Political Animal


February 13, 2012 5:25 PM His Master’s Voice?

By Ed Kilgore

Here’s how the official CPAC blog blandly described uber-lobbyist Grover Norquist’s speech to the gathering of the conservative tribes this weekend:

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, addressed the CPAC audience on the importance of not increasing taxes and electing a strong conservative majority in the House and Senate to cut taxes. Norquist predicted a conservative majority in the House will drive the agenda for the next 20 years.

But here’s the essential context, supplied by Republican heretic David Frum:

The most quoted speech at CPAC this year was Mitt Romney’s, but my vote for the most significant goes to Grover Norquist’s. In his charmingly blunt way, Norquist articulated out loud a case for Mitt Romney that you hear only whispered by other major conservative leaders.
They have reconciled themselves to a Romney candidacy because they see Romney as essentially a weak and passive president who will concede leadership to congressional conservatives

Frum goes on to quote Grover as follows:

We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it.

Notes Frum:

This is not a very complimentary assessment of Romney’s leadership. It’s also not a very realistic political program: congressional Republicans have a disapproval rating of about 75%. If Americans get the idea that a vote for Romney is a vote for the Ryan plan, Romney is more or less doomed.
To date, sad to say, Romney has worked hard to confirm this image of weakness.

And as conservatives mull over the prospect of a Santorum nomination, you can expect to hear more of Norquist’s kind of implicit talk about the merits of a candidate whose endless kowtowing and apparent lack of strong convictions of his own might make him an ideal front-man for a prospective congressional majority that really just needs to get the veto pen out of Obama’s hand.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • dalloway on February 13, 2012 5:44 PM:

    Yeah, Republicans. "Our guy will be Congress's bitch." Run on that.

  • Terry on February 13, 2012 5:46 PM:

    Grover Norquist is a right wing facist nut. However, he is refreshingly honest and does not mince any words about conservatives' true agenda.

  • Peter C on February 13, 2012 5:50 PM:

    Grover wants another Dubya.

  • K in VA on February 13, 2012 5:58 PM:

    Vote romney: An Echo, Not a Choice

  • Joe Friday on February 13, 2012 6:13 PM:

    "If Americans get the idea that a vote for Romney is a vote for the Ryan plan, Romney is more or less doomed."

    Gee, if we just had some sort of journalistic reporting system that would reveal that Willard actually campaigns on promising to enact the Ryan plan.

  • BoulderBo on February 13, 2012 6:14 PM:

    At least it's perfectly clear the rethugs only want what the American people really want, er oh wait: "If Americans get the idea that a vote for Romney is a vote for the Ryan plan, Romney is more or less doomed."

  • Mark Kawakami on February 13, 2012 6:22 PM:

    Man, I hope that becomes an Obama ad:

    Voiceover: You might think a president should be a good leader, but Republican lobbyists like Grover Norquist disagree.

    Norquist: "We are not auditioning for fearless leader."

    Voiceover: The Republican leadership doesn't want you to elect a president, they want you to elect a puppet.

    Norquist: "We donít need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go."

    Voiceover: They've found their puppet. His name is Mitt Romney.

    Norquist: "We just need a president to sign this stuff. We donít need someone to think it up or design it."

    Voiceover: Don't let lobbyist puppet masters run the White House. Re-elect Barack Obama, a leader with no strings attached.

    ... It's a rare moment when GOP lobbyists forget all their market-tested spin and accidentally let slip a moment of honesty in public. We've gotta use those moments beat the snot out of them.

  • Kathryn on February 13, 2012 6:29 PM:

    Jeez, for once I agree with Grover, Romney is a character- free stooge who will do their bidding, pass it on, particularly to those who praise his business background.

  • Anonymous on February 13, 2012 7:00 PM:

    Norquist is a wonderful spokestroll for the Repukeliscum. He is truly ugly, his voice is high and squeaky, and he is a total turd. I hope he gets a huge amount of airtime.

  • JM917 on February 13, 2012 7:10 PM:

    Norquist is simply letting slip what I've long thought was the GOP fallback position. Sure, it would be nice to have a conservative Republican president, but if that fails, it's almost good enough for the GOP to control both houses of Congress--the House via a simple majority and the Senate hopefully also by at least 51 votes and if necessary by imposing the 60-vote rule. In other words, what the Republicans now have.

    Grover and the other GOP master strategists (especially McTurtle) figure that if they can tie up Obama or his successor in knots with a gerrymander-safe House majority and a filibuster-enabled Senate de-facto majority, they can get 80% of what they want, while also "proving" to the country that "Washington is broken" and "the government always fails." Hell, they figure they can even block a Democratic president from naming any more Supreme Court justices--and watch how they'll prevent a reelected Obama from having any second-term cabinet members confirmed. Gridlock? Bring it on!

    The only way to beat this is to make sure that Obama is not only reelected this November but also gets a secure House majority (not dependent on the Blue Dogs) and an enlarged Senate majority that's willing to modify the filibuster rules.

  • JR on February 13, 2012 8:03 PM:

    This is exactly what I've been saying for months about the prospect of a Romney presidency. In order to save his own skin, he'll cede the reins to McConnell, Cantor & Co.

  • MGLoraine on February 13, 2012 8:26 PM:

    "We just need a president to sign this stuff. We donít need someone to think it up or design it."

    It worked (for Republicans) with Reagan. Ronald Reagan was deep in the throes of Alzheimer's even while he was campaigning. He was a brain-dead poster-boy from the outset. But he could still read from a teleprompter and sign his name. That's why he's regarded as the "perfect" president by the right-wingers. He was a "perfect" puppet for the corporate fat-cats. If they think Romney will serve as the "Robo-signer"-In-Chief (a very likely prospect), they may just vote for him.

  • jheartney on February 13, 2012 8:55 PM:

    Just call Mitt "President Autopen".

  • Cha on February 13, 2012 9:54 PM:

    willard, the severely impaired, flipping robot, should have no problem flopping into a rubber stamp.

  • zandru on February 13, 2012 11:28 PM:

    Well, This Answers the Question...
    ...of what a President Romney (shudder) would do, if elected, given that he flip-flops whenever the wind changes and appears to have no core beliefs of any sort.

    As told. That's what he will do.

  • cld on February 14, 2012 12:09 AM:

    Pretty rare that someone like this comes right out in public and say we should support the guy because he'd be a great puppet.

    'Vote for Mitt --He's a Malleable Tool!'

    just rolls off the tongue.

  • Grumpy on February 14, 2012 12:11 AM:

    "Norquist predicted a conservative majority in the House will drive the agenda for the next 20 years."

    Call me optimistic, but I think America can recover from the disaster of a conservative majority in less than 20 years.

  • Mark L on February 14, 2012 1:55 AM:

    It's a shame Warren Harding isn't running. He'd be the clear Norquist choice.

  • bob h on February 14, 2012 7:10 AM:

    I just hope they can get Grover's musings on the Ryan plan on tape.

  • 57andFemale on February 14, 2012 7:21 AM:

    This has been my fear of Romney. He is so without moral compass that he will acquiesce to any and all who 'own' him without a shred of conscience. I can imagine even New Gingrich thinking, "Oh, my God, what have I done?" if faced with horrific choices but I see none of that in Mitt. He wouldn't lose a minute of sleep. He is sociopathic. He exudes nothing natural or warm or real or compassionate. His family is a prop, as is anything that furthers his ambition. He is the most dangerous candidate of our lifetime to come this close to the presidency. He's the Manchurian Candidate who doesn't need a trigger -- he's a robot.

  • Skip on February 14, 2012 8:49 AM:

    Look what happened to this nation under just that scenerio, 6 years of a Republican magority Congress under a puppet President, He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named.

    They scalped the financial and environmental landscape without a thought for the consequences, consequences to their own nation, to the global markets, to the planet.

    The whole world suffered when Republicans got to place a second puppet president in the Executive Branch and the GOP collective has fought double nasty since then, not to repair the damage but to maintain it until they can elect yet a third.

    That Norquist had the audacity to speak in such clear terms indicates how deeply our political system has been invaded by human cockroaches. Up til now, the media has worked diligently to kept the lights off, but it's well past time that every American, indeed the world, should see what scuttles when the lights go on...

    Norquist's little speech should be sent world-wide. A national outcry? How about the entire globe weighting in on another 4 years of planet-wide impacts under a Republican dominated Bush-like puppet presidency, while we all are still buried in the task of cleaning up the last one.

    If We Who Aren't Republicans band together and ensure no more Republicans crawl into Washington, we'll show them we are just as strong as they are, and right now, a hell of a lot more pissed.

  • Skip on February 14, 2012 8:53 AM:

    Sorry about all the errors...I should know better than to type when seriously pissed off.

  • rea on February 14, 2012 10:24 AM:

    It's a shame Warren Harding isn't running.

    Waaay too liberal. Hell, he even opposed lynching.

  • biggerbox on February 14, 2012 10:47 AM:

    "A vote for Romney is a vote for President Mitch McConnell."

    Sounds like it would bring in a few votes for Obama in November. No one wants a deceitful box turtle leading the nation.

  • Bj Smith on February 14, 2012 2:27 PM:

    Through out the entire campaign the entire country needs to hear each & every day Mc Connell's quote about their goal, which is not to help Americans, but to defeat Obama, also Grovers remarks in his own voice. The Republican party has become stark staring mad.