“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eric Cantor's WSJ Interview

Last weekend's 'Weekend Interview,' by Steve Moore, was GOP House leadership member Eric Cantor of Virginia.

One could wax on at length about Cantor's comments. I'm a huge fan of both Cantor and Moore, and can only guess how much fun they both had in the interview.

For me, though, the major insight came near the end. Moore was probing about how Cantor really gets along with Boehner. Specifically, he wrote,

"I can't avoid asking about the rumors that his relationship with Mr. Boehner has become prickly. "First, I support Boehner as speaker, period. And it's a good working relationship," Mr. Cantor says. But he doesn't deny there are policy disagreements, which he attributes to the fact that "he's in a different generation." Then he hastens to add: "It's the Democrats who are in utter disarray right now . . . Pelosi can't hold her caucus together. We're the ones who are unified." "

You can almost hear Cantor's relief when he seizes on Pelosi and the Democrats, thus steering the conversation completely away from Boehner's values and policies.

A few days later, on CNBC one morning, Cantor was drilled about the differences in values between him and Boehner. About earmarks, and why they weren't in the Pledge.

Well, in Moore's interview, he quotes Cantor as saying,

"Don't mistake this year's Republican caucus with next year's," Mr. Cantor responds. "We're going to do real earmark reform even though it was missing from the pledge. If you look at the makeup of the conference right now, and then add on that the incoming freshmen class, those folks aren't coming to Washington [for]....pork-barrel spending. They really aren't."

I believe Cantor's right. I also believe he is simply ignoring the obvious- that those same freshmen who will force earmark reform, probably over Jerry Lewis' still-warm corpse, will also, without prompting, vote for Cantor to be the next Speaker.

It's even reasonable that the three authors of the just-released "Young Guns" book, of which Cantor is one, will brace Boehner, if the latter is allowed, against common sense, to be elected Speaker by a GOP House majority.

I think Cantor is simply biding his time, saying the right things in public, giving nobody, least of all Boehner, cause to eject him from the caucus pre-emptively.

But after the election, if the GOP retakes the House, look for Cantor to be open to running a close second to Boehner come the post-swearing-in GOP leadership elections.

Cantor knows most of the prospective incoming GOP Representatives won't prefer Boehner to one of the Young Guns. Ryan's a bit too wonky and focused on the budget.

No, Cantor is the best choice for Speaker in a GOP-controlled House come January.

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