Conservatives and people of all higher incomes are mourning the loss of one of their own today: Grover Norquist. The founder of Americans for Tax Reform reportedly drowned himself in his bathtub, despondent over the outpouring of government aid to victims of Hurriane Katrina. Friends of the anti-tax activist say that he rallied briefly last week upon learning that President Bush was suspending the prevailing wage for Gulf coast redevelopment projects before succumbing to despair.
A childhood spent cowering in fear of 'the tax man'
By Howard Ogilvie, Swift Report obituary writer
WASHINGTON, DC--Conservatives and Americans of all higher incomes are morning the loss of one of their own today, Grover Norquist. The founder of Americans for Tax Reform reportedly drowned himself in his bathtub, despondent over the outpouring of government aid to victims of Hurriane Katrina. Friends of the anti-tax activist say that Mr. Norquist was devastated in the aftermath of the storm as the mainstream media consistently exaggerated the plight of those displaced by the hurricane, and all but ignored the most vulnerable Americans--those vicitmized by the Estate Tax.
'The rich suffer most'
"He just screamed at his TV that whole week after the storm hit," says one long-time friend of Mr. Norquist. "They'd keep showing shots of the Superdome and Grover would yell 'show the mansions! Show the real victims here!'" But shots of the real victims never came, and a week after Katrina first came ashore, Congressional leaders announced that they were putting off plans to permanently repeal the Estate Tax, meaning that the richest 1% of Americans would continue to suffer. "That really did it for him," says the friend. "He started wearing all black and listening to really angry heavy metal."
A brief rebound
Friends of the tax foe say that he rebounded briefly last week when President Bush announced that he was suspending the prevailing wage for rebuilding efforts in the Gulf region. But ultimately even that good news wasn't enough to resuscitate Mr. Norquist's flagging spirits. "The prospect of workers receiving low pay seemed to cheer him up," says a friend, "but they're still going to be receiving benefits and that really weighed on him at the end."
Young Grover's first words: 'tax' and 'cuts'
Mr. Norquist has been an anti-tax activist since his early days in Weston, MA, a suburb of Boston that has long ranked among the richest communities in the US. A family legend has that among the first words spoken by young Grover were 'tax' and 'cuts.' A source close to the family says that Mr. Norquist's fear of the taxman was such that he slept with the light on until he was 13, so afraid was he that his toys, books or favorite pajamas might be seized, the victims of an illegal 'taking.' "He figured that if he kept the light on through the night, he would at least be able to see the taxman when he came in," says the family friend.
A sunny personality
In recent years, Mr. Norquist relied on a sunny disposition and a charming personality to rally the nation around a positive platform. One standout idea: reducing the federal government to a size where it could be easily dragged into a bathroom "and drowned in a bathtub." "It's good that he's not here to see the government responding to the hurricane by extending unemployment benefits and financial assistance," says a former friend. "His heart would have broken."