Wednesday, May 28, 2003

GOP leads charge in ideological war

"We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship," said Grover Norquist, a leading Republican strategist, who heads a group called Americans for Tax Reform.

"Bipartisanship is another name for date rape," Norquist, a onetime adviser to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said, citing an axiom of House conservatives.

Rep. Charlie Stenholm, a conservative [Texas] Democrat best known for siding with President Reagan against the liberals of the Democratic caucus in the 1980s, was left sputtering last week at DeLay's tactics. Complaining about a breakdown of trust and civility in the House, he asked, "Who is causing it in the House of Representatives? The same person or persons who are causing it in the Texas Legislature."

Stenholm's ire is explainable. The GOP can live with urban liberals such as Waters, Norquist said; it's moderates such as Stenholm who are its prime targets. If the Texas redistricting plan is adopted, Norquist said, "it is exactly the Stenholms of the world who will disappear, ... the moderate Democrats. They will go so that no Texan need grow up thinking that being a Democrat is acceptable behavior."

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