Grover Norquist makes a fool of himself in this November 2008 discussion about raising taxes to prevent a recession.
I have this posted over at C&L today:
Dear Media Types and/or Journalists,
I know a lot of you read our little blog, so I want to ask you a question: Why won’t you cover the story that an unelected Republican tax czar demands that Republicans sign an anti-tax pledge that supercedes their oath of office, enforces it through coercion, intimidation and threats, and has this country’s political system and the very economy in a state of crisis? Why do you accept the idea that this is somehow perfectly normal, even okay?
Here’s how Ed at Gin and Tacos put it:
Let’s say that through a combination of fund-raising prowess, ideological militancy, and personal charisma, Jesse Jackson Sr. is able to assume a position of considerable behind-the-scenes power in the Democratic Party. His sway over elected Democrats is such that he manages to get 95% of the Democratic Congressional delegation, House and Senate, to sign an oath of personal loyalty to his policy goals. Specifically, they pledge that under no circumstances will they ever support cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other social welfare programs. Jackson believes that any such cuts will affect the poor and people of color disproportionately. Throughout the debate over the budget and debt ceiling, House and Senate Democrats refuse to even consider any proposal that touches any of those programs. It is a non-starter. Full stop. Because they swore an oath to Jesse Jackson that they wouldn’t.
I’m sure you can see through this thin shoe-on-the-other-partisan-foot analogy to Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” that currently holds sway over the GOP. I do think it’s interesting to draw out the hypothetical scenario, though, to underscore a point: Can you even imagine the sheer violence of the pant-s****g that the GOP, Teatards, and Beltway media would be engaged in if the shoe really was on the other foot? If every Democrat had signed a personal oath to an interest group and private citizen that took precedence over their oath to the American people and Constitution?
You know, I think Ed makes a really good point. I don’t think you guys can credibly defend yourself on that one.
Here’s the oath of office each congress member and senator takes:
“I, Joe Blow, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Okay, let’s start with this. They take an oath to “support and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This is from the 14th Amendment:
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
So thanks to unelected GOP czar Grover Norquist and the oath he insists Republicans sign (235 congressmen and 41 senators from this Congress) under threat of a high-powered primary challenge, the elected members of Congress and the Senate have declared that their pledge to him takes precedence over their obligation to the Constitution and their responsibility to discharge their duties.
Don’t you think that’s a little, well, unAmerican? Not to mention against the very spirit of our constitution?
I’ve seen more profiles of Grover lately, but something important is missing from most of them. You’re supposed to be journalists. You’re supposed to sound alarms, afflict the comfortable. Why aren’t you doing your jobs?
Here’s a puppeteer who pulls the strings and intimidates elected offices. He’s an unelected, unaccountable sleazebag who’s taking money from the right wing for his anti-Constitution, unAmerican agenda. And he’s destroying our government, just as he threatened to do from the beginning.
Instead of describing what he does, why aren’t you questioning the very premise, like Garry Wills did in the New York Review of Books?
…Edmund Burke, standing for election to Parliament in 1774, addressed the electors of his district, Bristol. The idea of instructions had been raised in the campaign, leading Burke to renounce their “coercive authority”:
Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
Burke makes clear what the real meaning of the Norquist pledge is for those who subscribe to it. They are signing over their souls. This first oath they take, as candidates, makes the next one they take, as office holders—the oath to preserve and protect the Constitution—an empty gesture. That oath, sworn to God, may call for changes of position in a crisis or where better knowledge has become available. They cannot preserve and protect the country if their hands are tied and their minds closed. Their participation in congressional discussion, if that discussion affects taxes in any way, becomes a charade. This is the situation Burke denounced:
What sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments…Authoritative instructions; mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience – these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land.
That means that most Republicans in Congress have signed a Mephistophelian pact. They have left behind their consciences in the pocket of Grover Norquist.
Bill Clinton said this recently:
“He was quoted in the paper the other day saying he gave Republican senators permission … on getting rid of the ethanol subsidies. I thought, ‘My God, what has this country come to when one person has to give you permission to do what’s best for the country.’ It was chilling.”
Grover, of course, said it was taken out of context. But you all know how he works.
If some other dreadful plague was threatening this country, the media would be sounding the alarm. But on this issue? You’re strangely silent. There are many things in this world that, while legal, remain strongly immoral. Instead of covering Anthony Weiner’s online habits, why weren’t you covering this?
Our readers tell us this is why they don’t trust the media. Look in the mirror. This man is destroying our democracy, and if you’re not pointing that out every day, you’re complicit.