...in the aftermath of reports that Norquist served as a cash conduit for disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the irascible, combative activist is struggling to maintain his stature as some GOP lawmakers distance themselves and as enemies in the conservative movement seek to diminish his position.
"People were willing to cut him a lot of slack because he's done a lot of favors for a lot of people," said J. Michael Waller, a vice president of the right-leaning Center for Security Policy who for several years was an occasional participant at Norquist's Wednesday meetings. "But Grover's not that likable."
Are we in the twilight of the Norquist era?
But beneath the outward signs of normalcy, the infighting is taking a toll on Norquist's standing. Some social conservatives who have jousted with him over his more libertarian views on the regulation of television and its depictions of violence and depravity are exploiting his weakness to press their positions on Capitol Hill. Security-minded defense hawks who for years have questioned his ties to Muslim activists are resurrecting charges that Norquist has turned a blind eye to terrorist sympathizers.
Republican lawmakers who have chafed at his dogmatic position on taxes are also ready to shrug off his heavy hand. In recent interviews, a half-dozen conservative GOP lawmakers said they are consciously avoiding Norquist's meetings, and they have begun questioning the purity of an activist who has always portrayed himself as motivated by ideals, not money.
"For someone like Grover Norquist, his influence stems from the sense that he is not doing this for the money," said Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.). "To the extent that he may be seen playing both sides of an issue, that will give people
Well now let's be honest Sen. Sununu. The conservative circle of power in Washington has always known how the game was being played, and as long as you were discreet about it you were okay. But now this Abramoff stuff...well, it's just a wee bit much. And the press is paying too much attention. So...nice knowing you Grover? We'll see.