December 10, 2003

Well, If We're Going to Go All Shakespearean

I'm not sure that I would say that it was "much ado about nothing." I think all that sound and fury on yesterday's Hugh Hewitt show signified something, I'm just not sure what. As I pointed out in my e-mail to Glenn, there appears to be a good deal of personal animosity between these two. It would be helpful to know what the level of acrimony was between Gaffney and Norquist before the charges surfaced. When they started arguing over rent payments and the use of conference rooms in the middle of a debate that goes to the heart of national security, I had to take a step back. Maybe it would be helpful if the person raising these issues wasn't someone who has essentially shared an office with Norquist all this time.

There's no question that Gaffney raises a number of questions that need to be answered, and describes some connections which, if accurate, are more than just a little disturbing. But any Oliver Stone or Art Bell fan can tell you that connect-the-dots is the fun and easy way to find a major conspiracy where there was none before. Gaffney is almost certainly not the racist that Norquist makes him out to be, but he does little to help his credibility when he has to backpedal after alleging that a muslim White House aid played a role in securing a meeting for Wahhabist leaders (as NRO reported earlier this year.) For his part, Norquist would do well to stop denying any connections to "bad people" and saying that Gaffney can't name any specific "bad things" that he has done.

By the way, can't we expect a little more from the vocabulary of a major Beltway player pulling down the kind of bucks that Norquist makes? It's a quibble, but come on. "Bad people?" He sounds more like Grover from Sesame street than one of the nation's top conservative voices.

Norquist would do well to follow Hewitt's advice :

I have known Grover for more than 25 years, and recently shared a panel with him at our college reunion this past summer. Grover needs to respond in detail to Gaffney's charges, as soon as possible, and in an easily distributed electronic form.

Yesterday's WWF-worthy radio broadcast won't cut it. Norquist needs to respond to these charges one by one.

Posted by Phil at December 10, 2003 08:54 AM | TrackBack

Sounds like Grover might be an improvement.

Posted by: Mr. Pibb at December 10, 2003 09:36 AM

I missed the fight. Who brought up the rent/conference room nonsense first? I've noticed that it's usually the _left_ using the tactic of extraneous and irrelevant "facts" as a smokescreen.

Posted by: ubu at December 10, 2003 10:21 AM

Hey, ubu

Well, there's nobody from the left in this particular fight. I think Gaffney brought up the conference room, and Norquist brought up the rent. I might have that backwards.

Posted by: Phil at December 10, 2003 10:27 AM

I am only a news junkie, but I have known about Grover Norquist's connection to the Arab American community for at least a year. It has been no big secret that he was the guy who was trying to put together a bunch of ethnic votes that would potentially counterbalance the Democrats' Jewish American voting block. when 9/11 occurred, Norquist was viewed by the White House as their "expert" in that field, and no doubt he was key in choosing the people that would 'represent' Arab Americans during that time. It turns out that Norquist was simply a political operator, with absolutely no idea of national security. The people he met and shmoozed with (like Alamoudi) were obviously ones with good table manners. Alamoudi, by the way, was never secretive about his hatred of Israel and anger at the non sharia nature of the USA - some commentators mentioned his being in front of the White House, several weeks previous to 9/11, yelling about all that, and waving a placard.

Posted by: heather at December 10, 2003 10:54 AM

Hugh will rebroadcast the interview/debate/match Wednesday night (12/10) at 8PM Eastern.

Posted by: Juan Paxety at December 10, 2003 11:07 AM


Norquist brought up the rent issue and that Gaffney's firm was having financial troubles.

Norquist seemed to deny all of Gaffney's allegations by stating that he never got anyone into the White House or meetings with administration officials. Norquist also denied ties to Al Arian, the professor from Miami, and that checks were returned to Almoudi.

Hugh Hewitt is right, Norquist needs to answer each and every allegation in writing and preferably on the web.

Posted by: weimdog at December 10, 2003 11:13 AM

Well here's one inaccuracy that can't be denied:
Ironically, pro-Islamist groups had been scheduled to meet with President Bush on the morning of September 11 to hear what he planned to do to deliver on his secret evidence campaign pledge.27 But that day, the executive mansion complex was shut down, for fear that a fourth hijacked aircraft was headed its way. I watched bemused as Grover Norquist and the White House official responsible for Muslim outreach, Suhail Khan, escorted the displaced Islamists into the conference room we share. (Al-Arian had arranged to participate in the presidential meeting via phone. According to his website, his teaching schedule at the University of South Florida would not allow him to be there in person.)

In fact, Bush was in Florida and the rest of his morning was to be spent there, had there been no attack.

From a Sept 7 breifing:

In the afternoon on Monday, the President will continue his focus on reading and education when he travels to Jacksonville, Florida, and then on to Sarasota, Florida.

He'll return to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, where he will host, in the evening, the Congressional Barbecue on the South Lawn. Also on Tuesday, Mrs. Bush will make remarks on early child cognitive development to Senator Kennedy's committee.

If this wildly imaginative passage is in this piece, how can you believe the rest?

My guess is Gaffney's article is crap.


Posted by: J.Scott Barnard at December 10, 2003 12:56 PM

the quote should end with "Kennedy's committee."

Posted by: J.Scott Barnard at December 10, 2003 12:57 PM

But which is "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"?

Posted by: El J G at December 10, 2003 01:43 PM


Clearly there's a connection between Norquist and the Arab/Islmaic community, but isn't it Norquist's position that he and his organization cut all ties to Almoudi after he made his outrageous statements?


That's an interesting discrepancy, but I wonder whether Gaffney is describing an actual physical meeting that was supposed to take place at the White House, or a conference call that these leaders were going to have with the President?

And finally... Methinks the Jefe doth protest too loudly.

Posted by: Phil at December 10, 2003 02:05 PM

This is a low-level brawl in every sense of that phrase, but Norquist has a much more consequential political position than Gaffney, so let's focus on what is most likely going on with him.

Prior to 9/11, Norquist did appear to do a lot of work trying to build a bridge between the growing Muslim population in America and the Republican Party. I don't think he's given up on that idea at all -- one of the two things Norquist is about is increasing his influence in Republican politics, and since he has no interest in serving in government himself bringing new players into politics is one of the best ways to do this. Unlike other minorities, American Muslims have among their self-identified leaders some very dubious people from a security standpoint, and as far as identifying who these are and dealing with them appropriately Norquist was, and remains, in way over his head.

The other thing Norquist is about, of course, is funding organizations run by Grover Norquist. His history of violent espousal of causes commending themselves to wealthy donors to Americans for Tax Reform -- you didn't really think he started campaigning to abolish the estate tax because he thought abolition integral to supply-side economics, did you? -- might well lead one to suspect that he has financial reasons for not distancing himself from dubious characters as well as political ones. However we don't have evidence of a money trail at this time.

I thought it interesting that Norquist's reaction to Gaffney's charges -- counter-charging racism and denying wrongdoing while fudging details -- is similar to reactions long associated with liberal Democrats, and the second was used especially often by the Clinton White House. Some conservative.

Posted by: Zathras at December 11, 2003 12:10 PM