Tue 10 Jun, 2014 07:01 pm
The Tea Party candidate, Dave Brat, an economics professor defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a congressional primary race.
This is, in terms of politics, a very big deal.
Immigration Reform is dead for some time to come, unless the Democrats can take back the House in November. Unlikely.
Who is going to fill the Republican Leadership void left by Cantor.
Just when the party establishment was sitting back with their scotch and cigars and congratulating themselves on beating back the riffraff...
Cantor has announced that he will not seek to run as a write-in candidate.
Good for him.
I liked Cantor, and hardly saw him as the RINO archetype.
A leadership position in congress carries with the power and perks, a difficult charge to fulfill when there is division within the caucus, and it's usually necessary for the person to be an immovable fixture in his or her district or state. It is, clearly, a role for someone who enjoys and thrives on politics more than legislating.
I certainly don't feel sorry for Cantor. It's impossible for me to feel sorry for politicians if their suffering is a result of politics. He won the elections for his seat some 12 times and so he was pretty much a fixture in his district, but apparently he didn't spend enough time there and either didn't have his finger on the pulse of his constituency or took them for granted.
Brat made much of his charge that Cantor was going to work with Obama on providing amnesty. I don't know much about Brat, but he's not quite the new kind of politician the early Teas Party movement promised. To my knowledge Cantor never gave any indication that he approved of or would agree to amnesty beyond giving illegal immigrants citizenship if they volunteered for and served honorably in the military. It's hard to imagine how anyone could have a problem with such a deal.
This was a pretty stunning development not only because Cantor lost do decisively, but because he was generally believed to be Boehner's heir apparent. The man who would be Speaker got tripped up by a political novice who spent his time in the district telling people what he stood for and what he could claim Cantor did as well.
He will serve out his term but relinquish the Leader's position in July. The Republicans will have selected his replacement before then. If you enjoy observing politics the scramble to fill his spot will be a treat.
One thing is clear, the majority of Cantor's Republican constituents don't like Obama and they really don't like the idea of amnesty. They are probably fairly representative of the overall Republican base and so Immigration Reform is dead. Any House Republican who may have been on the fence about reform has surely now fallen over into the "Hell No!" side.
Say what you will about John Boehner, but if achieving the position of Speaker of the House isn't proof of his political expertise, than the current state of the vacant Leader's position is.
Kevin McCarthy, the current Majority Whip is now the only candidate for the Leader's spot. McCarthy is from a Blue state (CA) has a conservative rating of 72% and is rightly seen as a member of the GOP Establishment.
Does his imminent assumption of the post belie my assertion made in the title of this thread?
No, and here's why. While McCarthy is a top tier politician in his own right, I feel certain that the withdrawal of more conservative Red state congressman from the race was based on assurances of some sort that the Establishment would support one of the withdrawn to take McCarthy's position of Whip.
Boehner's success was not so much having a trusted supporter in the role of Leader (although that's not a bad one) but in resolving the matter in so short a period of time and thereby removing the issue from the headlines and pundit columns.
Most Americans probably can't identify Boehner, let alone McCarthy or Pete Sessions, Raul Labrador, Jeb Hensarling; or Tom Price. If they have any idea who Eric Cantor is, it's only because his name has been in the news for the last several days. They probably don't give a fig about who is House Majority Leader or either party either.
However, Washington DC and the Media do, and they love politics. The Democrats were counting on using Cantor's defeat and the expected donnybrook over filling his position to drive home their message that Right-Wing Extremists have taken over the GOP
Yesterday Nancy Pelosi made this comment:"(This week's events showed)the Republican Party going even further to the right."
But replacing Cantor with McCarthy doesn't further that narrative (not that it will put a stop to it).
Much more importantly, it puts a very quick stop to the sort of party in-fighting that pundits of all stripes like to address in their columns. The message that was already being trotted out by the likes of E.J. Dionne, and Eugene Robinson echoed Pelosi’s comment and then some: The GOP is moving even further to the right and is in total disarray. The chances for Dems in November have just gotten much better.
Now the pundits who have been salivating over the prospect of numerous columns devoted to the self-destruction of the Republican Party have to wipe their mouths and turn their attention to issues of real significance i.e. the VA Scandal, the Bergdahl Deal, the debacle in Iraq, and all of the other messes that they've blithely dismissed as "phony scandals." Not that they will, or that they won't use them to somehow blame Republicans, but the real juicy columns will now be unavailable to them.
Although Americans may be blissfully ignorant of the political machinations of the respective party's leadership, constant braying about one political generality or another registers in their sub-conscious. Boehner was smart in depriving this issue of the air needed to bray.
There may be some further in-fighting about who now fills the Whip position, but only those truly dedicated to smearing the GOP will bother to cover it, and by so doing, subject themselves to ridicule. The story of how any one achieves the position of Whip may actually be interesting but it much better suited to a multi-page article in The Atlantic than a relatively short column in the Washington Post or New Your Times that will be perceived as boring or irrelevant.
Many are suggesting that there is irony to the reporting that Brat's win over Cantor was a victory for the Tea Party because none of the "Tea Party Organizations" even noticed him let alone gave him any significant support, but these are the people who conflate "Tea Party Organizations" with the Tea Party movement. The two are not the same and the former is nothing that the original members of the movement contemplated or desired. The organizations that have adopted the "Tea Party" name (too bad it couldn't have been collectively copyrighted after the very first rally) are, for the most part, simply vehicles for the same sort of professional politicians (or would-be political pros) with which the movement had lost faith, and derided. Brat may not have called himself a Tea Party candidate and he may not have been funded by Tea Party Organization money, but he espoused many of the ideal of the Tea Party movement, and if anyone other than Brat was a victor in his race, it was the movement.
Well, Kevin McCarthy of Ca. The "Establishment" candidate, and former Whip) got the Leader's position and Steve Scalise of La. is the new Whip.
Apparently Ted Cruz and a few other "hard-liners" are not happy with Scalise's victory but he is, by all estimates, more "conservative" than the man he defeated, the" Establishment" candidate Peter Roskam of Illinois. Roskam was Chief Deputy Whip. If there was more of a "Tea Paty" candidate than Scalise in the mix, it escaped my attention.
Of course. Democrats are categorizing both McCarthy and Scalise as "extreme right-wingers"
Cruz is too personally ambitious for my taste, and I feel certain he would be happy to become part of a new Establishment if he didn't have grander plans for the future. Too much the Obama mirror image.
Cruz will continue to stir things up because it gets him attention, but conservatives would be better served if he kept his focus on what is going on in the Senate and doing what he can there; without sticking his nose into the House's business.
In any case, the narrative and distraction of the Republican House divided was successfully knocked out of the batter's box, before it could get in more than a couple of swings.