Saturday, September 26, 2009

Leadership From Dummies: Eric Cantor

I want to be a Republican. I believe in much of what the Republican party stands for. But they make it so very hard. Our party seems to be cursed with a leadership that consists of weak-kneed hacks, incompetent bumblers, and fools. I wouldn’t hire a single one of them to represent me in my personal affairs, yet I am stuck with these idiots representing my views in politics. This does not make me happy. The latest example of their endless stupidity? Heir-to-the-throne Eric Cantor.

Many of you have never heard of Eric Cantor, which is an indictment in and of itself. Cantor, the House Minority Whip, is a youngish, five-term Republican from central Virginia. He is the only Jewish Republican in the House and, by all appearances, he is being groomed for bigger and better things by the party machinery. Whether that means Speaker of the House, leader of the party or President is not clear. But what is clear, Cantor does not understand politics.

Cantor first appeared on my radar screen in August 2008, when Cantor’s name was raised as a possible running make for joke-candidate John McCain -- though apparently McCain never actually considered Cantor (which does go in Cantor’s favor).

Since that time, the party seems to have made a special effort to put Cantor forward as the part-time face of the party (except when they found other obscure party members who were willing to deliver poor speeches). For example, Cantor took the point in the Republican opposition to the Stimulus Bill. And he seems to have had some sort of role in the health care debate, though it’s not clear that the Republicans actually took a position in that debate.

But Cantor really hasn’t distinguished himself. Indeed, despite many public appearances it is unlikely the public could pick him out of a one-person lineup. And this has to do with his incredibly underwhelming performances. His delivery is flat and indifferent, his knowledge suspect, his points are bland and meandering, and his commentary is about as biting as a stuffed Snoopy doll.

Consider, for example, his stirring opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s plan to appoint a car czar. Cantor called her plan. . . wait for it. . . “bureaucratic.” Whoooo hoooo! Who’s ready to grab a pitchfork and follow Eric into the gates of hell?! Nobody huh? Maybe Eric should have said:
“The use of czars upsets the constitutional balance of powers. It allows the Executive to make law and it eliminates judicial review. This is illegal under the Constitution, it violates our agreement with the government, and it leads to the types of abuses the Constitution was meant to prevent. Our government is a government of laws, not of men. The use of czars flips this on its head and makes our government totalitarian in nature.”
Or, if he doesn't like quoting me, he could have said:
The rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.

As presidential assistants and advisors, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials and to virtually anyone but the president. They rarely testify before Congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege. In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability.
That’s Robert Byrd (D-WV) schooling young Eric in how to be a Republican.

When the health care debate began, Eric waited and waited and waited and then he promised that the House Republicans would release an alternative health care plan. They didn’t. Instead, he went on a listening tour. . . a listening tour. Despite having months (if not years) to prepare a Republican counter proposal, Eric went on a listening tour. Listening tours are public relations distractions intended to make people think that you aren’t a clueless moron with no ideas.

And what did this listening tour lead to? Nada. Eventually, the Republicans released a four page list of bullet points instead of a plan. Consequently, Cantor continues to get his butt handed to him at town hall meetings because the Republicans don’t have a health care plan alternative. Strangely, he seems content with this.

But none of these failures precipitated this article. This article came about because of an interview Cantor gave the other day to the Politico. Cantor was asked about Nancy “da Freak” Pelosi’s ludicrously insane and disingenuous comments that “vitriol” injected into the health reform debate could end in violence akin to the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in the 1970s. No doubt, he’ll shoot down this stinking pile of Pelosi, right? Let’s look at his response:
“I think she’s living in another world -- I really do.”
Ok, sort of good. Except, why are you weakening your statement by including the words “I think” and then backing up this far-from-bold assertion with the pathetic “I really do”? Insecurity in a politician is a horrible thing Eric. And if you’re afraid to speak your mind without tossing in caveats and qualifiers, then perhaps you should consider another line of work, like becoming a librarian.
“I’m not condoning any of the things that, you know, the media may catch in terms of messages on the signs and what have you.”
W. . . T. . . F?! So right after accusing Pelosi of kind of sort of maybe living in another world, you turn around and *%$&# admit that Pelosi is right about the level of “vitriol”? And not only that, you imply that it’s hidden, and you make the media the arbiter of truth? My advice to you, shut the heck up now Eric. What’s that? You have more to say?
“But I have not run into any violence.”
That’s great Eric, anecdotal evidence is for fools. Besides, you just admitted that it’s out there and the media is finding it, so what’s your point?
“I have not run into crowds running over people. We should want spirited debate, although civil, and I’ve not been anywhere over the last several months where I would even think such a situation where violence is in the offing exists.”
More anecdotal evidence Eric, and no one cares because you already admitted that it’s going on, just like the media said it was. Maybe you should have said, "that's a cheap political tactic used by desperate politician, a failed Speaker of the House, to demonize the American public and I find it disgusting. . . I think. . . kind of. . . and stuff."

Cantor was then asked if he had personally heard any racist remarks. No doubt, this is the moment he shines and redeems himself. This will be the moment his backbone stiffens and his political instincts kick in and he will say:
“This charge of racism disgusts me. These are decent, average, hard working Americans expressing their point of view. And the media and the Democrats are slandering them. The Democrats have nothing to offer except socialism and the people have seen through it. They don’t want what the Democrats are offering and they are making their voices heard. And the Democrats, in a panic are using false charges of race to demonize the American people as a smokescreen for their own failures. You see it in New York, where Patterson is claiming racism to cover up his failures, you see it with Charlie Rangel who is trying to hide his problems behind false charges of racism, and you see it in the desperate attempts of people like Jimmy Carter and Nancy Pelosi to change the terms of the debate. It’s despicable. Even the President has rejected that charge.”
Let’s see. . .
“I’ve certainly seen it on the television screens — but I have not personally run into it.”
F. . . and the horse you rode in on Eric. You just threw several hundred thousand Americans under the bus. But it gets worse, doesn't it Eric, because you kept flapping your lips:
“Certainly, if I did [run into it], I would be as turned off as you would be — it’s abhorrent and it has no role in this discussion. That’s why when Jimmy Carter stepped out and said this about the president’s race, my comment was, ‘That’s abhorrent, that’s living in another world, another time.’”
Yes, what Jimmy Carter said was abhorrent, but then I know that’s not what you meant, is it Eric? Indeed, it’s not. You just sold out your side, Eric. You just helped demonize millions of Americans, Eric. And you did it on the basis of crazy, Jimmy Carter’s opinion. I am too angry to be snarky at this.

Eric, resign.


CrispyRice said...

You certainly are riled up, Andrew!

You can count me in on the masses of Republicans who have only a vague idea of him. "I know I've his name, ummm.... who is he again??" So thanks for the info. He sounds like a great leader. >>eyeroll<<

*sigh* I'm so tired of the lack of leadership and the wishy-washy-ness of this party. >:/ Grrrr.

AndrewPrice said...

CrispyRice, you're not alone. I just don't understand why our leaders have no political instincts and no backbone.

Unknown said...

Excellent! Cantor is a mealy-mouth, who is going nowhere fast. I'll know we have a leader when he says he also abhors, violence,just like Pelosi. And then explain why her example was so apt. A drunken, possibly-drug addled, mentally-unstable Democratic office-holder murdered two other Democratic officeholders in a town populated largely by Democrats. It is very important that if we want to end violence, stop electing Democrats, and don't listen to anybody from San Francisco (present company excepted, of course).

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think you've drawn the right lesson from Pelosi's example! LOL!

I wish that the Republicans would learn anything even the basics of politics, argument and persuasion. It's like shooting fish in a barrel with these guys.

patti said...

oh andrew, i heart you. i have been a registered republican all my life. not any more. i just can't stand the thought that i, a harmless mouthy gal from texas, have bigger balls than all of them put together. and i mean that. i need some serious action on their part before i would ever align myself with them again. i need them to show some tough love. i need to see them LEAD. we the people are waiting, begging, for true leadership and when we see it we are gonna follow in droves. until then, cantor and the rest of them can suck, um, eggs.

AndrewPrice said...

patti, I want so much to see them improve, but, like you, I am finding it harder and harder to take. They need to learn to stand for something and they need to learn to fight, or what good are they?

StanH said...

I’m with you Andrew. Washington politicians are all headed in the same direction, one’s just moving a little faster than the other. The Republicans are like the dweeb core, feckless little weenies who run from their shadows. Do you remember Newt Gingrich as the opposition leader late’80s tearing into Speaker Jim Wright in his special orders speeches after hours on CSPAN, and the brilliant build up to ’94 “Contract with America,” sending Speaker Thomas Foley home, or to K-Street. That’s what I want to see ferocious conservative attack, with reasoned defense, (sending Pelosi back to Lawhawk and San Francisco, …ha) never accepting the premise of the other side. Unabashed defense of the Founding principles without equivocation. But no …we have Eric Cantor : (

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I agree. I want to see them learn to explain, defend and promote conservative principles, goals and policies, and to do so without falling to their knees and apologizing for being conservatives. If they can't do that, then they need to quit politics and make room for people who can do it.

Writer X said...

Andrew, you are definitely not alone. I'm so sick and tired of the namby-pambyness in the Republican Party that sometimes I can't see straight. Thank you for confirming what I'd already begun to believe about Eric Cantor. Whenever I see or hear him, I find myself saying, "Where's the beef?" He's been less than impressive.

I keep hoping that someone will emerge from the pack. And that person will have some backbone. But who? Other than running you for office, I'm not seeing anyone who knocks my socks off.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, LOL! Thanks, someday I may definitely need to look into running for something. Maybe I should work as a community disorganizer for a couple years, then I can run for the top job.

I feel the same way about the party, I keep waiting for someone to step up and say, "ok, it's time we fix this thing," but no one seems interested. All they want to do is cower and apologize for anyone else who takes a stand. It's sickening. Now is the time when leaders are made and all we seem to have are sheep.

When I first heard of Cantor, I hoped he was something new, but like you, every time I see him I just get that feeling of "this is it?" And now to see him just roll over and play into Pelosi's game on something as simple as this tells me that he's not able to represent our views.

Writer X said...

It's such a shame because the Republican Party is handed gold every day on a silver platter in terms of Democratic missteps and blunders. The differences between the parties have never been more clear. And, yet, there is not one Republican politician who sees this? I can't believe it's just because they're all a bunch of nice guys; I'm leaning on the side that most of them are just plain dumb.

Sorry, but Sarah Palin, like her or hate her, seems to be the only one with any real backbone at the moment. At least she doesn't seem to be afraid to jump into the fray.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I don't fully understand it either.

I know that for the most part, politicians are fairly stupid. Still, you would think that out of the hundreds we have to choose from, some of them would be up to the task.

And many of them are afraid to take a stand on anything for fear of being voted out -- so they go along to get along.

I also know that many of them are far too insular -- I discovered this to my dismay in DC. That's a serious problem. They have little grasp of our culture because of it.

And I suspect that they rely on the same jerks for advice who got them into this position -- only now those bozos are paid consultants.

I know they also rely too much on lobbyists to give them advice.

Apparently, this combination creates a lethal cocktail of ineptitude and cowardice.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - we certainly do need to find a charismatic Republican; and make no mistake, we do need a Republican. Splinter off a third party or libertarian and we squander the gift liberals are presenting with their hubris laden over-reaching.

Up to a point, a politican who uses restraint and civility can be kind of classy. But if you go that route, you better damn well be charismatic, and Cantor does not appear to exude that trait. This issue is particularly true for Republicans since the m.s.m. is certainly not going to give them any positive free publicity. It kind of makes me think of Anne Coulter. Anne goes out of her way to be provacative and controverial. Why? because it gets her noticed. The same is true of Tennessee's new football coach. He made some waves with controverial statements early on, but realized he had to start by getting himself and the program noticed.

As far as the weak-kneed statement about not condoning nasty Anti-Obama signs at rallies, I'm not so certain many, if not most of them are actually liberals in disguise trying to set up scenarios where they can say "see we told you the right is responsible for racist vitriol and lack of civility."

For who can we get to be a better leader, what do you guys know about Duncan Hunter, who, I believe, is a congressman from southern California? I liked him early on, but once he didn't do well in early primaries, his limited campaign funds dried up. It seems to me now is the perfect time for a conservative pol to step up and separate him or herself.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Now is absolutely the time for whoever wants to be the party leader to step up. There is a vaccum there to be filled and it will go to whoever is the first to seize it. But to seize it, they need to be able to convince conservatives that they really are a capable, genuine conservative with a plan.

Sadly, none of the contenders seem up to that task, and most seem strangely unwilling to try.

On third parties, I agree entirely that supporting third party candidates is a waste -- but right now, the Republicans need to win folks like me back, and they aren't doing it with the wishy-washy attitude and a policy stance that can be summed up as "not as bad as Obama." If they can't fix that, they will never be able to take advantage of the Obama gift.

In terms of charisma, I'm not as concerned about charisma so much as I just want someone that I think actually represents conservatism, and that can explain and defend it.

I liked Duncan Hunter's views/postitions. But he vanished so quickly from the primary that I never got a real chance to evaluate him as a leadership candidate.

On the signs, I don't know if they were liberal plants or just our whacko fringe, but in either event they weren't the slightest bit representative of the people who turned out. And that's what guys like Cantor should have said, not just concede the point.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Jed, Politeness and courtesy only work in politics when all sides agree to follow the same rules -- and the left certainly has not. I don't recommend being a jerk, but you can't limit yourself to playing by a set of rules that the other side doesn't recognize.

That said, I don't believe in using controversy to get noticed either. That works for all the wrong reasons, especially in politics. It makes people question your judgment and it makes you easy to caricature. Also, often, it's a cover for a lack of any other qualities.

True political leaders find the right chord to get people to listen. They sell a positive image of the future and then offer plans that make sense (to the voters) for how to achieve that vision.

CrisD said...

This disconnect by Canter et. al is the heart of what has the tea parties going.

Americans see that their representatives in Washington are not reflecting their position on tax expenditure and values. They see that representatives have political motivations to do with their careers. And, as described in your post, they do not want to offend at ANY cost.

The emperor has no clothes. The crash last fall opened a chasm...more ordinary Americans can see the yawning horrible abyss of the economic state of USA. Unfortunately, the brainwashing and payoffs to President Obama's constituency places conservatives in a weak position (to say the least.)

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I disagree slightly. I think that conservatives find themselves in a very strong position. The moderates had their chance in McCain and Bush and they failed. And after years of Congress getting more and more moderate, all we got was a Democratic majority. So I think they won't succeed with Republican voters for some time to come.

The problem is that our leadership just seems to be inept. They don't understand politics, they don't want to offend their "friends" on the left, and they don't seem to understand the mindset of the people.

CrisD said...

I hope that you are right. I hope that the leadership, itself, is lacking and not the general position of Washington having kicked the Fedzilla can down the road for too many years.
I have my doubts.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I suspect that the party is going to find that the people have decided to have their say. And they ignore the people at their own risk.

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