On his show tonight Hugh Hewitt led with a full hour devoted to a joint interview of Frank Gaffney and Grover Norquist regarding Gaffney’s Frontpage article (discussed below earlier today): “A troubling influence.”
The thesis of Gaffney’s article is that Norquist has worked on behalf of, and together with, an American fifth column of Islamists and Islamist organizations. According to Gaffney, Norquist has successfully sought to turn his political connections to the advantage of these Islamist individuals and organizations.
I first heard Gaffney present a skeletal version of this argument in person at the Conservative Political Action Conference this past January. Norquist appeared and responded later that day. As I recall, the gist of Norquist’s response was that Gaffney’s criticism of him was bigoted and that Gaffney’s criticism unfairly impugned his patriotism. Norquist tearfully invoked his family background in avowing his allegiance to the United States.
I was struck at the time by the vacuity of Norquist’s response. It is clear that Norquist is devoting substantial professional efforts to the advancement of interests that have brought him into close contact with a number of unsavory characters and placed him in circles where he has become acquainted with key Islamist players.
In his interview this afternoon, Hugh focused the inquiry on critical factual disputes that go to the heart of the issues raised by Gaffney’s column. Norquist flatly denied certain of Gaffney’s charges while avoiding others. Again, I was most struck by the rhetorical devices used by Norquist to respond to Gaffney.
When asked by Hugh about the American Islamic Council and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Norquist not only denied any connection but professed a kind of agnosticism about their means and ends that is utterly incredible — i.e., not believable. In his concluding remarks, Norquist raised irrelevant issues about the financial status of Gaffney’s organization.
Factual disputes are not usually susceptible of resolution in the kind of joint interview Hugh conducted with Gaffney and Norquist. Nevertheless, Norquist’s response to Gaffney’s charges on-air tonight is powerfully suggestive of the conclusion that Norquist’s response is lacking in candor. Hugh will replay the interview during the third hour of his show tomorrow night. Listen if you can and let us know what you think.
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