Norquist Looks Ahead

As screwed up as things are in Congress right now, it’s natural that nobody much wants to contemplate how much more screwed up things might be after the November elections unless one party or the other emerges with united control and something of a mandate. So it was interesting to read an interview Nancy Cook of National Journal conducted with everybody’s favorite right-wing commissar, power-broker and demagogue, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, about post-election scenarios:

NORQUIST: If the Republicans have the House, Senate, and the presidency, I’m told that they could do an early budget vote—a reconciliation vote where you extend the Bush tax cuts out for a decade or five years…. then they pass the [Paul] Ryan plan [on Medicare].

NJ: What if the Democrats still have control? What’s your scenario then?

NORQUIST: Obama can sit there and let all the tax [cuts] lapse, and then the Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach.

Yes, “impeach.”

Now you have to appreciate that Grover is probably feeling a little long in the tooth lately, and perhaps impatient. With all the back-and-forth over who said and did what during the administration of St. Ronald Reagan, it’s bound to make him think back to his salad days in the early 1980s, when he was swaggering around Washington with a bumper sticker on his briefcase that read “I’d rather be killing commies,” an allusion to his pastime of hanging out with “freedom fighters” being backed by South Africa’s apartheid regime. Or perhaps he’s fondly remembering the later period when he was famous for harassing state legislatures and city councils to name things after Reagan.

Some of Grover’s more recent projects haven’t gone so well. One of his proudest accomplishments was dreaming up the Bush/DeLay-era “K Street Project” (memorably explained here at the Monthly by Nicholas Confessore); now Rick Santorum is taking flack from Republicans for his complicity in that shady scheme. And then there was Norquist’s effort to turn Muslim-Americans into a pro-Republican voting bloc (viz. the recent candidate debate in Florida, when a question from a Palestinian-American voter launched several of the would-be presidents into a lather of Muslim-bashing).

But when it comes to taxes and the long-term drive to “starve the beast” of the New Deal/Great Society legacy, Norquist still walks tall in the GOP. So when he lays out getting rid of Medicare as we know it, or a drive to impeach Barack Obama, as strong alternative possibilities for the years just ahead, we should probably pay attention.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.