11 April 2003
Grover puts it over
If you didn't know Grover Norquist, you might let his name trip over your tongue and then you'd decide he's the sort of guy whose Hollywood-ized life story would be played by Wally Cox. But Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, is no milquetoast P. J. O'Rourke once characterized him as "Tom Paine crossed with Lee Atwater plus just a soupçon of Madame Defarge" and when the ACLU invited some prominent conservatives to join a panel this week on civil liberties in general and the USA PATRIOT act in particular, Norquist was in rare form.
According to a Jake Tapper report in Salon, Norquist, citing the tendency toward mission creep in law enforcement, something the PATRIOT act accelerates, quipped that few complain about it because most people think, "Do whatever you want to guys named Guido that doesn't affect me." But sauce levels between geese and ganders can be equalized in a flash: "Someday Hillary Clinton's going to be attorney general and I hope conservatives keep that in mind."
Ouch! Barbara Comstock at DOJ complained, "You can't pass laws based on the fact that you think there are going to be corrupt people who misuse the system some day." But at the very core of conservatism is the belief that people are flawed and some of them will mess up: sooner or later, there are going to be corrupt people who misuse the system. All the better, then, not to provide them the opportunity in the first place.
And Norquist wasn't through. "I would support legislation that would sunset all legislation passed during a time of war," he said. "And I would vote against any legislation somebody felt they had to name 'PATRIOT'," a cumbersome acronym he said was chosen because "it looks bad on a 30-second commercial to have voted against it."
No wonder this guy isn't in Congress.