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Inside the Beltway: Vilifying Norquist

- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2012

Looks like it's Grover Norquist's turn to ride the insult wagon. The founder of Americans for Tax Reform is under scrutiny after seven lawmakers revealed they are not so keen about his long-standing "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," currently signed by 279 members of Congress, including three Democrats. Critics smell opportunity though. Even a hint of Republican disunity appears to inspire critics to exaggerate the scope of the discord, amplify negative implications and embellish with clever catcalls.

"The declarations of independence from Norquist's absolutist anti-tax pledge have been coming fast and furious," says John Avlon, a Newsweek columnist and CNN contributor "This extreme, unelected activist is helping to hold a balanced bipartisan deal hostage. The election is over. The time for hatred, ideological obstruction and overheated rhetoric has passed. It's foolish to be afraid of Norquist. The only pledge members of Congress should take is the Pledge of Allegiance."

The Atlantic, meanwhile, asks, "Have we reached Peak Grover?" Mother Jones asks if the pledge is "beginning to show cracks" while ABC News simply states that there were "cracks in the conservative armor." The Village Voice, meanwhile, calls Mr. Norquist "an angry little man who bullies congressional candidates." The party in question has a retort, meanwhile.

"No pledge-taker has voted for a tax increase. We've had some people discussing impure thoughts on national television," Mr. Norquist told CNN, suggesting that discussions about the matter should take place before C-SPAN cameras.

STILL PLEDGING PLEDGE

"Should Republicans stand by the Norquist tax pledge no matter what?" asks a National Review online insta-poll of more than 9,000 readers. Answer: 53 percent agree, 47 percent do not, as of Monday evening.

HOLA AMERICA

"The picture reveals some terrible news for the GOP and its future. Nearly 3 in 10 Latino Republicans voted for President Obama, as did 1 in 3 self-described conservatives. Two in three men and nearly 3 in 4 women supported Mr. Obama, as did two thirds of Latinos in the Swing States," says pollster John Zogby, who pored over his own 2012 surveys with former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz to get a "granular picture" of the coveted Latino voting bloc. They made up 4 percent of 92 million total voters in the 1992 presidential election, and 10 percent of the total 130 million voters this time around.

Typically, a GOP candidate must garner 35 percent of the Latino vote to win. Mitt Romney received 29 percent and George W. Bush 40 percent in 2004, Mr. Zogby says. But alas. Among Hispanic voters, 70 percent of "weekly Wal-Mart shoppers," 60 percent of evangelicals, 74 percent of Catholics and 65 percent of Protestants voted to re-elect Mr. Obama. Seventy-two percent of households with someone in the military voted for the president, as did 73 percent of union households, 68 percent of "investor class" voters and 64 percent of Hispanic NASCAR fans, the numbers reveal.

"The GOP was simply crushed," Mr. Zogby observes.

COOLING THE EPA

"Whereas, it is now clear that the global warming alarmists are wrong and a large majority of Americans now understand it was a hoax; whereas, regulators at the EPA, having lost their war to scare America into giving them legislation that would allow them to seize control of virtually all energy production and use, are perverting the Clean Air law to give themselves unprecedented powers to regulate American society; whereas, the toll the EPA is now taking on this country is staggering, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work."

(Points from a Heartland Institute petition to downsize the Environmental Protection Agency, presented to Congress on Tuesday by Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican.)

CENSUS SENSIBILITY

Free from the U.S. Census Bureau: a new mobile app providing real-time updates of 16 key economic indicators from federal agencies and offices as they are released, including unemployment statistics, retail sales, durable goods and construction spending. The "America's Economy" app is available for download for both Apple and Android phones and tablets. See it all here: census.gov/mobile/.

"Our users are not only changing how they want our statistics, they're changing how they access them," the bureau explains.

ISSA AND COMPANY

Interesting. Amid much speculative news coverage of Egypt and its changing role in the Middle East comes an event Tuesday sponsored by an Egyptian philanthropist that has drawn Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent; Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, and retired Adm. William J. Fallon, former commander of U.S. Central Command. The trio is part of a panel addressing "Beyond Government Diplomacy: How Can We Address East-West Challenges" at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, a monumental stronghold right there on Constitution Avenue in the nation's capital.

The event — which also includes discussions about art, "early globalists" and "Orientalist travelers" — is sponsored by the Egyptian businessman Shafik Gabr "as part of his new foundation's mission to facilitate exchange between the Arab world and the West."

And the eats? The 20-item reception meal afterwards includes fennel and coriander lamb with pomegranate glaze, butternut squash bisteeya with cardamom cream, potato crusted halibut, strip steak with cippolini onions, dolmas, guinea fowl, baba ghanoush, vegetable tagine with saffron couscous, rolled baklava and honey lemon basbousa.

POLL DU JOUR

• 39 percent of Americans say they are "optimistic" looking ahead to President Obama's second term.

• 10 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of conservatives, 60 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of liberals agree.

• 29 percent of Americans overall say they are "afraid"; 61 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of conservatives, 5 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of liberals agree.

• 15 percent overall are pessimistic; 26 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of conservatives, 2 percent of Democrats and 4 percent of liberals agree.

• 15 percent overall are enthusiastic; 2 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of conservatives, 32 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,023 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 16 to 18.

Snappy retorts, polite applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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