Washington Babylon — December 11, 2008, 9:48 am

Eric Cantor: Friend of the little people

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.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Measure for Measure

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Israel

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“The campaign music stopped. Hundreds of people, their faces now warped by the dread of a third bomb, began running for cover.”
Photograph © Guy Martin/Panos.
Article
Part Neither, Part Both·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Eight months pregnant I told an old woman sitting beside me on the bus that the egg that hatched my baby came from my wife’s ovaries. I didn’t know how the old woman would take it; one can never know. She was delighted: That’s like a fairy tale!”
Mother with Children, by Gustav Klimt © akg-images
Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer

Percentage change since 1990 in serious golf-cart-related injuries:

+132

Vegetarians are more intelligent than normal people.

A leopard gained access to a private school in India.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today