This week a Republican member of Congress took on an increasingly controversial political activist by the name of Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist, an influential figure in the conservative movement famous for his “no tax increase pledge.”
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., took to the House floor in an unusual and blistering denunciation of Norquist and his “unsavory” connections. Among those, he cited:
his ties to known terrorist financiers Abdurahman Alamoudi and Sami Al-Arian;
his support for the Ground Zero mosque;
his advocacy for transferring Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil;
his lobbying on behalf of Fannie Mae;
his representation of the Internet gambling industry.
“Simply put,” said Wolf in a sharp attack recorded on C-SPAN, “I believe Mr. Norquist is connected with or has profited from a number of unsavory people and groups out of the mainstream.”
In response, Norquist responded by pointing out Wolf is one of only six Republican members of the U.S. House who has refused to sign ATR’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” He also said Wolf’s allegations are “beneath him” and characterized the speech as a “hissy fit” and “a compilation of whack job criticisms.”
So what’s this all about? Many conservatives, I suspect, are left wondering, “Who’s right – Wolf or Norquist?”
The answer: They are both partly right and partly wrong – but Wolf’s attack is a great opportunity to shed some much-needed light on one of the most dangerous people in the conservative movement.
Wolf is mostly right about Norquist’s very unconservative connections.
As the chief spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said recently, Norquist has become the “chief cleric of Shariah tax law” in America. Norquist has used his influence in Washington to propel the careers of people like Suhail Khan, a former Bush White House appointee, whose family founded the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. and held fundraisers for al-Qaida’s No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Thanks to Norquist’s sponsorship, Khan now sits on the board of the American Conservative Union, the group that organizes the largest annual conservative conference in the country, known as CPAC. Norquist also serves on that board and the board of the National Rifle Association – as well as the advisory board of GOProud, a homosexual group promoting same-sex marriage, open homosexuality in the U.S. military and hate-crimes laws.
Indeed, Norquist claims to see no conflict between Islamic, Saudi-style Shariah law and the Constitution. In fact, he says Islam “is completely consistent with the U.S. Constitution and a free and open society.” Anyone who disagrees with him, like me, an Arab-American whose grandparents fled the Middle East for the liberty they found in America, is “Islamophobic.”
Norquist is also behind the Republican candidacy of Imam Afif “David” Ramadan in Virginia’s 87th legislative district. Who is Ramadan? Ramadan is married to the daughter of a Shiite general in the Lebanese intelligence service, Ghanda Abdul Rahman Zoghbi. As Kennth Timmerman, a veteran Middle East correspondent, writes, “How do you get to marry the daughter of a Shiite general in the Lebanese intelligence service, which has long been dominated by Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah? Certainly not by being a secular Muslim – also known as an ‘apostate’ by Muslim believers – who embraces the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution over Shariah law?” Good question, indeed.
But, getting back to the Norquist-Wolf feud, here’s the irony: Both of them support the election of Ramadan!
That’s what makes this issue of who’s right and who’s wrong so complicated.
Is Wolf a wimp on taxes? You bet!
Does Grover Norquist appear to be the gravitational center of an effort at Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the conservative movement and politics in America more generally? Yes, he does!
Grover Norquist suggests those concerned about the threat of Shariah law, Islamic terrorism and jihadist tyranny are all prone to exaggeration and anti-Muslim bigotry.
Grover Norquist, through his pimping for GOProud, is undermining a central tenet of conservatism – support for the traditional family, marriage and a moral system based on the Judeo-Christian values of the Bible.
But, because of Grover Norquist’s influence, it gets even worse for the conservative movement, I’m afraid.
It is my considered opinion that Norquist is not even the “economic conservative” he is celebrated to be.
Even before the Republican House majority was seated after the 2010 election, Norquist began devising the strategy behind the total capitulation of the leadership on the raising of the debt limit. Here was a unique opportunity for a new brand of Republican leadership that could actually take a giant step toward limited government in Washington – by simply refusing to authorize more unsustainable borrowing. Norquist was the Machiavellian architect of this very unconservative capitulation.
While he may oppose tax increases, he has no problems with the federal government gorging itself at the trough of trillions in indebtedness.
In addition, Wolf is correct in pointing out that it was Norquist who led the opposition to Sen. Coburn’s proposed elimination of the ethanol tax subsidy.
So what am I saying here?
I’m issuing a warning to anyone and everyone who considers himself or herself a “conservative” – whether you are in a leadership position or just a grass-roots activist.
Grover Norquist represents a grave danger to the conservative movement – and thus to the future of America. In my view, if America is to be saved from the gruesome fate of its current projector, the conservative movement will need to play a major corrective role. I simply don’t see how that is possible when it is compromised, infiltrated and misdirected by people like Grover Norquist who are covertly promoting an agenda that is not only unconservative but, frankly, un-American.
Over many years, he has carefully constructed a power base for himself inside the movement through relationships, favors, money, introductions. His official resume looks strong. And few of those he has worked with him over the years are prepared to defy him, question his funding, investigate his friendships or connect the dots of his many and varied and sometimes seemingly contradictory alliances.
Until grass-roots conservative awaken from their slumber to discover who Grover Norquist is and whose interests he actually serves, the movement is in a lot of trouble.
And without a conservative movement focused like a laser beam on keeping America safe and secure, prosperous, free and morally upright, who is going to lead America in the right direction?