super grover destroys government

One of the good things about Clementine being young is that I can read her almost anything I want to at bedtime. Tonight, I was reading to her from the New York Times Magazine, an article about the Bush tax strategy entitled, “Breaking the Code.” I haven’t finished it yet (she fell asleep at the first mention of “corporate loopholes”), but I wanted to run downstairs and post a link before I forgot. Check out this first paragraph on Grover Norquist. The ending is absolutely amazing.

One afternoon late last month, I paid a visit to the offices of Americans for Tax Reform, the conservative lobbying outfit headed by Grover Norquist. Though Norquist ranks among the Republican Party’s leading operators, neither he nor his organization is quite yet a household name. Outside the Beltway, he is known mainly, if at all, for the cheerfully visceral quotations that regularly appear next to his name in newspaper articles. (Shortly after the G.O.P.’s Election Day victory, Norquist mused to The Washington Post that the city might become less bitter and fractious now that the Democrats had been more or less neutered. ”Certain animals run around and are unpleasant,” he noted, ”but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and sedate.”) Inside the Beltway, however, Norquist has made his mark as a political organizer. Each Wednesday morning, more than a hundred leading conservative activists, policy pundits, talk-show producers and journalists, joined by assorted Hill staff members and White House aides, gather in Americans for Tax Reform’s conference room to discuss the issues of the day, from prescription drugs to school choice. Within Republican circles, Norquist’s job is to organize other organizations, making sure the different branches of conservatism are moving in the same direction, at the same time, to the greatest extent possible. His particular genius is for persuading one organization to reach beyond its own agenda to help out another — for getting, say, the cultural traditionalists at the Eagle Forum to join the business libertarians at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in opposing fuel-economy standards for automobiles by convincing the traditionalists that, as Norquist once explained to me, ”it’s backdoor family planning. You can’t have nine kids in the little teeny cars. And what are you going to do when you go on a family vacation?”

How evil/brilliant is that? There’s no way that I ever would have made that connection between fuel economy and large (Christian fundamentalist) families. It’s absolutely inspired… Surely there has to be someone on our side who could do the same thing, right?

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  1. Posted January 20, 2005 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    That is pretty interesting and something I’d not heard either. Isn’t the whole instituting tax reforms while bleeding the coffers dry to pay for the war in Iraq pretty much the same thing? Does this again go back to the notion that it’s easier to mobilize fairly homogenous groups of people (fundamentalist Christians) than more diverse groups with fewer shared ideas/agendas/values (progressives)?

  2. mark
    Posted January 20, 2005 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I think I’ve mentioned it before, but there’s another Norquist quote, from years ago, in which he talks about starving the government (by cutting taxes) until it’s so week that he can “drag it to the river and drown it.” (I believe it was Norquist who said that. ) The “starve the beast-ers” are a pretty extreme bunch.

  3. Dave Morris
    Posted February 3, 2005 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    The saying that I remember hearing that is attributed to Grover is about “shrinking government down to a size that we can drown it in a bathtub.” Pretty pleasant image. The imagery seems to be borrowed from the saying ” Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”.

    It would be fun to hear a psycoanalyst pick this one apart.

  4. Roe Effect
    Posted February 10, 2005 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    The problem here lies in the Roe effect, which I also blame for our latest defeat at the polls. The principle is that liberal families who support the right to choose are probably more apt to use that choice, thus lowering our overall population numbers and voting power.

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