Grover Norquist is a bogeyman for the Left. Like Andrew Breitbart, he challenges leftists using their own playbook. Norquist understands that one of the Left’s strengths is building coalitions with groups who may have different priorities. As the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), Norquist hosts the Wednesday meeting in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the off-the-record meeting is to strategize and share information about what’s going on among all facets of the conservative movement. Since the D.C.-based meeting started in 1993, there have been more than 60 similar meetings started in 47 states.
Norquist is the author of two books, Rock the House and Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government’s Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives.
One of ATR’s most important projects is the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. To date, 236 House members and 41 senators have signed the pledge. Also, 13 governors and 1,249 state legislators have signed on.
In addition to leading ATR, Norquist serves on several boards, including the National Rifle Association, The Nixon Center and GOProud. GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia told me, “Grover Norquist brings people together. He has the unique ability to build broad-based coalitions of diverse groups and interests, and he does it without compromising conservative principles or diluting the message. This makes him one of the most effective leaders in the Conservative movement today.”
1. If there were a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?
NORQUIST: Zulu. I once stayed at “the smallest Holiday Inn in the world” in Kwa Zulu, where they played Zulu and Zulu Dawn on continuous loop.
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
NORQUIST: “Coffee … coffee … coffee …” Robin Williams hyperventilating as the Russian immigrant overcome by the availability of coffee and the number of choices in an American supermarket in Moscow on the Hudson.
3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he is “cured.” If you could give President Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the “Clockwork Orange treatment,” what movie would you make them watch?
NORQUIST: The new Atlas Shrugged movie coming out in three parts. [Part one was released in April 2011. John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow are the producers of this long-awaited film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s masterpiece.]
4. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
NORQUIST: A Janis Joplin poster I bought for one dollar in Chile. Also a Janis Joplin lunch box.
5. What’s your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
NORQUIST: “White Collar” on USA Network—master criminal goes to work for the FBI.
6. What is a Snooki?
NORQUIST: New Jersey reality show star. I did have to double-check. No relation to the hirsute guy in Star Wars.
7. What was the first concert you ever attended and where did you sit and who went with you?
NORQUIST: Yes. Boston area. High school. I went with Larry Krakauer, Dana Carter and Julie Pendergast. Stage right, balcony level. I brought oranges to eat and was surprised when security tossed them out. I had this explained to me by older and wiser concertgoers.
8. What books are on your summer reading list?
NORQUIST: Complete works of O. Henry. Murder Most Scottish—a collection of murder mysteries.
9. If Republicans and Democrats had theme songs for 2011, what would they be?
NORQUIST: Democrats: “First I Look at the Purse”—key verse: “Money, (Money!) I want money (Money!)” by the J. Giles Band, 1965. Republicans: “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” original lyrics by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins. [Well-known cover sung by Billie Holiday.]
10. What’s the coolest thing you’ve been able to do because of your role in the political arena?
NORQUIST: Co-hosted with Dem Sen. [Russ] Feingold the welcoming party for the satirical newspaper The Onion‘s arrival in D.C. Performing standup comedy at the DC Improv as part of “D.C.’s Funniest Celebrity” contest.
11. What one thing would you do as President “just because you could”?
NORQUIST: Leave everyone alone. Make long lists every day of taxes I wouldn’t impose, laws I wouldn’t pass, regulations I wouldn’t promulgate and countries I wouldn’t occupy.
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
NORQUIST: Not certain, but head hurt, everything quite sticky, and older voice said, “It’s a boy.”