David Frum

05.03.13

Is Grover Norquist Powerful?

Noam Sheiber takes up the age-old Beltway question:

Pundits and wishful-thinking Democrats have been predicting Norquist’s obsolescence for the better part of a decade. But the idea of Norquist losing influence misses the point. Norquist has never been powerful, at least not in the sense of commanding divisions or cracking heads on close votes. His talent has always been for creating the illusion of influence. For the 25 years in which anti-tax orthodoxy has reigned supreme in the Republican ranks, Norquist has distinguished himself mainly through his savvy at associating himself with the trend. Not surprisingly, now that some in the GOP periodically question the party’s anti-tax catechism (though they stop well short of abandoning it), Norquist’s chief preoccupation isn’t defending the faith. It’s protecting his image as a leader of the faithful.

But really, power is just:

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