet. He is open to being defined as a leftwing, corrupt Chicago politician."

Notice that the notion of telling the truth never enters Norquist's mind. The ends justify the means. Norquist and the tribe with which he travels are amoral.

It's very likely that McCain picked up much of his campaign strategy from Norquist's ethically-challenged approach, for Norquist goes on to suggest that "Republicans can teach people who don't know him [Obama] who he is."

Norquist further promotes the idea that Obama's associations can bring him down, especially his association with Antoin "Tony" Rezko and William Ayers. The McCain campaign bought into both of those ideas, although the strategy failed in the end.

Grover Norquist has shown himself to be strident, hot-headed, unethical, and vicious. He has also been very wrong.

Now, he's taking after George W. Bush, who he believes, along with millions of other co-called conservatives, has almost single-handedly decimated the Republican Party. Bush, these folks say, was not "conservative" enough. He ignored basic conservative principles, such as small government.

Stein again: "Arguing that every president has a certain amount of 'bandwidth' with which to work, the head of American's for Tax Reform chastised Bush for 'deciding to take five years to be the mayor of Baghdad instead of the United States.'"

That must be especially hurtful to the president for it was Mr. Norquist who put him in the Oval Office in 2004!

And that is an especially interesting story. Norquist played an instrumental role in the 2000 election by mobilizing the Muslim community in the United States (and especially Florida) to vote for Bush.

The story is told by Craig Unger in House of Bush, House of Saud.

Unger writes that "Republicans had just woken up to the fact that there were roughly 7 million Muslims in America -- a huge pool of voters who had largely been ignored by both political parties. To remedy that, Bush campaign strategist Grover Norquist came up with an aggressive plan to win them over by making alliances with groups run by Islamic fundamentalists. He invented the notion of a Muslim-American electoral bloc."

And Norquist was the right man for the job. "...Norquist was a founding member of the Islamic Institute, a nonprofit foundation promoting Muslim political movements. His Muslim partner, Khaled Saffuri, was deputy director for the American Muslim Council (AMC) and had an extensive network of contacts with other Muslim-American leaders."

As the story proceeds, it becomes more detailed and more complicated, but suffice it to say that Norquist went to bed with a number of shady characters, not a few of which were connected with the funding of Islamic terrorism. And many were virulently anti-Semtic. For example: "At a 1998 rally sponsored by CAIR [Council on American Islamic Relations - funded in part by Saudi Arabia and the American Muslim Council] ... five hundred people sang a song with the lyrics 'No to the Jews, descendants of apes.'"

The American Muslim Council is not benign, either. "Eric Vickers, executive director [of AMC] has refused to denounce any terror group practicing suicide bombing in the Middle East and has even declined to denounce Al Qaeda, calling it a 'resistance movement.'"

Bush and Norquist "aggressively pursued the Islamists in hopes of winning their endorsements. In appearances on TV, Bush and fellow campaign staffers referred not just to churches and synagogues as places of worship, but to mosques as well. Again and again, Governor Bush sought out meetings with Muslim leaders -- often without looking into their backgrounds."

Bush invited the founder of the AMC, Abdurahman Alamoudi to the governor's mansion in Austin, even though Alamoudi was "A self-proclaimed supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah... [and] reportedly attended a terrorist summit in Beirut later in 2000 with leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda.

"But such a militant background did not keep Alamoudi away from Norquist and Bush. According to an article by Frank Gaffney, Alamoudi wrote two checks for $10,000 each, one an apparent loan, to help found Norquist's Islamic Institute."

Then there's the problem of Bush palling around with Sami Al-Arian, an associate professor at the University of South Florida, but "under investigation by the FBI for his associations with Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian terrorist group." Al-Arian had a number of other questionable connections also, and Newsweek claimed he was tied to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

In 1998, as a guest speaker at the AMC, "Al-Arian referred to Jews as 'monkeys and pigs' and added, 'Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel. Revolution! Revolution! Until victory! Rolling, rolling to Jerusalem!'"

There are many more connects between Norquist and Bush and the Islamic community. It was a matter of getting elected and in that situation they both operated from the viewpoint that "anything goes."

And it worked! While it took the Supreme Court to hand Bush the election in the end, it was the battle in Florida that worked magic for the Bushites. And that magic was largely Muslim magic. "According to an exit poll of Muslims in Florida conducted by the American Muslim Alliance, 91 percent voted for Bush, 8 percent for Ralph Nader, and one 1 percent for Al Gore. Likewise, the Tampa Bay Islamic Center estimated that fifty-five thousand Muslims in Florida voted and that 88 percent of them favored Bush. All of which meant that the margin of victory for Bush among Florida Muslims was many, many times greater than his tiny statewide margin of victory of 537 voted."

Norquist wrote in the extremist American Spectator, that "George W. Bush was elected President of the United States of America because of the Muslim vote ... That's right, the Muslim vote."

Or, as Craig Unger puts it: "In other words, without the mobilization of the Saudi-funded Islamic groups, George W. Bush would not be president today."

One major question kept popping up in my mind as I researched this article: Why would Norquist be so interested and involved in pro-Islamic groups? I can understand why he would mobilize the Muslim vote for Bush - he wanted to win the election. But his Muslim connects began before that.

I still don't know the answer. But here's a hint or a clue or something - I guess it's whatever you make of it.

Daniel Pipes (Yikes!) wrote an article back on October 1, 2005, the title of which was, "Is Grover Norquist an Islamist?"

He quotes Paul Sperry, author of the book, Infiltration, saying that Grover Norquist is "an agent of influence for Islamists in Washington." In an interview with, Sperry was asked "why a Republican anti-tax lobbyist should so passionately promote Islamist causes." Sperry suggested that Norquist had converted to Islam.

"He's marrying a Muslim, and when I asked Norquist if he himself has converted to Islam, he brushed the question off as too 'personal.'"

And Norquist did marry a Muslim, one Samah Alrayyes, a Palestinian, on April 2, 2005. Pipes says that "Alrayyes (now known as Samah Norquist) has radical Islamic credentials of her own; she served as communications director at the Islamic Free Market Institute, the Islamist organization Norquist helped found. Now [in 2005], she is employed as a public affairs officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development. ... "

While I'm one of those who believes that whatever Daniel Pipes says must be taken with several grains of salt, a number of other sources have referred to Norquist's marriage and Islamic ties. A number of other sources have also suggested that because it is impossible or highly unlikely that a non-Muslim man can be married to a Muslim woman, Norquist must have converted to Islam.

The point of all this is that when push comes to shove, Grover Norquist is a scumbag who will do whatever is necessary to achieve his objectives at the moment. That judgment is clearly appropriate for as we've seen, he has allied himself closely with Islamist organizations which were tied to either the funding of terrorism or the acts of terrorism, in order to win an election for the Republican Party and the Saudi's best friend, G. W. Bush. Now, after serving as one of G.W.'s point men for years, he's dumping all over the president.

And I have no problem with that, in and of itself. Bush needs to be dumped on! But if the Republican Party allows this amoral hack to have anything whatsoever to do with its reconstruction following it's decimation in the election of a few days ago, it will confirm to the world it has no soul, no integrity, no vision, and offers nothing but misery and despair to the American people.

The Republican Party, for the moment is dead. And one of the main reasons it is dead is Grover Norquist. If he is called to preside at its resurrection, he may put flesh on its bones, but it will still be dead, for he represents all of its failed philosophies and faulty policies.

Or, as Christy Hardin Smith put it a few weeks ago:

"What we are seeing this election cycle is a wholesale rejection of what Norquist has birthed within the Republican party, along with fellow cronies Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff and their selfish ilk. We are all reaping the fetid, stale, whirlwind sown by republicans..."

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