The move to impeach Barack Obama is moving forward — either in this term or, Heaven forfend, in the next. This week, one of the most influential conservative heavyweights raised the prospect of ignobly kicking the president out of office between elections. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform is the author of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a promise signed by hundreds of office-seekers that under no circumstances will they raise taxes. On Thursday, Norquist told the National Journal:
NJ: At the end of 2012, a number of major tax provisions, including the Bush-era cuts, are set to expire. Do you have any predictions?
NORQUIST: We’re focused on the fact that there is this Damocles sword hanging over people’s head. What you don’t know is who will be in charge when all of this will happen. I think when we get through this election cycle, we’ll have a Republican majority, [though] not necessarily a strong majority in the Senate, and a majority in the House. The majority in the House will continue to be a Reagan majority, a conservative majority. Boehner never has to talk his delegation going further to the right.
If the Republicans have the House, Senate, and the presidency, I’m told that they could do an early budget vote—a reconciliation vote where you extend the Bush tax cuts out for a decade or five years. You take all of those issues off the table, and then say, “What do you want to do for tax reform?”
Then, the question is: “OK, what do we do about repatriation and all of the interesting stuff?” And, if you have a Republican president to go with a Republican House and Senate, then they pass the [Paul] Ryan plan [on Medicare].
NJ: What if the Democrats still have control? What’s your scenario then?
NORQUIST: Obama can sit there and let all the tax [cuts] lapse, and then the Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach. The last year, he’s gone into this huddle where he does everything by executive order. He’s made no effort to work with Congress. (Emphasis added.)
Grover is no fly-by-night gadfly. He is one of the most powerful figures on the right-flank of the Republican Party. As his profile on Wikipedia states:
Norquist was listed as one of the five primary leaders of the post-Goldwater conservative movement by Nina Easton in her 2000 book, “Gang of Five”. Working with eventual Speaker Newt Gingrich, Norquist was one of the co-authors of the 1994 Contract with America, and helped to rally grassroots efforts, which Norquist later chronicled in his book Rock the House. Norquist also served as a campaign staff member on the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Republican Platform Committees.
Simply put, when Grover speaks, D.C. Republicans listen.
Norquist is a single-issue conservative. Although he has been associated with other intellectual undercurrents and movements — for instance, his support for anti-Communists in the 1980s and his more recent service in the National Rifle Association — he eats, sleeps, and breathes tax policy. In this week’s comments, he has laid down a potent marker for the president: If Obama goes forward with his plan for “job-killing tax increases” in 2013, Norquist will see that he is consigned to an early retirement.
It’s enough to make me wish momentarily that Obama had already raised taxes.
– Ben Johnson, The White House Watch.
Vice President Joe Biden has been missing in action for some time. Now we know why. Biden has run for president twice, in 1988 and 2008, and has not ruled out running a third time in 2016. But the Democrats’ Harold Stassen just made a peculiar campaign move: He told a public audience that, when asked, he told Barack Obama not to launch the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. Describing the situation room, he said:
The president, he went around the table with all the senior people including the Chiefs of Staff. He said, “I have to make this decision. What is your opinion?” He started with the National Security adviser, the Secretary of State, and he ended with me. Every single person in that room hedged their bet, except Leon Panetta. Leon said, “GO!” Everyone else said “49/51,” this…
It got to me. Joe what do you think? I said, “You know, I didn’t know we have so many economists around the table. We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there.”
He walked out and said, “I’ll give you my decision.” The next morning, he came down to the diplomatic entrance getting in the helicopter, I believe to get to Michigan, and he turned to Tom Donnel and said…”Go.”
Knowing that, as loyal as everyone is around that table, when pressed and when books are written later that would’ve said, “I didn’t tell him to do that.”
Why would a politically ambitious climber like Joe Biden say something so self-defeating? Because he realizes his only hope for being elected president is to serve two terms as vice president. The gaffe-prone veep of a failed president seldom gets elected: ask Walter Mondale. But the vice president of a two-term president enters the race with substantial advantages. (George H.W. Bush, Al Gore.) But Obama’s presidency has been a low-tide for the nation he “leads.” Incomes and employment rates are down; government dependence is up; and American morale is barreling toward hopelessness.
The only successes he has had, which he wants to campaign on, are in foreign policy, especially Osama bin Laden’s death. Since ordering the team to go forward is the most obvious call a president could make, he has to bolster his “gutsy” call by inventing voices of dissent that begged him not to take this bold, unprecedented step.
Enter the veep.
Biden told the crowd that Obama understood “literally the presidency” was at stake, so “he pulled the trigger.”
“This guy doesn’t lead from behind,” he said. “He just leads.”
In fact, Obama dithered for 16 hours while the military waited for him to make a decision. As they pushed him for an answer, Obama replied, “I’m not going to tell you what my decision is now – I’m going to go back and think about it some more. I’m going to make a decision soon.” Ever since SEAL Team 6 did its duty, he has presented himself as a combination of Rambo, Chuck Norris, and the Lone Ranger rolled into one.
Biden and Valerie Jarrett both urged him against the mission. One is a knave, the other is a fool, and their boss is mistaken if he believes the American people believe he is either a decisive leader or worthy of the office he holds.
The Republican Establishment sees the 2012 presidential nomination process breaking wide open and it’s panicked. In one last, desperate attempt to reassert control of the party from the Tea Party, the Establishment is floating another presidential candidate: Mitch Daniels.
The party leadership tapped Daniels to give the GOP response to the State of the Union Address — and his performance shows why he would be such a perfect choice for the Establishment and a disastrous choice for the party.
Daniels’ speech referred to himself and his followers as the “loyal opposition,” twice. “The status of ‘loyal opposition’ imposes on those out of power some serious responsibilities,” he intoned. Not the least of these is “to show respect for the presidency and its occupant, to express agreement where it exists. Republicans tonight salute our president, for instance, for his aggressive pursuit of the murderers of 9/11.” 
Eschewing any ideological differences and downplaying the gulf separating the two parties, Daniels said, “The challenges aren’t matters of ideology, or party preference; the problems are simply mathematical, and the answers are purely practical.” This calls to mind another former governor turned presidential candidate: Michael Dukakis. In his 1988 convention speech, Dukakis said, “This election isn’t about ideology. It’s about competence.” A bland, technocratic governor was a loser then (thank God), and would be a loser again today.
Like Dukakis, Daniels looked stiff, dull, gray, ashen, and virtually lifeless. Worse, his address dredged up the worst compromising, middle-of-the-road tradition of the Republican Establishment’s ghosts of lost campaigns past.
What does Governor Daniels want to do? He said, “we must unite to save the safety net. Medicare and Social Security have served us well, and that must continue. But after half and three quarters of a century respectively, it’s not surprising that they need some repairs.”
That has been the GOP Establishment’s crie de coeur since Alf Landon promised to make the New Deal run better in 1936. (He lost the biggest Electoral College landslide in history.) His call was picked up by Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey, Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain – a team that, between them, won one presidential election.
Daniels went on to blame his own party. He siad, “to make such action happen, we also must work, in ways we Republicans have not always practiced, to bring Americans together.” He added, “We will speak the language of unity.”
“Let us rebuild our finances, and the safety net, and reopen the door to the stairway upward; any other disagreements we may have can wait,” he insisted.
Daniels is the same man who called for a social issues truce — which always means a conservative unilateral surrender, as the forces of social revolution stream forward.
His feckless address quickly made an unforced error. He condemned Obama’s “extremism,” because “unless they stop us, we might pick the wrong light bulb.” Of course, the incandescent light bulb ban was the act of a Republican, Michigan’s Rep. Fred Upton, who later changed his mind on the idea. It was signed by George W. Bush, Daniels’ former boss, whose allies are now promoting him for president and publicly goading him to enter the race. (Daniels was budget director under George W. Bush, when spending continued to surge.)
Despite these massive flaws — or rather because of them — Charles Krauthammer called Daniels’ address “one of the best speeches I’ve heard as a response to the State of the Union.” (Despite his stance as resident Solomon on Fox News, Krauthammer is a pro-abortion, pro-homosexual advocate who formerly wrote speeches for Walter Mondale.)
The unearned plaudits continued. On Wednesday, on Fox News Channel’s Your World with Neil Cavuto, pollster Frank Luntz tried to prove Daniels’ viability by showing how popular his comments on the “loyal opposition” were – with Democrats. (I’m certain they were.) He added that it was a presentation “without the aggressiveness” [sic.] often seen when other Republicans speak. (That it was.)
Daniels is The Great RINO Hope. Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour were the GOP Establishment’s bush-league team, after Jeb Bush could not run and Tim Pawlenty floundered.
Barbour’s recent pardon scandal shows how RINOs govern: badly. Daniels’ speech shows how RINOs campaign: weakly. The natural will to survive within any conservative should tell him how the RINO Establishment deserves to be treated: brutally.
1. Daniels also honored Obama’s “strong family commitment” – which I give him. In one year, he adopted a new dog, moved in with his mother-in-law, and stopped smoking. Even someone as opposed to his policies as I am can appreciate that. And Obama has certainly shown solicitous care for his big, illegal family members, like Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Omar.
– Ben Johnson, The White House Watch.