GOP insiders and party activists are excited about today’s RNC chairman debate hosted by Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist will moderate the debate beginning at 1pm Eastern this afternoon at the National Press Club in Washington DC. The event will be broadcast on C-SPAN and streamed at RNCDebate.org. And lots of conservative Twitter users will be in attendance. HA round-up here. Questions ostensibly will come from grass-roots conservatives, though a heated battle broke out between Ron Paul supporters who want to focus on policy and electoral-driven Beltway strategists like Patrick Ruffini who only want “good” questions that focus on strategy. Chastises Ruffini:
Whether it’s Ron Paul Republicans or movement conservatives or moderates, my message to all is one and the same: the RNC is not a policymaking body — nor should it be. It cannot make Republicans in Congress spend less, worthy a goal as that might be. The RNC’s job is to win elections — period. That means the RNC is made up of good political people — not policy wonks — who with all due respect, you wouldn’t want making policy.
All the candidates for RNC Chairman are good conservatives. RNC members should choose the one who will win elections. As I’ve written over the last few days, technology, strategy, and tactics are not the only things — and success in these areas is inextricably linked to having a Republican message “we can believe in.”
I’ve had my disagreements with Ron Paul supporters, but I see nothing wrong with their desire to grill RNC candidates on issues that matter to them. The RNC may not be a “policymaking body,” but its policy positions drive “strategy” and “tactics” and donor outreach efforts.
Which brings us back to Grover Norquist and the unpleasant realities that these strategists and rebranding gurus and RNC candidates don’t want to talk about.
Party power player Norquist and the ATR propose to help fix the GOP’s problems.
Norquist is part of the problem.
Some of us have not forgotten how Norquist made common cause with the left-wing zealots at People for the American Way in a forum bashing the Patriot Act — and how he forged even more dangerous alliances in the name of Muslim GOP outreach. Flashback from my column in October 2003:
Alec “the Bloviator” Baldwin has a new bosom buddy: Beltway Republican strategist Grover Norquist.
The Bush-bashing actor-turned-activist and the Muslim vote-courting political organizer joined together at a Washington, D.C.-area conference last weekend to perpetuate bald lies about the Patriot Act and to oppose the “repressive” War on Terror (repressing terrorist suspects apparently being a bad thing).
Baldwin and Norquist’s panel, titled “Strange Bedfellows,” was sponsored by the ultraliberal group, People for the American Way (PFAW). When PFAW head and panel participant Ralph Neas ranted about the lack of judicial and Congressional oversight of the Justice Department’s terror investigations, the audience applauded passionately. According to National Review Online reporter Byron York, Baldwin (the “moderator”) then turned to Norquist for comment.
“Ditto,” Norquist replied. Never mind the flat-out falsity of Neas’ claim. The smarmy Baldwin looked at his panelists and proudly remarked: “Can’t you feel the love?”
…Norquist’s kissy-kissy partnership with a washed-up Hollywood Clintonite is the least of his unseemly alliances.
Consider: The conference they attended last weekend was hosted by the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF), which was co-founded in 1997 by Sami Al-Arian — the former University of South Florida professor charged earlier this year as a fund raiser and organizer for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group. The money Al-Arian allegedly raised went to terrorist operations overseas that killed at least two Americans. In 2001, Al-Arian’s NCPPF gave Norquist an award for his work to abolish the use of secret intelligence evidence in terrorism cases. Al-Arian was the keynote speaker. Insight investigative reporter Ken Timmerman says Norquist told the magazine he remains “proud” of the award.
Among other major participants and sponsors of the NCPPF conference was the American Muslim Council (AMC). In January, the group accused President Bush of “calling on God to kill innocent Iraqi children.” The next day, the group instructed mosque directors to block FBI counterterrorism efforts. Late last month, AMC founder Abdurahman Alamoudi was charged with illegally accepting money from Libya for his efforts to persuade the United States to lift sanctions against that nation. He also allegedly attempted to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars to Syria, which federal officials say was intended for delivery to Damascus-based terrorist groups.
Alamoudi’s arrest is part of a larger Justice Department investigation of terrorism funding focused on Saudi-backed Islamic foundations and businesses based in Herndon, Va. (Alamoudi is also responsible for founding the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council to “certify Muslim chaplains hired by the military,” including Capt. James “Youssef” Yee — charged last week with taking classified information home from Guantanamo Bay.) A so-called “moderate,” Alamoudi is on record praising the terrorist group Hezbollah and proclaiming: “We are all followers of Hamas.”
Norquist’s lobbying firm is registered as a lobbyist for Alamoudi. Alamoudi provided seed money for Norquist’s Islamic Institute, which shares space with Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform group. The institute is run by Alamoudi deputy and former AMC government relations director Khaled Saffuri. Saffuri and Norquist have worked closely with Bush senior adviser Karl Rove to give radical Muslim activists access to the White House. No doubt because of their efforts, Alamoudi was invited to a White House prayer service after the Sept. 11 attacks.
If any Democrat activist had such shady connections, conservatives would be on him like white on rice. Instead, Norquist has gotten away with smearing his critics — most notably, former Reagan official Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, one of the most decent and patriotic Republicans I’ve had the honor of meeting — as hatemongers.
Alamoudi pleaded guilty in 2004 to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Libya in violation of U.S. law and attempting to hide it from the government.
Another reminder from Insight magazine of how Norquist tried to silence those who questioned his reckless strategic decisions by branding them as racists and bigots:
Norquist was Alamoudi’s most influential Washington facilitator, authorities believe, noting that Norquist reminds friend and foe alike that he is close to the president’s powerful political strategist, Karl Rove.
Norquist, who previously has denied any suggestion that his work facilitated any wrongdoing, not only introduced Alamoudi to Washington GOP power circles but also Sammy Al Arian, whom prosecutors arrested earlier this year for alleged terrorist activities. Federal law-enforcement sources say they are focusing on some of Norquist’s associates and financial ties to terrorist groups.
Alamoudi ran, directed, founded or funded at least 15 Muslim political-action and charitable groups that have taken over the public voice of Islamic Americans. Through a mix of civil-rights complaints, Old Left-style political coalitions and sheer persistence, Alamoudi helped inch the image of U.S.-based Islamists toward the political mainstream and induced politicians to embrace his organizations. He sought to secure the support first of the Clinton administration in seeking to repeal certain antiterrorist laws, but when Bill Clinton failed to deliver, Alamoudi defected to Bush, then governor of Texas. Alamoudi and other Muslim leaders met with Bush in Austin in July , offering to support his bid for the White House in exchange for Bush’s commitment to repeal certain antiterrorist laws.
That meeting, sources say, began a somewhat strained relationship between the self-appointed Muslim leaders and the Bush team. Some senior Bush advisers voiced caution to Rove, who is said to have disregarded such concerns, seeing instead an opportunity to bring another ethnic and religious group into the GOP big tent. A photo of the Austin event shows Bush with Alamoudi standing over his left shoulder, flanked by the former head of the Pakistani Communist Party, several open supporters of the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups and other individuals Insight is trying to identify.
Canceled checks obtained by Insight show Alamoudi provided seed money to start a GOP-oriented Muslim group called the Islamic Institute, which Norquist originally chaired and now is led by former Alamoudi aide and former AMC staffer Khaled Saffuri. A White House memo obtained by Insight prepared for coordinating Muslim and Arab-American “public-liaison” events with the White House shows that the Islamic Institute was instrumental in establishing the connection. The memo, from early 2001, provides lists of invitees and the name, date of birth and Social Security number of each. Norquist, as the first chairman of the Islamic Institute, tops the list.
Alamoudi and others, including Norquist, tried to keep critics at bay by branding them as “racists” and “bigots.”
Will the next RNC chairman remain silent about Norquist’s security-undermining strategic alliances? Will the next RNC chairman openly reject the same race-card-playing strategies that have corrupted a money-grubbing party establishment? Or will the field of candidates kiss the ring and hold their tongues?
The guaranteed silence on these issues today will speak volumes.
The RNC debate is over. There was much pandering and kowtowing and pledging to increase minority outreach efforts.
What no RNC candidate would say:
I will never engage in “outreach” efforts at the cost of our security and sovereignty.