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One of the more amusing story lines coming out of the elections is that the Republican Party, which previously had been committed to core beliefs like small government and protecting ordinary taxpayers, somehow lost its way in recent years and became beholden to special interest groups and big donors. This is mythology. The G.O.P. took control of congress in 1994 with the help of lavish funding from the business community and then sought to implement programs–deregulation, reducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and so forth–desired by its financial sponsors.
Yet there was the Washington Post today with a fawning profile of Congressman Eric Cantor, the incoming Republican House whip and “conservative bulwark”:
He’s the only Jewish Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives and his party has lost so many seats to the Democrats that he talks of life in the political “wilderness.” In those minority-party woods, Cantor searches for a way out, for a way to turn irrelevancy into relevancy. He talks about creating a new kind of Republican conservative, one less concerned with ideology and more focused on practical solutions, more tech-savvy and less reflexively combative with Democrats, intolerant of ethical lapses and tolerant of new ideas. And especially one who communicates better to the middle class.
Eric Cantor as change agent, reformer and champion of Jack and Jill Lunchbucket?
During the past decade, Cantor has raised about $12.6 million, of which roughly 93 percent came from business groups. The primary industries contributing to his campaigns are real estate, securities and investment, lawyers and health professionals. With his seat on the House Ways and Means Committee, Cantor had direct jurisdiction over issues like taxes and health care. Those donors didn’t dish out all that money because Cantor was regularly voting against their interests.
Cantor also routinely dipped into his political funds to subsidize his lifestyle. For example, in the fall of 2005, he charged his political funds more than $42,000 to sponsor a fundraiser for top donors at the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows. His financial sponsors also got a tour of the Warner Bros.
Cantor has also enjoyed close relationships with a variety of lobbyists, including Jack Abramoff. At a January 2003 fundraiser held at Stacks, Abramoff’s restaurant, Abramoff introduced the Eric Cantor sandwich, “a tuna-based stacker.” At Cantor’s request, Abramoff subsequently changed the contents of his eponymous sandwich to roast beef on challah, “a deli special that exudes Jewish power,” reported The Hill. Guests at the fundraiser each contributed $500 to Cantor. This is the man who will return the G.O.P. to its roots?
On second thought, perhaps he is.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”