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Tilting at Windmills

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June 11, 2010

ERIC CANTOR, STILL BANGING THAT REBRANDING DRUM.... After House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) previous efforts at Republican "rebranding" failed miserably, I'd hoped he'd find a better way to spend his time.

Alas, he's still pursuing this.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor will kick off a personal drive Friday to rebrand the GOP as "a party that gets it" and would focus on spending -- not ideology -- if Republicans win a House majority in November.

"People are receptive to a message of responsible leadership," he said in an interview in his Capitol suite. "They're just pissed, and they're not going to take it anymore."

Cantor, who has occasionally gotten under President Barack Obama's skin during leadership meetings at the White House, will take a few digs at him when unveiling his refreshed GOP message for the Detroit Economic Club, a prestigious forum visited by every sitting president since Richard Nixon.

Cantor really seems to think that rebranding will solve his party's problems. If he can just convince people to see Republicans as the "spending cuts" party, the GOP will thrive.

I realize the Minority Whip struggles to understand public policy and substantive details, but there are a few nagging issues he should at least try to consider.

First, Cantor and the GOP have no credibility on cutting spending. When Republicans were in the majority, they increased spending considerably. By their own admission, it was "standard practice not to pay for things" when the GOP was in charge. We know exactly what to expect from Republican governance because we just saw its results -- recession, huge deficits, mismanagement, and a system gamed to help no one but the very wealthy. For a rebranding effort to work, it should have at least some foundation in reality.

Second, Cantor and the GOP won't tell anyone what spending they intend to cut. So far, they've offered a few gimmicks that tinker around the edges, but there's no serious effort to present a substantive plan. Cut spending where? By how much? Affecting whom? GOP officials and candidates never quite get around to filling in these gaps, and seem to hope desperately that voters just don't ask. Indeed, when President Obama reached out to congressional Republicans last summer, urging them to put together a list of spending cuts they'd like to see, the GOP caucus came up with $23 billion in proposed cuts over five years -- far less than the White House plan to reduce spending over the same period. So why should anyone consider Republicans the "spending cuts" party?

Third, Cantor and the GOP whine incessantly about government spending not helping the economy, but they clearly don't mean it. More than half the House Republican caucus -- including Cantor himself -- are publicly on record stating that government spending creates jobs and improves the economy ... just so long as it's spent in their congressional districts. Cantor's credibility on the subject, then, is a rather transparent joke.

And fourth, Cantor and the GOP may not like it, but government spending prevented a depression that was nearly created by failed Republican economic policies. Instead of heading to Detroit to bash the White House, he should be headed to Hallmark to look for an "I'm Sorry" card to the American people.

I continue to almost feel bad for Cantor. He was elected to Congress before he was able to learn anything about public policy, and was put in the GOP leadership before he could speak intelligently about any issue.

Eric Cantor as a congressional leader remains a classic example of a post turtle -- you know he didn't get up there by himself; he obviously doesn't belong up there; he can't get anything done while he's there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down.

Steve Benen 12:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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I would love to know exactly what Cantor intends to cut. Wouldn't you?

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 11, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

"They're just pissed, and they're not going to take it anymore."

I can not believe the GOP's Minority Whip would use such callous and unsavory language. As a professional politician and a congressional representative of deeply religious constituents I find it appalling that he would resort to such foul utterances!

I mean, what was he thinking?

Posted by: stevio on June 11, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

One would think that pointing out to Democratic voters that the possibility of guys like Cantor getting back into power is the worst possible outcome for all of the issues most Democratic voters are concerned about, which would mean that getting out to vote in November would be crucial and should be seen as a patriotic duty by Democrats.

Sadly, I have to tell you that when I call around the country for the party, this kind of argument doesn't "seal the deal." The Republican Big Lie has dispirited Democrats (coupled with the failure of the party to make its own case to its own members), and I am seeing a situation very similar to 1994. In 1994, the Republicans did not increase the number of their voters over 1992. What happened was the number of Democratic voters fell.

Additionally, it is very hard to get enthusiasm up when you have people looking at the "Democratic" Senators from Big Oil like Landrieu and Big Coal like Rockefeller making it impossible to accomplish something as important as passing the American Power Act.

But come the day after the elections in November, when the Democrats see themselves as the minority party in Congress and the whackadoodles back in power, morons like the "progressive" congressional Democrats will need only look in the mirror to find the source of their defeat.

It's getting very frustrating to try and mobilize the base when you're doing it for shitheads like the Senate Democrats.

Posted by: TCinLA on June 11, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Imbeciles like Cantor have a powerful soapbox in Washington because the corruption is so thorough the shit that Cantor -- and people like Cantor -- spew is just more fertilizer for the corruption machine.

Cantor actually lubricates the corporatist propaganda and agenda by sewing stoopid into the fabric of the national narrative. In that respect, for the corporations, Eric Cantor earns his pay as much as just about everyone in Washington.

Posted by: neill on June 11, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

shouldn't the focus here be on the fact that he used the word "pissed" in his office. how degrading to the House... lol.

Posted by: andyvillager on June 11, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

American voters are simple people and they want simple explanations of complex problems. It's why they vote Republican.

Posted by: DAY on June 11, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

TCinLA tell it to Rahmbo. He thinks we are going to passively go to the polls and vote for the blue dog corporatists like good little sheep.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 11, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

@TCinLA -- Yeah, I hear you. But please keep on keeping on for the majority of Senate Dems who are *not* shitheads.

I do not want to see Paul Ryan (R-Ayn Rand) get anywhere near an opportunity to put forth his Roadmap for America -- a plan designed specifically to bring The New Deal to an end. Ryan's roadmap leads in one direction only -- over an economic and social cliff. (Of course, any of Ryan's frightening ideas that might actually survive as a bill would almost certainly be vetoed, but there's no way I want to see someone who thinks like Ryan chairing the House Budget Cmte.)

Seriously, if anyone needs motivation for keeping Democrats in power, google Paul Ryan/Roadmap. And while you're at it, contemplate Boehner-Speaker of the House (and third in the succession line to assume the presidency); Mitch McConnell-Senate Majority Leader; Eric Cantor-House Majority Leader; etc.

Remember Terry Schaivo? Remember a hearing literally shut down in its midst and the room's lights and sound turned off because the Republican chairman, Sensenbrenner, did not want to listen to the witnesses' testimony? Remember Republicans trying to have Democrats arrested for attempting to attend policy meetings?

Those memories alone are enough motivation for this Democrat to donate to Democratic candidates and to not sit on my hands come mid-term election time.

Posted by: June on June 11, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I think that Cantor is taking the long view. The Republican party does need to rebrand - though there is probably no way it happens before 2012. With their religious conservative and teabag wings, they are fundamentally unprepared to lead the country. Also between the fact that they have now completely lost the Hispanic vote and the vote of the under 18-34's - they are demographically undesirable too. If they are to ever be relevant again, they need to reposition - the way David Cameron repositioned the Tories. At that point, Cantor is young, he's Jewish, he may be well positioned.

Posted by: jomo on June 11, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Cantor's PR campaigns would be more effective if there was any sign that the Republican party has actually changed, if there was some sign of responsible behavior. But all the signs point in the opposite direction: they've changed, but for the worse (if you can imagine that).

Posted by: MattF on June 11, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

"So why should anyone consider Republicans the "spending cuts" party?"

Cause Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, etc. say so. There's a reason people watch Fox - to get their marching orders!

The problem the Repugs have is that they can't change their stripes by changing their language. They are who they are - and proud of it.

They are also dying out with every passing year.

Posted by: Mark-NC on June 11, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

"They're just pissed, and they're not going to take it anymore."

I can not believe the GOP's Minority Whip would use such callous and unsavory language. As a professional politician and a congressional representative of deeply religious constituents I find it appalling that he would resort to such foul utterances!

I mean, what was he thinking?

At least he didn't say "Ass." That would have been unforgivable.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on June 11, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, my phormatting went phunky on me.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on June 11, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

So, Cap'n Chucky - you are saying that the Ass was pissed?

I'm just askin'.

Posted by: Mark-NC on June 11, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

I agree almost entirely with jomo. Except that I believe the Republican party is headed for regional isolation, or national extinction. Like the Federalists before them, a slow fade to black, then gone. Their base is disproportionately white, male, older, southern and rural, and shrinking. After a little surge in Congress this midterm, they look poised for an embarrassing defeat in the following elections. Re-branding is, if anything, bad paint on rotted wood. Their house will fall.

Posted by: Lloyd on June 11, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor will kick off a personal drive Friday to rebrand the GOP as "a party that gets it"

So he's admitting that the GOP of today doesn't "get it?"

Posted by: lw on June 11, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

In the UK and Canada "pissed" means drunk,so then it would make perfect sense.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on June 11, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Lloyd. Certainly a failure to rebrand could lead to an extinction of the party - but nature abhors a vacuum. We can't have a one party system. Reagan's strongest base of support was the under 30's. A socially liberal, fiscally conservative party could probably succeed against that cohort.

Posted by: jomo on June 11, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Pissed?! Pissed my ass, doesn't this jerk know anything about the dignity of the House?

Posted by: eserwe on June 11, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." * Stephen Colbert

No wonder Cantor's ignoring reality.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on June 11, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK
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