"Who says that? Who thinks like that?" This was ex-Green Jobs Czar Van Jones's response to a quote he attributed to Grover Norquist saying we should "shrink America's government to the size that we can drown it in a bathtub."
Norquist is a Spectator contributor and the president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, a taxpayer advocacy group. He is also credited with (or in this case, blamed for) the creation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, whose signers-a collection of political candidates and incumbent office holders-have promised not to vote for tax increases.
Needless to say, Jones was horrified by Norquist's "bathtub" comment, and he spent a good portion of his July 6th speech at the Campus Progress national conference climbing onto the Norquist-bashing bandwagon.
Equally horrified by Norquist's tax pledge, which a number of Republicans have signed, Jones characterized it as a commitment by signatories that "...no matter what happens to our country, they will never vote to increase tax revenues for America's government."
Jones went on:
Now look, I used to serve in government. I signed a pledge; I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States....and to the American people. I didn't sneak around behind the door and sign another one to somebody else. But you have Republicans who have signed this tax pledge to this man...
Jones is wrong, though, to suggest that Norquist's pledge supersedes any politician's oath of office, or even to assert that the pledge is a promise to Norquist. In reality, although Norquist's organization monitors the pledge and its signers, it constitutes a commitment made by individual candidates to their constituents.
Jones further accused tax pledge signers of having "dual loyalty". They profess loyalty to the country, he said, "but they have another agenda that is not about preserving the American dream." This agenda, according to Jones, is based on Norquist's goal of drastically shrinking government.
"You are the real patriots....Your generation has been standing up for liberty and justice for all. You're the patriots," Jones continued, addressing the crowd of liberal youth to which he spoke and insinuating that Norquist and company do not really have the nation's best interests at heart.
Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota also jumped on the anti-Norquist bandwagon at the conference. Referencing Jones' speech, Ellison charged, "These same people who want to shrink government 'till you can drown it in a bathtub also want...mom...to get back in the kitchen and take her shoes off and get pregnant....They are offended by...strong, powerful women."
Ellison admitted that some of "these same people" are women-Michele Bachmann, for instance-but he only described this as "sad", not a reason to believe they are not sexists.