Hoping to pick up the pieces after an electoral drubbing, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist held one of his famous Wednesday meetings yesterday to plot out a renaissance of sorts.
About 150 individuals were in attendance, he said, in addition to GOP officials calling in from 40 states. And while Norquist acknowledged that Republicans were licking their wounds a bit, he already had charted the avenues for a resurrection, much of it premised on an anticipated Democratic overreach.
"Barney Frank is going to be shooting legislation at [Obama], Nancy Pelosi has a backlog of legislation and in her mind she has been waiting for 20 years to push it... the pent up demand to do stuff is going to come out like a machine gun," said Norquist. "The other issue we are going to be for is stopping Obama's tax increases, massive spending program, his takeover of health care... He will create the agenda for the modern right by creating a list of programs that oddly didn't end up in his advertisements."
Obama, Norquist additionally argued, would have hiccups upon entering office; not necessarily because the shift from candidate to president was so vast but because his political demeanor was not suited for the climate of the country.
"[Bill] Clinton was from Arkansas and was smart enough to know that the country wasn't up for his to-do list. Obama is not from Arkansas," he said. "[Obama] doesn't know anybody who would consider knowing Bill Ayers as a problem. He doesn't know anybody who thinks that getting an earmark for your wife is not appropriate."
As for Republicans themselves, Norquist said that much of the party's focus would be spent on issues of transparency and accountability. And, of course, there would be taxes and demanding that rates continued to be reduced or kept low. Asked if he worried about a dearth of talent in the lower ranks, Norquist scoffed at the question itself, saying the idea that there were no promising up-and-coming conservatives was the concoction of a columnist in need of copy.
"These writers, they start pontificating about the structure of the party in Maryland and in Idaho, they just don't know what is going on there," he said. "Look at all the people who didn't know Sarah Palin and therefore she had to be an idiot."
But Norquist did have harsh parting words for President George W. Bush who, by any political measure, has left the conservative movement in a more perilous situation than when he came to office.
Arguing that every president has a certain amount of "bandwidth" with which to work, the head of American's for Tax Reform chastised Bush for "deciding to take five years to be the mayor of Baghdad instead of the United States."
"The idea that you are Winston Churchill because you picked a fight with a country with 25 million people in it, come on," said Norquist. "Ronald Reagan would do that before breakfast and then go have lunch. Ronald Reagan was smart enough to realize quickly that he would not go and manage the next Lebanese civil war for the next 20 years."
Norquist's forte is in areas of spending and taxes. And on the first of these fronts, Bush has taken a lot of heat. But in an discussion with the Huffington Post, Norquist was far more critical of Bush's foreign policy ventures, which he said simply decimated the capital and time the administration had for domestic priorities.
"How were you going to get stuff done if your time, your focus, your energy -- however useful -- is spent setting up Baghdad's infrastructure and not on the FCC," he asked. "If you are sitting there deciding who should be viceroy of Iraq rather than head of FEMA?"