Grover Norquist appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 yesterday to defend the budget deal, trying to paint his pet “congressmen and senators” as innocent of wrongdoing, while simultaneously trying to paint President Obama as an enemy of liberty. Because in Grover Norquist’s universe, Democrats are enemies of liberty and Republicans are champions of liberty. All else must fit into that model. Anything not congenial to it must be discarded. Like facts.
Last night, Norquist seemed to undermine some of Obama’s staunchest opponents on Capitol Hill when he tweeted,
The Bush tax cuts lapsed at midnight last night. Every R voting for Senate bill is cutting taxes and keeping his/her pledge.
— Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) January 2, 2013
At least one reader seemed to notice this and tweeted in response,
@GroverNorquist everyone republican who is voting for this measure is punching you square in the mouth. hope your ears bleed.
And another had this to say,
@GroverNorquist Whatever helps you feel in control, buddy!
So you can see what sort of thinking Norquist was up against with the pending deal in the House. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. But as I’ve pointed out before, nobody is better with relativism than conservatives.
So with his broad brush, Norquist used his opportunity with Cooper to paint Democrats as evil spendthrifts while ignoring the long record of Republican spending all the way back to Eisenhower, and growth of government under presidents like Reagan. Reality cannot be allowed to intrude upon his neat division of Republican sainthood and Democratic demonism.
Norquist even managed to redefine compromise as not a settlement of differences between two people who disagree but as an agreement between two people who already agree. Compromise of principles is apparently allowed by dictionaries but not by Grover Norquist. Under Norquist, the word loses all meaning and value. And it must: otherwise, he can’t have his cake and eat it too.
Watch, courtesy of CNN:
Cooper: You said the voting for this deal, which increases the taxes on households earning more than $450,000 annually, would not violate your pledge that lawmakers make to their constituents. Help our viewers understand that, because lawmakers who have signed that pledge promised to oppose any effort to increase income tax rates for individuals, for businesses. So how does the fiscal cliff deal not violate that pledge?
Norquist: It’s technically not a violation of the pledge but I understand why a lot of republicans have said ‘ Look, even though what’s happening is the tax cuts disappear, and we’re restoring them for most people so we’re not raising taxes. We’re actually cutting taxes.’
Cooper: You’re saying because the Bush tax cuts have expired yesterday. So, basically they expired yesterday, so technically these are still tax cuts (in the Senate bill)?
Norquist: Correct. Now, I understand that if you’re a congressman or senator you’ve gotta go out and convince not me, that you’ve technically not violated the pledge; you have to convince your constituents. The promise that congressmen and senators make is to their voters, to their state, not to me, not to Americans for Tax Reform, not to anybody else; to their voters. And they have to be able to say with a straight face they fought to protect those tax cuts for everyone. And all the Republicans in the House have done that more than once. And that they’re fighting to oppose any and all tax increases period. I think you can look your voters in the face and say, we voted to protect them for everybody. The Democrats won the senate and wouldn’t pass that bill. The president’s in the White house, he would veto that bill. Here’s the best we can do right now and we’ll continue to fight for everybody going forward.
Cooper: Is compromise really that dirty a word, though? For this country to move forward, for things to actually work, is this a good system, is it good to constantly have this brinkmanship, these battles that go late into the night? This is just the beginning of it. This isn’t even the end of it. Critics say your pledge limits the flexibility Congress might otherwise have to make compromise.
Norquist: Okay, define compromise, okay? Richard Nixon and Ted Kennedy could compromise very easily. Richard Nixon wanted the government to get bigger and Ted Kennedy wanted the government to get much bigger. And they compromise every year somewhere between bigger and much bigger. And each one said, see, I did the best I could.
Today, however, we have two parties that are no longer regional parties, North vs. South, but actually committed to principles. The Democrats have an expansive view of government; they want higher taxes in order to spend more money. Republicans want lower taxes and spending less money. If somebody wants to go east and somebody wants to go west, what would a compromise be?
I’m in favor of compromising in the direction of liberty. We have a compromise in 2011. Republicans wanted to cut spending 6 trillion dollars (the Ryan Plan) and we agreed to 2.5 trillion dollars in spending cuts. That was a compromise. We wanted more spending, we got less because Obama wouldn’t support more spending reduction. So we can have compromise in the direction of liberty, but raising taxes and spending more money which is what Obama wants to do is moving away from liberty. That’s not compromising for the American people. That’s losing.
Cooper: But you’re painting it in extraordinarily stark terms.
Norquist: Well, the two parties are extraordinarily…want to go in two different ways, if you want bigger government vs. smaller government….
Norquist has his routine all figured out. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. His pledgers caved; Obama won. Norquist can’t have that. His employees remained true to his pledge, which he falsely characterizes as a pledge to the American people and not to him personally, and did the best they could in defense of liberty, while the dastardly Obama and the Democrats want to raise taxes and spend, spend, spend.
This is just one of those things Republicans say to feel better about themselves at this point. As Jason Easley wrote here yesterday, President Obama got a big win. He owned the Republicans. As Sarah Jones pointed out, most Republicans seem aware of this and blame Boehner. The one constant is Obama as the enemy of liberty. Yeah, tell us something we haven’t heard before.
Look, Obama is a black man. He is going to remain a black man. We voted for him. Twice. You guys have to get over this.
Let’s face it folks: as long as this sort of thinking prevails in the Republican Party, there is very little hope for America going forward, at least until we can weed the crazies out of the House, and that might take awhile thanks to redistricting. They have redefined American history back to the Revolution and since Bush they have been busily redefining our language. What chance does reality have in the face of this wishful-thinking, against such reckless hate?
But Grover Norquist, no matter how he tries to paint the events of yesterday, lost, and lost big. One tweet last night said it all:
@GroverNorquist you are so full of shit. This tweet is so you. This is laughable https://twitter.com/GroverNorquist/status/286318323216564224 …
Meanwhile, this was Norquist’s parting shot:
gdnight. When Dems wake up they will realize they just made most of the Bush tax cuts permanent and lost their leverage for the next 4 yrs.
— Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) January 2, 2013
I have to agree with the person who tweeted back to Norquist that he is an idiot, and he failed. As Ezra Klein observed last night, Norquist fought “like hell then declare[d] victory rather than lamenting concessions.”
We hate to keep going back to Monty Python and the characterization of lopped limbs as “flesh wounds” but sadly, that is all the GOP is leaving us. The alternative is to accept reality and admit defeat, and that they can never, ever, do. All the bankrupt GOP has to offer America and Americans at this point is sleight of hand. Get ready for a steady diet of hot air in 2013.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.
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