Grover Norquist Calls for a Humbler Foreign Policy that Rejects Bush/Cheney-style Empire


I have many liberal friends who are not into Grover Norquist — but my policy is to reach out to all parties across the political spectrum to try and balance against the incredibly destructive influence of pugnacious nationalists like John Bolton and neoconservatives like Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and William Kristol.

Grover Norquist makes an appeal to his Republican friends to get sane again on foreign policy in this video clip my colleagues and I encouraged him to do for the Better World Campaign‘s “On Day One” collage of public personalities talking about what the next President and team should do on their first day.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “Grover Norquist Calls for a Humbler Foreign Policy that Rejects Bush/Cheney-style Empire

  1. David says:

    One other thought on Grover Norquist’s fantasy mindset: What he is actually trying to drown in his bathtub is the United States of America. He fails to understand that the federal government is the USA, and we enjoy whatever rights, privileges, human comforts, and opportunities we have because of its existence, not in spite of its existence. Were he fighting for a more perfect union under a more fully evolved government of, by, and for the people, I could embrace him as a public-spirited person. But he is not. He is fighting for some kind of private bubble world. Yes, Thoreau said correctly that that government governs best that governs least, but he also said that that is what kind of government we will have when we are capable of living under same. But Thoreau was offering important comments to the national discussion – nothing more, nothing less. And he was a genuine champion of the obligations of political conscience.
    I assume Grover Norquist is of a Libertarian disposition, as is P.J. O’Rourke. The libertarianism of which I am aware is more of a cult than a comprehensive, insightful political understanding. As a Democrat, I of course do not belong to an organized party, nor are there any ideological tests which I must pass. I am a Democrat because I am registered as a Democrat. I am not an acolyte, a disciple, a true believer, or a category. I belong to the broadest political party in America, am essentially a New Dealer, but an appreciator, not a worshipper. And I understand FDR’s shortcomings, but I also recognize that he is a contender for the greatest president in American history, and one of the reasons is that he was not an ideologue – he was a liberal in the best sense of that word who led the federal government as is led the nation through one of its darkest times, and he did it as well as it could be done, I think, and left us a freer, wholer, more decent nation than we were when he took office, at the same time that Hitler was burying Germany in a Nazi hellhole. And Harry Truman enabled the resurrection of Germany, Japan, and Italy as decent and honorable members of the international community.
    George Bush is a fallen Libertarian/religious zealot in the worst sense of both of those words. And Grover Norquist, while not personally responsible for the debacle in which we find ourselves, is an articulator/agitator/ideological leader who has enabled the infliction of this debacle on America by folks in government with the authority to royally screw things up, and they have. More than anything else, Grover Norquist needs to apologize and then retire until he can find insight, not ideology, particularly not such misguided ideology.


  2. TokyoTom says:

    Steve, even as I agree with Grover’s words, he still richly deserves our opprobrium – and not support – for his DEEDS in enabling what have been a very destructive eight years.
    Sorry, but I have a hard time understanding why Grover or others who failed to stand up to the Administration when it mattered should be given a soapbox now by which they can try to redeem themselves by pretending that they have no responsibility for what they themselves wrought – which of course includes a monstrous growth of government that we can hardly expect Democrats to move aggresively to dismantle.
    No only do I have no sympathy for Grover, I can hardly stand listening to his unrequited hypocrisy. He and other neocon supporters need to spend some time wandering in the wilderness and doing some penance before they can presume to have any credibility.
    Can you point me to where Grover has shown the slightest remorse?


  3. David says:

    Grover lives in an intellectual fantasy land and apparently has no ability to understand much of anything in its proper perspective. His is the mindset of a fundamentalist religious acolyte, and can result in some pretty bizarre “thinking.” I am beginning to suspect that anything he gets right is a consequence of the blind pig/acorn phenomenon.


  4. Dirk says:

    I heard that interview as well Pauline and I was stunned. This cretin’s ideology is one of the most inimical forces affecting domestic policy in this country today. He has made governing in many states unmanageable through his “no new taxes” pledge.
    On foreign policy, his job was to bring in the Arab vote for the GOP. I believe he was a target in the Green Quest investigations or managed to derail them.


  5. kaitlin says:

    You won’t embrace Bolton, but you’ll chummy up to Ken Adelman? You have no shame.


  6. pauline says:

    flashblack to —
    Wednesday, October 8, 2003 by
    Terry Gross, Grover Norquist and the Holocaust
    by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
    Terry Gross has a syndicated show on National Public Radio. It’s called “Fresh Air.”
    As a guest last week, Gross had on Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform and the reputed architect of President Bush’s tax cuts.
    One of Terry Gross’ first questions to Grover Norquist was this one:
    “Now the Bush tax cuts would cost us about $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years, and we’re going to be hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. At the same time, the president wants $87 billion to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you think we’re in a tough spot, needing a lot of money, to rebuild those two countries at the same time that we’re cutting taxes?
    And here’s Grover Norquist’s answer:
    “Well, there’s a very interesting use of the word ‘we.’ Every time you use the word ‘we,’ you meant the government, and I tend to use the word ‘we’ to mean the American people and to speak of the government as the government. So when the government doesn’t take as much of your money next year as it did last year, we have more money. The government has a lower tax rate, and depending on economic growth, may have more or less money, but we, the people, have more money. So it is a good thing for us to have lower taxes.”
    Wow, Grover — we can’t use the word “we” anymore to refer to a political entity called the government?
    What do you propose we replace the word “we” with in the following, Grover?
    “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    Terry Gross then moves on to the estate tax. Here’s the back and forth:
    Terry Gross: The estate tax is only paid by somebody who gets over $2 million in inheritance. So, you know, when you get out of poverty and you cross that line which is — What is it, like, $18,000 or something that’s officially poverty line?
    Grover Norquist: Depends on how many kids you have. Yeah.
    Terry Gross: Right. OK. So when you cross that, maybe you’re making, like, $20,000 or something. That’s not going to help you with the estate tax. I mean, you’re talking about $2 million. That’s a line people don’t cross a lot. That’s — I don’t think that’s …
    Grover Norquist: Yeah, the good news about the move to abolish the death tax, the tax where they come and look at how much money you’ve got when you die, how much gold is in your teeth and they want half of it, is that — you’re right, there’s an exemption for — I don’t know — maybe a million dollars now, and it’s scheduled to go up a little bit. However, 70 percent of the American people want to abolish that tax. Congress, the House and Senate, have three times voted to abolish it. The president supports abolishing it, so that tax is going to be abolished. I think it speaks very much to the health of the nation that 70-plus percent of Americans want to abolish the death tax, because they see it as fundamentally unjust. The argument that some who played at the politics of hate and envy and class division will say, ‘Yes, well, that’s only 2 percent,’ or as people get richer 5 percent in the near future of Americans likely to have to pay that tax.
    I mean, that’s the morality of the Holocaust. ‘Well, it’s only a small percentage,’ you know. ‘I mean, it’s not you, it’s somebody else.’
    And this country, people who may not make earning a lot of money the centerpiece of their lives, they may have other things to focus on, they just say it’s not just. If you’ve paid taxes on your income once, the government should leave you alone. Shouldn’t come back and try and tax you again.
    Terry Gross: Excuse me. Excuse me one second. Did you just …
    Grover Norquist: Yeah?
    Terry Gross: … compare the estate tax with the Holocaust?
    Grover Norquist: No, the morality that says it’s OK to do something to do a group because they’re a small percentage of the population is the morality that says that the Holocaust is OK because they didn’t target everybody, just a small percentage. What are you worried about? It’s not you. It’s not you. It’s them. And arguing that it’s OK to loot some group because it’s them, or kill some group because it’s them and because it’s a small number, that has no place in a democratic society that treats people equally. The government’s going to do something to or for us, it should treat us all equally. …”
    Terry Gross: So you see taxes as being the way they are now terrible discrimination against the wealthy comparable to the kind of discrimination of, say, the Holocaust?
    Grover Norquist: Well, what you pick — you can use different rhetoric or different points for different purposes, and I would argue that those who say, ‘Don’t let this bother you; I’m only doing it’ — I, the government. The government is only doing it to a small percentage of the population. That is very wrong. And it’s immoral. They should treat everybody the same. They shouldn’t be shooting anyone, and they shouldn’t be taking half of anybody’s income or wealth when they die.”
    First of all, Grover, the morality underpinning the estate tax is the not same as the “morality” underpinning the holocaust.
    The holocaust was mass killing driven by a racist ideology. There is no morality there.
    The estate tax is a moral tax — taxing the wealth of the super-rich to help the not so super-rich — it’s called progressive taxation.
    According to Bill Gates Sr. and Chuck Collins of the group Responsible Wealth, nearly half of all estate taxes are paid by the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the American population — a few thousand families each year.
    In 2001, Gates was the lead signer on Responsible Wealth’s Call to Preserve the Estate Tax, which was signed by over 1,000 wealthy people personally affected by the estate tax — including George Soros, Ted Turner, and David Rockefeller Jr. He points out that since it was enacted in 1916, the estate tax has helped to limit the concentration of wealth, making it easier for Americans to educate themselves, innovate, build new businesses, and prosper.
    Gates also points out that while there is no question that “some people accumulate great wealth through hard work, intelligence, creativity, and sacrifice” it is equally important to acknowledge “the influence of other factors, such as luck, privilege, other people’s efforts, and society’s investment in the creation of individual wealth such as a patent system, enforceable contracts, open courts, property ownership records, protection against crime and external threats, and public education.”
    The father of the man with the billions understands the word “we.”
    Get it, Grover?
    see —


  7. mtrider says:

    Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.”
    “We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals-and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.”
    — Grover Norquist
    I am honest to God happy that we got people like you reaching “out to all parties across the political spectrum”.
    But try not to lose any fingers in the process will ya?


  8. Zathras says:

    Grover Norquist’s bottom line is the bottom line of Grover Norquist. Always has been.
    Historically low approval ratings for President Bush, sustained for a long enough period of time, mean fewer financial opportunities for people identified as his supporters. When Bush had the approval of 80% and more of the public, as he did for quite a while, his supporters could get away with a lot. It’s inevitable that once they couldn’t get away with as much, some of them wouldn’t want to be his supporters anymore. From their point of view, that’s what sanity means.


  9. Beady Eye Guy says:

    Grover is a lot of things, but he isn’t a neocon. He’s what I call a greedycon – Conservatives who could care less about religiosos, social cons, neo cons and care more about making money and paying less in taxes. Even a guy like Grover must see the futility of invading, bombing and occupying sovereign nations.
    Diplomacy is cheaper and he does get that. And for the record, I still dislike Grover BUT I can appreciate his points here.


  10. Phil says:

    Why should we care what Grover Norquist thinks about foreign affairs? All he thinks about (besides enriching himself) is cutting taxes, cutting taxes, cutting taxes. (Evidently he believes freedom really IS free.) This is a man who once compared the estate tax to the Holocaust. Throw in his shady dealings with Jack Abramoff and others, and I have to ask: Is it really an improvement to call upon one destructive influence to counter another?
    Thanks but no thanks.


  11. ej says:

    Okay, now are we supposed to think that the neocons have become humbled, seen the light, or reached awareness?
    Or, are we to keep distrusting them, no matter what they seem to be saying now, because we know that these ideologues never give up?
    I understand that Steve is a friend with Grover, so maybe he understands his heart more than we do. But I’m here to say that people and this country have been hurt by some of the neocon philosophy and their programs and projects and they don’t get a pass – they are suspect.
    Perhaps my distant vantage point doesn’t allow me to see how politics and the people who choose to live that life operates, but this is not an intellectual game where we simply forget and have “do-overs” as if nothing of real importance happened.
    There are real consequences in this world, and the bravado and subsequent insouciance, displayed by many neocons at the expense of innocent individuals is not forgivable – Iraq, Katrina, sub prime loans, VA hospitals, Abu Graib, lack of universal healthcare, over taxing the middle class, disregard for the constitution, disregard for the rule of law, US Attorneys purge, and on and on and on .
    Bush and his colleagues will have to do more than just a few seemingly well intentioned, not to mention hypocritical, words to convince the rest of the world that they have seen the error of their ways and deserve forgiveness or even to be listened to.
    The arrogance that now the neocons think they can tell future administrations what to do after they accomplished such vast destruction by demonstrating absolute total incompetence, malintent, and a Machiavellian heart.
    I remember a story I heard about Joe McCarthy after he had been “de-frocked” from his lofty arrogant perch. Encountering one of his opponents in a hallway in Congress he lightly punched the individual in the shoulder and said something to the effect that all this mess just came down to some kind of big game and everyone played hard – no hard feelings.
    This is not a game!


  12. jerri says:

    Was Grover attempting to taste humble pie, crow, or a nibble of hat? Will he require the new president to sign a pledge?


  13. Giuseppe Garibaldi says:

    “like John Bolton and neoconservatives like Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and William Kristol.”
    So, are these like the only guys in this town you won’t buddy up with? Norquist is a corrupt, reactionary apparatchik.


  14. JohnH says:

    Wow! Now will Norquist–in the interests of shrinking government to the point where you can drown it in a bathtub–advocate a dramatic downsizing of the largest, most profligate government department of all?
    Because “defense” takes half of the federal operating budget, you can’t talk about seriously reducing federal spending without dramatically cutting the defense budget.


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