Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Eric Cantor now outside GOP mainstream

By Frank Moraes 

It is a funny old world. It seems upside down. It is as if the drunk dozing in an alley has more wisdom to offer that the local pastor. (Which may be true!) And that is the sense that I have today, at least in politics. When Eric Cantor starts sounding reasonable, anything seems possible. But it isn't really that the world is out of balance. Nor is it the case that Cantor is actually being reasonable. As I wrote just a few days ago, the Republican Party has gotten more and more nihilistic ever since Reagan. The critical phrase here is "more and more," because it is indeed getting worse.

Eric Cantor has long been one of the great examples of Republican nihilism. But the Republican Party seems now to have passed him by. Back in April, he put forward a bill to extend health insurance coverage to people with preexisting conditions. The idea was to make the Republicans look good while harming the overall framework of Obamacare. It would at least have put Democrats in a awkward position. It was a great example of old-fashioned political strategy. As much as I may disagree with what he wanted to accomplish, at least he was doing something that might work. The House Republicans would have none of it, however, and the bill was pulled without a vote. Since then, I think they've voted for a full repeal of Obamacare another three times or something.

Yesterday, I learned thanks to Steve Benen that Cantor thinks that a shutdown of the government is a bad thing. Can you imagine?! According to National Review, he said:

To get 60 votes in the Senate, you need at least 14 Democrats to join Republicans and pass a CR [continuing resolution] that defunds Obamacare. Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us. If and when defunding has 60 votes in the Senate, we will absolutely deliver more than 218 votes in the House.

If it weren't for the arm rests, I would have fallen out of my chair. Is he actually suggesting that shutting down the government for the purpose of "sending a message" is a bad idea?! The next thing you know, Cantor will switch parties. I mean, this short, two data point trend of Cantor's seems to indicate that he has some interest in doing something, and that puts him well outside the mainstream of his current party.

Of course, just look at how far expectations have fallen. All Cantor is doing is making political calculations. But that is a big deal. For a lot of the House Republican caucus, doing nothing -- with the inevitable result that it will destroy the whole system -- is the point of going to Washington! That and stopping abortion and lowering the corporate tax rate. (You know what they say: "To God, every corporate dollar is sacred.") In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king! Eric Cantor is that one-eyed man.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a drunk to discuss some problems in my life.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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