Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Coffee with Grover

(L-R) Grover Norquist, Nathan Moore, Me, and Matt White at Bongo Java Posted by Picasa

Well, technically, it was sweet tea on my part (me in a coffee shoppe is akin to Alabama football boosters at an ethics convention - in other words, a fish out of water), but the meeting of several Tennessee bloggers with Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the "masters of the universe" of American politics, was a high point in what is turning out to be a fantastic week. Bill Hobbs, Jay Bush, Bob Krumm, Nathan Moore, Matthew White, Ben Cunningham, Jeff Cornwall, and myself - or, as Jay has dubbed us, the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" - met with Mr. Norquist at Bongo Java in Nashville Tuesday afternoon to discuss a variety of topics, including coalition-building, the impact of blogs on politics, how to connect with voters, and how to obtain victory, both on a state and national level. (I hope this summation explains to Sharon Cobb as to why her invite was "lost in the mail," and that it had nothing to do with her gender, as she pondered in the comments section of a post yesterday.) Ed Bryant for Senate graciously organized the event.

While I can't go into everything discussed, Mr. Norquist provided some fascinating perspective as to how politics - and the Republican Party in particular - have evolved. He showed through examples how the Right is united through themes in individual issues, whereas the Left is united by one thing - money. That leads into how the Left can be defeated, because if their pursuit of money and riches is disrupted, the movement cannot remain cohesive. This is intuitive, as it explains why the Left is so against Social Security reform. As a 1999 Rasmussen poll showed, those Americans who owned at least $5,000 worth of stock heavily favored Republican candidates versus those voters of the same income bracket who did not own stock. A later Zogby poll showed a direct correlation between the size of an investor's stock portfolio and their allegiance to the Republican Party candidates. These trends were independent of race and gender characteristics, neither of which could be comforting to Democratic leaders, which is why it makes sense to see them (and the mainstream media) trying to derail President Bush's reform efforts. But that is a common theme of the meeting with Mr. Norquist - nearly everything made sense. From speaking on the importance of the recent Kelo decision - which Norquist believes could be to property rights advocates what Roe was for organizing the right-to-life movement - to how Pat Buchanan managed to keep his audience as a candidate but lose the election, Mr. Norquist made even one who was growing quite disheartened about the state of the Republican Party - which I have been - at least somewhat optimistic about the future of conservatives in the GOP.

I greatly enjoyed the afternoon, and I urge you to read what the other bloggers thought of the meeting. I do have a few other points, though. First, it was seemingly unanimous that the group believes Van Hilleary to have lost his marbles (or, at the very least, to have been the recipient of extremely poor campaign advice) for challenging a disgraced actress to a debate. Second, it was my first time meeting Mr. Moore, Mr. Cunningham, Professor Cornwall, and Mr. Krumm (I am pretty sure that Mr. White and I have crossed paths on the campaign trail, but I could be mistaken), and the pleasure was all mine. Third, yes, I drove all the way to Nashville for this one-hour meeting. The opportunity to meet Grover Norquist, with whom I had tried to speak while I lived in D.C. but wasn't able to corner due to his busy schedule with the 2004 elections, was too good to pass up. Fourth, no, I didn't ask him about CAFTA, of which he is a proponent and of which I am in opposition. However, I will be contacting him in the future to see if he can win me over. Fifth, and finally, Mr. Norquist was in our fair state to kick off Tennessee Tax Revolt's "anti-income tax" drive and for a ceremonial signing of Americans for Tax Reform's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." The state and local media should be ashamed of their coverage of these events. While the Knoxville News Sentinel had an article on the subject (which is better than its major counterparts in Nashville and Memphis), the author (Tom Humphrey) went out of his way to make the "anti-income tax" drive look foolish, playing up Governor Bredesen's refusal to stand against the income tax as almost heroic. There was no mention of Ed Bryant or his signing of the pledge - which Van Hilleary and Bob Corker have scoffed at, even though Senators Frist and Alexander have joined 44 other U.S. Senators and 222 U.S. House members in signing the pledge- which is quite telling. I was told by some people I have every reason to believe that the KNS will be heavily pushing Bob Corker for the GOP nomination, mostly for financial reasons. After reading Georgiana Vines' column on Corker a few months back (for which there was no equal time provided for the Bryant, Hilleary, or Harwell camps), I started to sense that neither Ed nor Van could count on the Knoxville paper for neutral coverage. I hope that I and my sources are wrong and that the KNS will be true to journalistic standards instead of financial considerations. In either case, below is a picture of Ed's signing of the pledge, standing with hard-working taxpayers in Tennessee.

Grover Norquist Observes Ed Bryant Signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge Posted by Picasa

UPDATE: After reading a few e-mails regarding this post, there is a clarification that I wish to make. I didn't say that Van Hilleary and Bob Corker did not eventually sign ATR's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." In fact, they have signed it - three months after Ed Bryant's campaign issued a press release citing his signing of the pledge as the first of the Senate candidates. To dig even further, all of the Senate candidates have signed the pledge - except Harold Ford, Jr. (Both Beth Harwell and Rosalind Kurita have signed the state version of the pledge.) My criticism is that they did so as a course of politics, not at the urging of conviction. As Bill Hobbs posted several months ago, Hilleary's support of the ATR initiative has been tepid, at best. In fact, Hilleary failed to sign the 2002 version of the pledge during the campaign that resulted in his loss to Phil Bredesen.

Food for thought: Americans for Tax Reform doesn't officially play favorites in GOP primaries, but where were Hilleary and Corker yesterday? Why wasn't Grover Norquist standing with Van for the memorialization of his fight against taxation? Don't tell me that he couldn't make it, because Norquist drove from the rally in Nashville to a location in the 6th Congressional District - Van Hilleary's own district - for the signing. It seems to this observer that Norquist made it easier on Hilleary to attend. Could Van not be bothered to make the short drive from Murfreesboro to just east of Lebanon? Or was he not invited?

More food for thought: Another topic that created a bit of a stir yesterday at the meeting was the possibility of conservative radio host Steve Gill quietly putting together a run for the Governor's Mansion. He was asked point blank whether he was a possible candidate, and he didn't say "no."

I am hoping that the meeting was also strategic in nature, specifically countering the outright falsehood spread by John Stewart and his TFT brood. It amazes me the local media never once mentions his long relationship with the national democratic party and his official placement therein.

The sentinel fawns all over their socialist press releases like it's actual fact.
I can see why I was "left" out. ;)

I didn't think it was because I am a woman. I was sort of asking where are the women bloggers on your side?

I look forward to meeting you at whatever get together Bill puts together in September.
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