Serve, Don't Dictate: Long-Time Conservative D.C. Insiders Need To Go

In a men’s room in Minneapolis, former Senator Larry Craig indignantly asked an undercover police officer: “Do you know who I am?” The cop didn’t know who Craig was, and many beltway bigshots should learn a lesson from that: time to lose the ego and take a hard look at how little you matter to the American voter.

I thought of Craig when reading how Grover Norquist has issued orders to potential Republican presidential candidates. Mike Huckabee is supposed to make sure that Republicans defeat Senator Blanche Lincoln or Arkansas, and Rudy Giuliani needs to run for governor of New York or pick someone else to do it.

Said Norquist:

What we’re going to be putting out is how many people have they campaigned for ... what have they done for the party? They will all do unending stuff for themselves. That’s never a question. The question is, "What will they do to help the broader movement?" I think any of these guys running for president who focuses on anything other than 2010 should be horse-whipped.

You got that?

Of course, the fact of the matter is that Huckabee, Romney, Pawlenty, and Palin have all expressed that now is not the time to be focusing on 2012. If you don't include D.C. insiders, political junkies, bloggers, and columnists who write about 2012 on a slow news day, Norquist’s injunction is already being followed.

With the exception of Palin, all of these people have been campaigning across the country for Republican candidates. Huckabee’s PAC has run phone banks for at least five candidates in the past year. Romney’s PAC has poured thousands into races across America.

But I’m sure they’ll step it up because Grover Norquist told them to.

Norquist tasked Huckabee with electing the second Republican senator in Arkansas since Reconstruction and ordered Rudy Giuliani to take Gracie Mansion. But Norquist didn’t give Mitt Romney an assignment to either win the special Senate election in Massachusetts or to oust Governor Deval Patrick. This is an oversight that high command will surely correct. After all, without the assistance of Mr. Norquist and similar D.C. insiders, how are these potential leaders of the free world to know how to proceed?

To be clear: Norquist, and many other right-leaning D.C. leaders such as David Keene of the American Conservative Union, serve an important purpose. Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform holds politicians' feet to the fire when they renege on anti-tax pledges and also provides great information on economic issues. Keene’s ACU gives us the inside scoop on where members of Congress vote on a wide spectrum of conservative issues.

The problem comes when these groups stop serving conservatives across America and start dictating to the grassroots.

They think they’re like Chuck Norris in his 2008 Huckabee endorsement spot: “Chuck Norris doesn’t endorse, he tells America how it’s gonna be.” While the Norris ad was playful, Washington insiders are serious.