Grover Norquist fires back at David Brooks

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Writing for The New York Times today, David Brooks takes a shot at several conservative blocs. But he specifically targets Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist — the man behind the now-controversial “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” According to Brooks, Norquist is “the Zelig of Republican catastrophe” who “enforces rigid ultimatums that make governance, or even thinking, impossible.”

“We don’t get along ever since I kind of made fun of his ‘National Greatness’ conservatism,” Norquist told me this morning when reached for comment.

According to Norquist, he invited Brooks to breakfast and asked him to define “National Greatness.”

“He couldn’t explain it,” Norquist said.

But that wasn’t the only time the two have butted heads. “I caught [Brooks] lying about [Norquist’s involvement with lobbyist Jack Abramoff] and called him on it,” said Norquist. “So he’s been pissed at me ever since.”

“If [conservative columnist Robert] Novak had gotten something wrong, he’d have been apoplectic. Novak was a reporter who wrote a column. Brooks is not a reporter who writes a column — he doesn’t do reporting,” added Norquist.

Regarding the debt crisis, Norquist said that, unlike Brooks, conservatives don’t automatically trust what President Obama says in his speeches, because: “We haven’t had dinner with him and been told how smart we are by Obama.”

Citing past examples of times when Republican presidents agreed to tax-hike compromises, Norquist said that Brooks’ column is essentially “the memo that would have been given to George Herbert Walker Bush by [former Bush O.M.B. director Richard] Darman. This memo is what [former Reagan O.M.B. director David] Stockman gave to Reagan in ’82 and said, ‘do this.’ And Reagan said it was the biggest mistake of his presidency.”

“Bush 41 took Darman’s advice, and threw away a perfectly good presidency,” said Norquist. “We’re going to have a majority in the House and Senate…unless we take David Brooks’ advice.”

Norquist also warned that the notion Republicans should compromise on raising taxes is an effort to “trick the Republicans to raise taxes to destroy their credibility — not with the Republican base — but with Independents.”

Referring to him as “Darman Brooks,” Norquist added: “We know what happens when you take David Brooks’ advice.”

Matt K. Lewis