Political powerbroker Grover Norquist offers a compelling example of hiding behind false cries of racism in deflecting criticism this week. U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., made the unusual step of calling out Norquist during remarks Tuesday on the House floor.
The broader issue was the no-new-taxes pledge Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) promotes that has been signed by a majority of Republican lawmakers. That pledge, Wolf argued, helps keep the government "shackled in ideological gridlock" rather than seeking long term debt solutions.
In criticizing his foe, Wolf invoked a series of relationships Norquist had with Muslim political activists shown to be involved in terrorist support. Among them, Palestinian Islamic Jihad board member Sami Al-Arian and Abdurrahman Alamoudi, once the nation's most influential Muslim political figure, Alamoudi pleaded guilty in 2004 to illegal dealings with Libya and aiding a plot to assassinate then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
Norquist "served as a key facilitator" helping grant Alamoudi and Al-Arian access to the White House, Wolf said. These are specific references supported by a court record. But that didn't stop Norquist from crying bigotry.
"Some staffer of his went onto the racist websites, you know, dug up stuff from ten years ago," he told Yahoo News. "I'm married to a woman who's Muslim, and it's sad and it's disgusting. It reflects poorly on him. I think given his district, he's going to spend a lot of time apologizing for getting into the gutter and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry. I suppose this staffer who got this stuff off websites did as much chucking as the idiots who put it forward."
Here are Wolf's full prepared remarks. Before allowing Norquist to make accusations of anti-Muslim bigotry, he should be challenged to provide specifics. Wolf's remarks contain no blanket smear on anyone. Any reference to Islam or Muslims is tied to an organization's name, e.g. Alamoudi's American Muslim Council or Norquist's Islamic Free Market Institute.
In addition, Wolf criticized Norquist for is relationship with convicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, an observant Jew. Abramoff "essentially laundered money through ATR and Mr. Norquist knew it," Wolf said.
These relationships are relevant, Wolf said, because "the appearances of impropriety are raised over and over again with a person who has such influence over public policy. That, I believe, should give any fair-minded person pause."
You can see Wolf's floor statement here.