Saturday, November 18, 2017
Opinion

Republicans finally starting to say, 'Grover who?'

RECOMMENDED READING


A few days ago, Sen. Marco Rubio hedged on this whole silly science thing by claiming he has no clue about the age of the planet.

"It's one of the great mysteries," said the man who wakes up every morning practicing the crisp salute upon debarking from Marine One on the White House lawn.

But if you are on the hunt for a real mystery, you don't need to go much further than that demagogue Grover Norquist, Washington's Torquemada of Taxes.

Congress, of course, is populated by figures who pride themselves — at least before microphones — as fiercely independent-minded pillars of courage ever ready to stand up to the forces of evil bent on destroying America. Inspiring is what it is.

And yet, going into the November elections, 279 congressional incumbents along with another 286 challengers eager to become part of the Capitol Crazy Buffet line all happily signed a pledge to Norquist promising to never, ever raise taxes by so much as a bus token.

Say, there's some singular backbone for you.

Among those rolling over like a Shih Tzu eager to get its tummy rubbed for a Snausage treat were Rubio, Reps. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota, C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores and the recently defeated Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens. Other prominent Republicans panting after Norquist's nod in their general direction were the likes of household names in Congress, such as John McCain, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Jim DeMint and Orrin Hatch.

A Washington lobbyist who has never held public office, nor run a business, nor been responsible for creating anything remotely resembling coherent public policy, managed to force hundreds of politicians to kowtow to him by signing a ridiculous scrap of paper with less binding legal authority than a mattress tag.

There always has been the concern over the potential abuses of one-party rule. But for decades, the nation's tax policy has effectively been hijacked by a political grifter holding court in his 12th Street NW redoubt, funded by a who's who of corporate special interest groups.

Would Norquist qualify as one of Mitt Romney's dreaded gift takers, relying on the dole from others?

This has been one of the great Potomac scams of Washington life.

To refuse to sign Norquist's Pledge of Compliance would result, or so the addled thinking went, in the unleashing of political retribution against anyone who had an iota of common sense to think the no tax promise was stupid.

Little wonder that in a place where common sense is a rare find, the pledge was so popular. It spared some of Congress' dimmer leading lights the inconvenience of thinking for themselves.

But elections are curious things. And with President Barack Obama given a second term in a wave that also saw a number of tea party acolytes given the heave-ho at the polls, as if by magic some Republicans — some — are beginning to suggest they aren't so beholden to the bully of the Beltway.

As Congress and the White House inch closer to the fiscal cliff, a few fairly prominent Republicans, such as New York Rep. Peter King, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, South Carolina's Sen. Lindsey Graham, Tennessee's Sen. Bob Corker and Oklahoma's Sen. Tom Coburn, have dropped broad hints they might be willing to tell Norquist to take his no new taxes pledge and file it under: "Grover Norquist? Doesn't ring a bell."

While not quite rising to Martin Luther nailing his manifesto to the church door, most of these Republicans have indicated they might be willing to consider tax increases, along with spending cuts, to address the nation's budget deficit.

And with that, the Wizard of Odd could well be exposed as the feckless, impotent straw man that he is. When figures like King, Chambliss, Corker and especially the uber-conservative Coburn are willing to dismiss Norquist as an irritating and naive political poltroon, they provide cover for others to also part ways.

For a brief moment, some Republicans have pledged to put the interests of the country ahead of an overbearing Washington influence-peddler.

Now a twitching Norquist is threatening revenge on those who have rejected his phony pledge. And here's the best part. Who really cares?

Comments

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17