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Climbing up and climbing down.

Post in haste, repent in leisure; get blind drunk on righteous invective and climb up on the bar and spill your fury till the the dudgeon’s knee-high and rising, then wake up the next morning and wonder who the strange fellow is in your bed, and what foul taste is in your mouth. —Always check your fellow pitchforkers and torch-wielders: not because it’s unseemly to find yourself chanting slogans with the “wrong” crowd, but because it’ll help you get some perspective on the nature of the monster you’re gunning up against. When I read

About a year-and-a-half ago, people in the intelligence community came and said-guys like Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian and other terrorists weren’t being touched because they’d been ordered not to investigate the cases, not to prosecute them, because there were being funded by the Saudis and a political decision was being made at the highest levels, don’t do anything that would embarrass the Saudi government.

—I immediately started thinking about stonewalling 9/11 investigations and flying Bin Ladens around the country and the Carlyle Group and I went off the deep end. What I should have been thinking about was Alamoudi and al-Arian and the USA PATRIOT Act, and what I’d be saying if it weren’t Grover “drown it in the bathtub” Norquist in the hot seat.

Yes, it’s an ugly mess. Neither Alamoudi nor al-Arian are sacrificial lambs to bigotry and religious intolerance—but neither can I chuck them as evil evil bad bad traitors and throw away the key. Claims of moral clarity are always suspect. Nothing is ever clearly cut. Alamoudi could be a callow opportunist, and al-Arian a naïve fool; treason is a serious charge, and what it’s said they’ve done is no more in the name of destroying America than it is in the name of justice and liberty or a fast buck or self-aggrandizement. Let’s face it: the American government such as it is currently has a certain tarnish about its credibility when it comes to making these claims. There is doubt, and Alamoudi and al-Arian deserve the benefit of it. —And Grover Norquist could as easily and as genuinely believe that government has no business condemning a person for their associations and affiliations, and he could as earnestly and honestly believe that supporting these men was (and perhaps still is) a good way to get to the better America and the better world he sees when he closes his eyes. “In any case,” says Joshua Micah Marshall of Norquist, “after 9/11 came along he probably realized that he might have gotten tied up with at least a few questionable characters. But he was too proud to admit he’d been naïve and then just dug himself deeper,” and Lord knows if you have to listen to him or me on something like this, please, please listen to him.

We are all hypocrites, we all do monumentally stupid things for reasons the angels could not assail. Treason is a serious charge. There’s doubt, and, God help me, much as I loathe and despise Grover Norquist and all things Norquististic, he deserves the benefit of it. I can’t in good conscience call him a traitor, not literally, not by the book of Article III, Section 3. (The devil on my shoulder whispers in my ear, “Not yet,” but we shall ignore it.) —And since naïvete and foolish pride isn’t illegal; since insisting on the moral equivalence of progressive taxation and genocide isn’t against the law; since it isn’t a crime to take cheap shots at people with more moral courage than you will ever know, well: I’m thinking maybe I should dial down the let-him-rot-in-jail rhetoric. (“For the moment,” sneers the devil. —It remains to be seen, after all. In the final analysis.)

(Do I still want the head of Grover Norquist? Geeze, I dunno. What the fuck would I do with it?)

But! I am not climbing down from the rooftops yet. His work as a tax “reformer” is morally hollow. What he’s wrought with his misguided, solipsistic, beast-starving rhetoric is a blight on our country and its political landscape; it’s a deadly threat to everything I hold dear. I’m still serious about the frogmarching and the pelting with garbage and the tar and the feathers and the riding him out of town on a rail.

Next Thursday good for you?

  1. Kevin Moore    Oct 25, 09:23 PM    #
    (Do I still want the head of Grover Norquist? Geeze, I dunno. What the fuck would I do with it?)

    John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King has a scene in which one finds a delightful suggestion: Play polo with it! (If you've seen the movie, it's quite a vivid thought to imagine Grover's head getting batted around like that.)

  2. sean    Oct 26, 03:12 PM    #
    Sounds kinda like you're feeling a kind of buyer's guilt over your "norquisted" feelings.
    Personally, I enjoyed your rant, however premature, and would urge you to remember the truism that the wheels of justice gring slowly and exceedingly fine.
    This grinding will, of course, be conflicted by those, as you point out, have cheapened and blurred the discourse. But, within the evolving ideas of what may have been going on is the realization that this very blurry disembling may, indeed, have been shaped by our radical moslem opposition. Take from Newt, and, repeat this concept at every opportunity.
    I enjoyably discovered recently that Mr. Norquist is "diminutive", according to The Shadow in a cap hill newspaper (The Hill). When his head falls it will not have far to go!

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