Wingnut Week In Review: So Long, Eric Cantor

Terrance Heath

As House Minority Leader Eric Cantor exits stage right, it seems appropriate to recall some of his most memorable wingnut moments. And as David Bratt waits in the wings, it’s a good a time as any to consider that nights of wingnuttia he’s likely to reach.

Eric Cantor - Caricature

Eric Cantor by DonkeyHotey @ Flickr

When Eric Cantor lost his primary reelection bid for the seat representing Virginia’s 7th congressional district to economic professor David Bratt, it was a defeat of historic proportions. Indeed, no sitting House Majority Leader had lost an election since 1899 — when the position was created. As John Boehner wept, the rest of Washington set about figuring out what such a stunning defeat meant, and predictably decided Cantor’s defeat meant everything and nothing.

But before he goes wherever his golden parachute takes him, let’s take a look back at Eric Cantor’s career as House Majority Leader. Just before the 2010 elections, Eric Cantor was hailed as one of the “young guns” of the GOP. He, along with Reps. Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy, represented a “new generation” of young(isn) conservatives who were the future of the GOP.

Conservative columnist Fred Barnes, in the foreword of their book Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders, described their roles as, “Cantor the leader, Ryan the thinker, McCarthy the strategist.” Four years later, Ryan is a failed vice presidential candidate, and McCarthy is already facing a conservative revolt over the likelihood that he will succeed Cantor. Meanwhile, Cantor has already announced that he will resign his leadership position, as he prepares to make way for one even crazier than him.

Actually Cantor was never so much crazy as he was clueless. Despite his reputation as a “policy wonk,” there were suspicions that it had more to do with the old mistaken assumption that “kids who wear glasses are smart.” Cantor never brought much to the table, other than the “hand-outs” for the 2010 summit on health care reform. His first attempt at leadership, a grand “rebranding” of the GOP dubbed the “National Council for a New America,”  was ripped apart by social conservatives in the GOP base, and hobbled by House rules before it go out of the starting gate. In fact, it never got out of the gate. Cantor suspended the group a year after it launched with great fanfare. And it’s still suspended.

So much for leadership. However, Cantor did morph into an effective water carrier for Wall Street, the one percent, and deficit hawks.

That’s what we’re losing in Cantor: not much. What we’re getting in David Brat is another story entirely. Televangelist Rick Joyner may liken Brat to the “greatest prophets” who arose “when ancient Israel fell into its deepest debauchery,” but fellow economists look askance at his “unusual” but “not impressive” resume. He runs a program funded by the BB&T Bank for the purpose of teaching the ideas of libertarian icon Ayn Rand. So, there’s gotta be lots more crazy there.

Here’s the rest of the best of wingnuttia this week.

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