A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


What is Eric Cantor up to? UPDATE II

A bit off the well-trod path, but I found this post by Patrick Lang thought provoking. It takes a look at Virginia's 7th District, which Cantor "represents." Looking at the district, Lang asks how well he really represents them, and what are his real political goals."Do people in Eric Cantor's district really want him as their congressman? It seems like a mis-match. Cantor is a very smooth Richmond lawyer type. As the saying goes, "butter wouldn't melt in his mouth." He is always well spoken and eloquent, well dressed and is well heeled."The district is not like that. It stretches from the northern and western exurbs of Richmond far to the northwest through farm country, up through the Piedmont and over the Blue Ridge to include Page County in the Luray arm of the Shenandoah Valley....The district is 80% white. Incomes are modest. The population is mainly people whose ancestors have lived there for a long time. Typically, they live in small, well kept houses sited for a view of the countryside. The houses average around $130,000 in price. This is the heartland of the country of Jefferson's Virginia yeomen."UPDATE: TPM: "Behind the scenes, leading members of both parties have concluded that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is an impediment to resolving the debt limit standoff, and should back down. Now, Democrats are publicly calling for him to get real or go home."UPDATE !!: Glenn Thrush of Politico has this run-down of the debt wreck's major players, including Cantor, etc. Wonkies will enjoy reading it: "Debt Limit Talks: Reading Their Minds" Tom Stoppard might do justice to this after it's over and if the world is still solvent.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

What is Canter up too? Have you watched him lurking in the rear over Boenher's shoulder? Have you noted Boenher's strained look lately? "Yon Cassius has that lean and hungry look'... Boenher out by 9-1-11

OK - he's elected by 60% plus every time in an area that was previously a dem stronghold.Well, it's obvious - those morons are being fooled by this slick lawyer!Did it ever occur to NYC sophisticates that all those benighted yokels in fly-over country think the same thing about you when they listen to the likes of Anthony Weiner, Charles Rangle, and Jerry Nadler?

Read the post. The question is raised by Pat Lang, a Virginian.

Jerry Nadler is my congressman, and I couldn't be happier.Sean, do you know any jokes or anything? What makes you smile? Do you ever listen to music? Are you irritated all the time, or just when you write here?

Never ascribe to malice what can be sufficiently explained by stupidity. Mark TwainNever attribute to conspiracy that which can be explained by incompetence. Napolean Bonaparte

True enuf, Jimmy Mac; but there is some evidence that Cantor is neither stupid nor incompetent. Just very wrong. Have you an epigraph for that?

It is highly advantageous for a district to be represented by a senior congressman, who chairs important committees or holds a leadership position. It helps, not to put too fine a point on it, with getting pork shoveled into the district's trough. Voters are pretty good at recognizing the value of an incumbent. In the Senate, Tom Daschle and Robert Byrd held onto seats that would otherwise have been Republican long ago; Snowe and Collins' seats in Maine will go to Democrats when they retire.

What exactly is Cantor delivering to his constituents because of his seniority?

The district is 80% white. Incomes are modest. The population is mainly people whose ancestors have lived there for a long time. Typically, they live in small, well kept houses sited for a view of the countryside. The houses average around $130,000 in price. This is the heartland of the country of Jeffersons Virginia yeomen.

Odd article - very class-conscious: people should stay in their places - black with black, white with white, rich with rich, and poor with poor.

"What exactly is Cantor delivering ... " I don't know, specifically. Aren't all but the grossest pork projects usually disguised in the budget? I am going on the assumption that all politicians funnel benefits (legally, even when distastefully) toward their own districts and powerful politicians do it more effectively. It seems the obvious answer to "why don't his constituents dump him in favor of someone more like themselves?"Is the question whether he has higher aspirations? Of course he does. Do you know a lot of politicians who look in the mirror in the morning and say to themselves, "Well, I think I've risen to the level of my competence. Now I should just concentrate on doing my job well."

Peggy: take your pick ----For every problem there is a simple solution, and it is always wrong. H. L. Mencken.He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed. Abraham Lincoln in debate with Stephen DouglasYou've got to hate society enough to want it changed, and love it enough to pitch in and help save it. G. K. ChestertonThe great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie ... deliberate, contrived, and dishonest ... but the myth ... persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic ... Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. John F. KennedyThe modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. John Kenneth GalbraithAny man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error. Marcus Tullius CiceroAnd my personal favorite ---I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure. - Mark Twain

All worth contemplating and, of course, diagramming.

i've been thinking bad thoughs about the US voter but the JFK qoute by Jimmy Mac says it all. Thank you, JM

It says leading members of both parties, but both quotes are from leading Democrats, or has Schumer recently switched parties?

I know what made me smile, this: Jerry Nadler is my congressman, and I couldnt be happier.

What I know about VA 7th district is what I read in Pat Lang's post (by the way, like you he is former military (retired), a graduate of VMI, and from time to time refers to himself as a redneck); he lives in Virginia--a tad closer to DC. I was intrigued by Lang's implicit question: exactly how does Cantor represent long-settled people in Western Virginia (part of the Appalachians it appears), of modest means, some of them certainly retired. Like many New Yorkers they would likely suffer badly from another economic shock, if there is one. I guess that was what Lang was getting at. As far as I can tell, Cantor is not a member of the Tea Party, but closely allied and a man intent on becoming speaker of the house. If Boehner were more inclined to the Tea Party, would Cantor be more moderate? So maybe the question might be: what happens when one's ambitions outrun the needs of the district you represent?Here is the wikipedia description of the 7th district:

Gasoline prices skyrocketed in the Chicago area over the last 24 hours - close to, or over, $4/gallon. From what I understand, the market fundamentals - supply and demand - indicate that prices should be holding steady or even declining modestly. The reason given for the leap in prices? Market jitters over the possibility that a deal will not get done. It's July 15, and the two sides seem farther apart than when they started these daily negotiations.I heard someone opine recently that this is all political theater, and a deal will get done. About now would be a good time, istm.

David,You assume far too much. I actually am an amateur musician - so I do listen to music. And I am generally a very happy guy. The fact that I am sometimes annoyed by these posts doesn't mean squat about my general personality or philosophy of life. In fact, aside from irritation, I think my posts point at the humor of things - your problem is that I might be laughing at you.In this case, I am pointing out something that I see time and again from the dotcommonweal posters - their complete and utter inability to understand how other people might perceive something and the implicit assumption that they are confused, duped, or just stupid if they disagree with their point of view. Because I spent 24 years travelling the world in uniform, I have lived in small southern towns, large east coast cities, Western Europe, war-torn Bosnia, an ivy league college town, and more. Beside meeting people myself, I have dozens of friends who have lived everywhere from Malaysia to Russia who share their experiences with me. I have to say the most narrow-minded people (outside the Islamic world) I have met or heard of are east/west coast American progressives - particularly those in academia. I saw more intollerance, snobbery, and downright nastiness in two major east coast universities than I ever did in the rural South.MargaretAh someone else wrote the article. So you disagree with him then?

I think Pat Lang's implicit question was "If I ran against him would I have a chance?" And the answer is probably "No way."Maybe it's because I went to school back in the days when Soviet Communism was still taken seriously, but this budget fight looks pretty simple to me. People who have wealth want to keep it. They want low taxes and small government. People who do not have wealth want to tax the people who have it and spend it on social programs that benefit themselves.Why do Western Virginians of modest means stick with the former instead of going over to the latter. Is it (1) because they are philosophically convinced that the best way to get wealthy is not to tax people who have it, but to let the people who have it invest it and make jobs? Or is it because (2) a lot of white people consider themselves honorary Haves, whether or not they really have?Opinions differ. I estimate it's mostly (1) and a little of (2)

Felapton: "(1) because they are philosophically convinced that the best way to get wealthy is not to tax people who have it, but to let the people who have it invest it and make jobs? Or is it because (2) a lot of white people consider themselves honorary Haves, whether or not they really have?"Number 1 may be convincing to some, but making jobs has not been what happens certainly in the last decade. In this case people's convictions are not supported by the facts. Number 2 seems possible, even probable. Mary Jo Bane at a Fordham conference once discussed this phenomenon of people voting against their "class" interests. Her speculation was that in the U.S. (unlike many European countries) the system of upward mobility is sufficiently fluid that many people of few or moderate means vote for the candidates of the well-off because they think that's where they're headed, economically speaking. How about Number 3: many/most people don't pay close attention to what their elected representatives are up to?

So what are the implications of this economic crisis?Short term -- *Obama will cave? If so, what will he grant? *The Republican leadership will cave? If so what will they grant? *Neither will cave? *They will somehow compromise? If so, how?Short term worst case if neither caves -- * The bond market will collapse sending the world economy into the feared depression?* Congress will shortly thereafter come to its senses and extend the debt limit enough the pay our bills until after the next election?* Other? What?

Obama, Boehner, McConnell, Reid, and Pelosi will come to some agreement, which passes--mostly with Dems in the House, and a mixed vote in the Senate. But what do I know except that they all appear to be adults who know what will happen if they don't reach an agreement. They'll all lose their next election except for Pelosi.Coming to an agreement doesn't mean there won't be trouble with U.S. credit worthiness. Foreigners (govt. corp., and individuals) are being exposed to the nuttiness of our politics. It should frighten them; it should frighten us! Krugman this morning: "Getting to Crazy";

Thanks for the Krugman article, Ms. S. The question I ask is: why has The Republican Party produced so few capable leaders in the last few decades? Mitt Romney is the strongest of the declared would be candidates, and he's no prize. A survey of the others running is scary. Where, for instance, are the Tafts, the Rockefellers, the Jerry Fords , the Doles, the other Republicans of stature?What in the philosophy of the GOP has led to its current state?

I tried to answer this question in a column last October and began with homage to Bob O'Rourke the Moderate Republican precinct captain in our neighborhood and counterpart to my Aunt Ann O'Brien, Moderate Democratic precinct captain (when I was a child in Chicago). Conclusion: "The party of probity and gravitas has become the party of duplicity and triviality. Where are the Bob ORourkes of this world when we really need them?" Along the way in the column I took several stabs at trying to figure out what happened to the Moderate Republicans. Here:

I try to avoid the political blogs these days as the same old suspects keep firing away with no chance of real dialogue.Last night AC 360 opened with a montage of GOP leaders saying repeatedly "the American people don't want taxes raised."Cooper than cites six or seven polls showing the opposite is true (in spades.)But, as in blogging, political honesty doesn't matter -only ideology that worships at the Norquist altar where the first commandment is never compromise.BLECH

Bob N. --I saw some of that AC 360 spot too. The resistance of those GOP politicians to the results of those polls is frightening. It's not a matter of one or two of them being wrong about one or two polls -- it's a matter of ALL of them wrong about ALL of those major polls that is insane. Krugman is right. They're bonkers. What has happened to the GOP?

The NYT has an editorial supporting the Irish government. It ends:"With the pedophilia scandal under investigation worldwide, Vatican officials point to new, tougher rules. But the rules, which do not require dioceses to report allegations of crimes to the police, are considered only advisory guidelines to bishops. The Dublin government has enacted a new law making it a crime for anyone, church officials included, to fail to report child abuse to civil authorities. The Vatican has a valuable lesson to learn in Ireland."When was the last time the Vatican learned anything?

Oops --.sorry. I posted that on the wrong thread.

Ameica has a piece on Catholic Social Justice Leaders call on the President and Congress to protect the poor in debt reduction talks.Among the signees was America"s Editor, Fr. Christiansen; I would have liked to see Commonweal's editors names prominently included.Of course ur friends on the right wil lsay who are thesx people and what do they know about ecomics or politics or , really., MY IDEOLOGY?Tome Friedman's piece in the Sunday NYT shows how the boomers will kill the America they inherited.Another NYT news piece shows how intransigent they are: not caring iif they get reelcted, they are there to insist on ideology - a bunch of twinkies IMO with no insight into how to govern, and at the top of this group as the now emerged spokesperson -Mr. Cantor.

"a bunch of twinkies IMO with no insight into how to govern"...perhaps the people who elected them should be the first to have cutbacks on all the things govt. does for them. If that's how they voted, they should take responsibility for their choice.Yes, yes, I'm sure it's unconstitutional and immoral, but what the hell we're they thinking.

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment