On June 23 Grover Norquist, the Republican activist about whom I have already had occasion to write quite a bit, appeared at the liberal American Prospect, a kind of Daniel-in-the-Lions-Den experience that he evidently enjoys. His presentation and the question and answer period were very long—they may be read in their entirety at http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11699 –and I thought my readers and their friends might enjoy a summary.
Listening to Norquist—who might actually have been a student of mine at Harvard in the late 1970s, although I have never checked—one easily realizes why Republicans have been doing so well. While his anti-tax zealotry certainly seems real, he primarily seems to care about one thing, winning elections—and he assumes that Democrats are exactly the same. He listed three pillars of the Republican coalition: people who don’t want to pay taxes, people who want total freedom to own guns, and people who want the freedom to give their children a proper religious education. He is evidently uncomfortable with militant anti-gay rhetoric and would prefer to compromise on civil unions, and in fact, he disputed the idea that a referendum on gay marriage won
The Democratic Party, in Norquist’ s opinion, is composed of trial lawyers (he always leads with them), freeloaders, government bureaucrats, declining labor unions, and environmental and sexual fanatics who want to run other peoples’ lives. He does not really grapple with the issue of how such a coalition could win a plurality of the votes in 2000 and more than 48% in 2004. But he does put his finger on a critical, and for him, a very comforting Democratic fact: the most Democratic generation in the country is the GI generation (he extends them youthward to today’s 75 year olds, who were much too young to have fought in the Second World War), and about two million of them are dying every year. That, I would guess, probably was the difference between a tie vote in
What is missing from his talk is any real appreciation for what is happening to the
I was rather astonished at how gingerly Norquist’s questioners treated his potential legal difficulties involving Jack Abramoff, who told certain clients to contribute to Norquist’s organization in order to get a meeting with President Bush. No one asked him about it directly, but he tried to claim that one accusation (not that one) was off base spontaneously. But the mainstream media, as well as the American Prospect, is handling Abramoff and his influence with kid gloves. Having spent most of eight years trying to get Bill Clinton, they are absolutely determined to avoid the appearance of trying to get President Bush. Yesterday it developed that the Secret Service had released news of several more Abramoff visits to the White House, including one in 2001 in which he met with Vice President Cheney’s domestic policy adviser. That news is buried in a tiny item at the bottom of an inside page in today’s New York Times.
Karl Rove is right: there are two