Robert Novak reports today that President Bush has turned to right-wing activist and longtime Abramoff partner Grover Norquist to help shore up his record low ratings:
While President Bush hits the road to build support, his spring offensive is bringing conservative activists and businessmen into the White House for briefings in small groups. “I’ve been in the White House more in the last two weeks than I was in the last two years,” Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform told this column. Norquist and conservative theoretician Jeffrey Bell were called into a meeting on the administration’s embattled immigration bill. Also attending were representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business.
When not advising Bush, Norquist is neck-deep in several high-profile corruption scandals. This month it was revealed that a second Indian tribal chief represented by Abramoff scored a “White House lunch date and a meeting with the President” in 2001 days after the tribe paid Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform $25,000 at Abramoff’s direction. Also this month, ethics watchdog CREW asked the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of Norquist’s group for helping Abramoff and Ralph Reed secretly fund an anti-casino campaign.
We can only assume that turning to Norquist isn’t what Bush allies had in mind when they called for “new blood” in the White House.