Thursday, September 29, 2005

Conservative Columbia Graduate Now Acting Majority Whip

Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-7) is a great choice for a number of reasons; he is smart, goes over well on TV, and has a Masters Degree in Real Estate Finance from Columbia Business School. Most importantly, he is a committed conservative who unites Republicans.

The interim majority whip is a relative newcomer having only been elected to congress in 2000. Cantor served on the House Financial Services Committee and on the House International Relations Committee during his first term, and became Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. In November 2002, he was appointed Chief Deputy Whip and was chosen by the Republican Conference to sit on the Ways and Means Committee. His rise to being the number 3 Republican in the House is almost unprecedented. He has managed to get support from almost all factions of the GOP and remains a favorite of both former Majority Leader (and before that Whip) DeLay and the "temporary" Majority Leader Roy Blunt. Cantor's has the ability to juggle different factions and his feuding patrons, DeLay and Blunt. Moreover, Cantor accomplished this while sitting on the controversial House Immigration Reform Caucus.

While Cantor may have been largely over looked by all but local and Jewish Media, - Cantor is one of the few Jewish Republicans in the House- I expect him to quickly become a spokesperson for the House GOP. Though interim Majority Leader Blunt is certainly capable, his abrasive style and Southern accent reminds many of DeLay. Likewise Speaker Hastert has a low "Q Rating." As the 2006 elections approach, the House GOP leadership will need an official voice to counter the daily barrage by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the liberal press. Congressman Dreier was supposed to be this spokesman, but his nomination was killed by a conservative revolt. As a young urbane Virginia Republican with only a mildly discernible regional accent and an Ivy League degree, Cantor is the logical choice.

Revolt in the House Republican Conference

This morning, Representative Tom DeLay was indicted in an alleged conspiracy to funnel soft money into Texas state legislature races. While the charge may be without merit and politically motivated, the initial damage was done.
Almost immediately, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert announced that David Dreier, a
socially moderate
amnesty supporting California Congressman, would be DeLay'’s temporary successor. Since Delay and others knew of the pending indictment, it is clear that the House leadership and White House anointed the smooth-talking Drier.

The House Republican Conference was supposed to accept the nomination. However, members voiced their dissent at the conference meeting. In the end, the Majority Whip, Roy Blunt, who had been feuding with DeLay, was chosen by the conference. This is clearly a rebuke to the moderates, the arrogance shown by Hastert, and to the the White House. Conservative House Republicans had been increasingly disgruntled with theunprecedentedt spending of President Bush even before Hurricane Katrina. Then the President seemed to channel Robert Kennedy in his extravagant promises to create a New Orleans free of corruption, poverty, and the “legacy of discrimination.” Moreover, President Bush's amnesty program, which is supported by Speaker Hastert and House Rules Committee Chairman Dreier, is unpopular with the American people and many Republicans in Congress.

Many Congressmen, led by Mike Pence at the Republican Study Committee, called for spending cuts in current programs including the pork-ridden Transportation bill, and a delay of the ballooning Medicaid prescription Drug Entitlement. For his heresy Pence was denounced by Speaker Hastert and the Chairmen of the Transportation and Ways and Means committees (respectively Don Young and Bill Thomas). However, the harshest criticism came from Majority Leader DeLay, pretending to be the Whip. However, then Majority Whip Blunt, met with Pense and other RSC members to discuss implementing "Operation Offset.Â" While many saw this as simply part of the tit-for-tat feud between Delay and Blunt, the meeting may have prompted conservatives to support Blunt.

This is not how the media will portray the matter. They will harp on Republican divisions and attempt to convince the president to continue his recent "moderation"”. Moreover, the media will soon pick up on another story. It seems that David Dreier was outed last year. While the actual source, an investigator for Flynt's Hustler Magazine, is marginal, two prominent liberal blogs, Raw Story and BlogActive mainstreamed it. I expect the story not to be a revolt by fiscal conservatives and immigration reformers but as Republicans refuse to elevate homosexual to the position of House Majority Leader.”

Representative Eric Cantor moves from Chief Deputy Whip to acting Whip. While I am quite pleased to see a Jewish Conservative and Columbia Graduate become Whip, I wait with baited breath to see the effect on immigration. Congressman Cantor is a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus.

Hopefully, the Beltway GOP will remember its base and follow Pense’s advice on Operation Offset and Cantor’s on immigration.

Update- Eamon Javers of Business Week seems to think that the coup was lead by Congressman Pence and the RSC, whose members met before the full House Republican Conference.

Meanwhile, Tennesse Congressman Zach Wamp, has announced his intention to run for Majority Whip next January. According to the Washington Post story, Congressmen Pence and Boehner are looking at running for Majority Leader if Blunt stumbles.

Personally, I await a more credible account from the Washington Times.