SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
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
Estimated cost of the environmental damage caused each year by the world’s 3,000 largest companies:
Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage.
Beekeepers began extracting 1 million honeybees living beneath the siding of a house in New York State.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“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.”