Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Over The Edge

The defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a primary is reverberating through the halls of Congress and the TV studios.  It was fun to watch the folks on the TV gasp for air as the election results came in.

It’s fair to say that there is a whole lotta schadenfreude going on among those of us who have been waiting for some insurgent to slip over the wall and scatter the GOP leadership like a cat among the pigeons.  This basically insures that the Republicans will now have to run even further to the right in the mid-terms than they were already going to.  And that will be good for the Democrats.

Immigration reform, which barely had a chance as it was, is not only not going to happen this year, it’s probably not going to happen during the remainder of the Obama presidency.  Dave Brat, the man who beat Mr. Cantor (and whose name seems to have been chosen by Charles Dickens), ran on an anti-immigration platform, branding any accommodation for undocumented immigrants — even children — as “amnesty.”  Not only is that bad for the people who would be helped by immigration reform, especially the children of undocumented immigrants who are here through no fault of their own, it puts the Republicans in a big bind.  This was the one thing that they could have used to reach out to Hispanic voters and get them to vote for them.  Now is it not only gone from being passed to being trashed, the GOP is going to run against it just to shore up their base and fend off any more Brat-style attacks from the right.

Not that it was going to do anything anyway, action from Congress is now shut down until January at the earliest.  They might as well just go home and turn the place over to Disney to shuttle the tourists through for the summer.  Mr. Cantor’s job as majority leader was to decide what bills to bring to the floor of the House and now that he’s got nothing left to live for, he’ll have no incentive to do much more than pack up his office.  You’ve got a better chance of getting a pony from Santa than you do of getting anything through Congress now.

In true classy style, the Tea Party is having a feast on the news.  This will embolden them, and it could even effect the outcome of the run-off in the Senate race in Mississippi between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel, and overshadow the fact that a lot of “establishment” Republicans like Lindsay Graham of South Carolina are fending off Tea Party challengers.  All it takes is one win like Mr. Brat and there is new life in them.  We could see a whole new crop of nuts growing over the summer.

What the giddy victors are forgetting is that this was a primary; there’s still the general election, and if the past two election cycles are any guide, the more far right the candidate, the less chance they have of winning that race; just ask Sens. Sharron Angle of Nevada, Richard Mourdock of Indiana, Todd Akin of Missouri, and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware.  Even if Mr. Brat wins the general election, the Virginia 7th district goes from having one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress to the newest kid on the block.  The power doesn’t come with the seat, and Mr. Brat — assuming he wins — would be lucky to have an office above ground in the House Office Building.

So break out the popcorn, kids; this election is going to be fun to watch… as long as you don’t care about what’s not getting done by the people we’ve elected to represent us.

8 barks and woofs on “Over The Edge

  1. Cantor’s district is a semi-rural fever swamp of Tea. One of the great mysteries of the recent Congresses is his position as majority leader. Seniority aside, there’s little to recommend him: his district excludes most of the major population hubs (Fredericksburg, Richmond and Charlottesville all fall either mainly or entirely outside the district) and there’s no especial large business or public sector entity in the district, so outside having state legislators’ in-session residences and defense contractors’ country houses as possible neighbors, his world is fairly isolated. The district is about as Deep Red as you can get in Tidewater: solidly GOP since 1970, and the home to such notables as George “Macaca” Allen (Cantor’s predecessor in that seat, among other things). Brat – as a candidate from the district – doesn’t surprise me, but I would have thought that Cantor would be representative in more ways than just as officeholder.

    Benen is all over this item this morning, with some astute observations about a pol with national aspirations forgetting his own district: given what VA’s 7th looks like, forgetting one’s constituents doesn’t seem especially surprising.

    A mere 65,000 residents turned up to vote in the primary, and Brat’s margin was 7,000 votes (Benen’s “double digits” for Brat’s victory is overshadowed by the 700,000 resident tally which implies that the difference was 1% of the district’s population), so it sounds more like Cantor didn’t energize the primary electorate than that Brat did.

    • UPDATE: According to WaPo (via Benen), Cantor is resigning as Majority Leader at the end of July. The scramble to replace him has apparently begun – and it sounds like a remake of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

      More popcorn, please.

  2. A side note that may or may not have any significance: Cantor was the only Jew in Congress. Can we Democrats fire up the rabbis?

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