My Favorite Grover

A great deal of ink has been spilled these past few years over the influence of Grover Norquist – the philosophical guru of the modern GOP, the intransigent tax-a-phobe who would most likely kill his own son for so much as proposing a 1.5% tax on the producers of snuff films in order to fund the world’s largest statue of Ronald Reagan. Love him or hate him, I think everyone can agree on one thing: Grover is one badass name. Since he isn’t the first famous Grover, I thought it might be fun to play a little game of “Rank the Grover.” Here is a list of famous Grovers – you can decide for yourself which Grover is the Goveriest:

–         Grover Norquist

I first became acquainted with this Grover from reading his now-famous quote: “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Now, I may not agree with the idea of straight-up murdering the government, but I do appreciate a well-turned phrase. This guy sure knows how to describe a murder with panache! Any hack could speak of drowning the government in a lake or a swimming pool, but an analogy using such a large body of water implies that the government might be big enough to put up a struggle. Well, Grover Norquist does not drown things that can fight back! Apparently he has thought this drowning through, and he knows well enough that anything you can fit into a bathtub will be easy to drown. Why does Grover Norquist have so much expertise drowning things in bathtubs? That’s a personal matter between Grover and his local police department.

He is credited with creating the hugely influential lobby “Americans for Tax Reform,” but I’m not quite sure if he is the cause or merely a symptom of the phenomenon of Washingtonlobbyists turning the word “American” into an epithet. Perhaps he was the first asshole to name his lobby “Americans for _______,” but I doubt it. The first lobbyists undoubtedly came to this country on the Mayflower; perhaps their first organization was even named “Americans for Witch Burning.” All I know is that I’m sick of these lobbies and super-PACs using the word “American.”[1] Look, I get it: you’re American, and you’re for something. I’m American too, and I’m also for certain things. How about you find a candidate who’s for what you’re for, and vote for him; I’ll do the same, and we’ll call it “democracy.”

Grover is best known these days as the man behind the no-tax pledge. This is no metaphor: there is an actual piece of paper each Republican worth his salt must sign, pledging never raising taxes under any circumstances. Grover isn’t a Republican, per se – his loyalty is to the pledge, not the party. President George H.W. signed Grover’s pledge, and then famously stabbed poor Grover in the back by raising taxes. Well, Grover got his revenge, delighting in Bush’s reelection loss to Bill Clinton. Bush’s loss, Grover said, proved that “this is one promise a politician can’t break.” Ha! Take that, Bush! You violated the only oath you ever took that really mattered. That other oath you took – that you would faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and would to the best of your ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – just got f’ed in the a!

Grover’s secret world of unbreakable oaths certainly sparks the imagination. What are the inner workings of his no-tax pledge society? What of their secret initiation ceremonies? We know that Yale’s “Skull and Bones” society uses the skull of Geronimo; whose skull does Grover Norquist use – Barry Goldwater’s? This looks like a job for author Dan Brown. I’m calling you out, Dan: you’ve already tackled the Knights Templar, Freemasons and the Illuminati, and now I want you to write a novel about the Grover Norquist Promise Keepers. Take us inside their bizarre ceremonies- the Reagan masks, the silver goblets filled with the blood of albino virgins, the Grover myth of creation, told through interpretive dance.[2] And let’s not forget the ceremonial orgy – we all know that’s what gives the no-taxers their power. Some might blanch at the idea of a bunch of old white dudes having sex with each other: Isn’t that gay sex? Don’t these guys make their political bones by turning voters against homosexuals? It’s a common mistake to make, but the simple fact is that there’s nothing “gay” in a bunch of guys having sex with each other…so long as they’re doing it in the name of tax reform.

–         Grover Cleveland

 You might know him as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States – so nice, we counted him twice. Nowadays he’s best known for his non-conescutiveness, and for being the inspiration of one of Abraham Simpson’s better old-timey jokes: “In my day we got spanked by presidents ‘til the cows came home. Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occasions.” There are, however, a few other things of note about the only Grover to be elected president.

GroverClevelandwas one of only three men inUShistory to win the popular vote in three different presidential elections – bonus points if you can name the other two. He won the Electoral College in 1884 and 1892. During the 1888 election he received what we now call “the Al Gore treatment” – winning the popular vote, but narrowly losing the Electoral College to Benjamin Harrison, while the one state in the balance (Indiana) seemed to be rife with all kinds of election-day shenanigans.

It is also interesting to note that Grover Cleveland was the only Democrat elected president during the fifty year period following the Civil War (1861-1913.) Remember that, Democrats, the next time you complain that your side rarely wins elections these days. Of course, each party’s ideology wasn’t quite as rigid back in those days. GroverCleveland was elected as a pro-business, anti-labor Democrat – he and Grover Norquist probably would have been good buddies.

Furthermore, the most prominent Republican of the time was Theodore Roosevelt, a man so progressive he broke away to form his own Progressive Party. It might not surprise you to find out Grover Norquist isn’t much of a T.R. fan. His stated goal is to bringAmericaback to what it was “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over – the income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.” I guess we know which face Grover Norquist would dynamite offMt.Rushmorefirst. Grover just wants to take us back to a better time – which, according to him, is the late1800’s. That certainly was a freer time in America: 10-year-olds had the freedom to work in coal mines, meat companies had the freedom to sell you tainted meat; Coca-cola had the freedom to spike their drinks with cocaine, states were free from federal interference and activist judges (free to enact Jim Crow laws); women were free from oppressive burden of voting.

–         Grover Cleveland Alexander

Clearly he was the greatest of the 16 Major leaguers ever to be called Grover. Before I learned of Grover Norquist, this was probably my least favorite Grover. I still haven’t forgiven him for striking out Yankees 2B Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of Game 7 of the 1926 World Series, winning the title for the St. Louis Cardinals. But even a lunatic Yankee fan like me would find it hard to argue with his Hall of Fame resume:

–         373 wins(3rd all time)

–         90 shutouts (NL record)

–         Lifetime 2.56 ERA

And his record would look a hell of a lot better if he hadn’t been drafted into the army during the prime of his career to fight in WWI. While serving inFrance, a German shell exploded near his ear, costing him part of his hearing and triggering an onset of epilepsy. After the war he returned to the mound and managed to pitch through epileptic fits, shell shock and his own alcoholism. Truly, this Grover was a badass.

–         Grover the Muppet

Look, I love Muppets…but I must admit that Grover doesn’t do much for me. To me he’s the other blue one on Sesame Street; the one who isn’t Cookie Monster. Give me Cookie Monster any day of the week. If I made a list of my favorite Muppets, I doubt Grover would even crack top 20. Still, I’ll take a mediocre Muppet over an accomplished human any day of the week.

In conclusion, my personal Grover Ranking would go thusly:

  1.  Muppet
  2. Cleveland (Alexander)
  3. Cleveland (regular)
  4. Norquist

[1] Karl Rove’s super-PAC is called “American Crossroads.” The only way I will ever respect that group is if Rove goes on TV to announce he named his group after the Bone, Thugs and Harmony song “Tha Crossroads.”

[2] “In the beginning, there was the god Free Enterprise and the goddess Laissez-Faire Capitalism. They had a child and they named it America. But the evil witch called the Welfare Queen seethed in her ivory federal tower, and sent her evil flying monkeys “Death Tax” and “Civil Rights Act of1964” to kill the child…”