Crocodile tears for Eric Cantor’s demise

The House majority leader lost to a Tea Party candidate in his state primary election on Tuesday.


The House majority leader lost to a Tea Party candidate in his state primary election on Tuesday.

Poor Eric Cantor. He’s suffered an agonizing political death — and no one seems to know what caused it. David Brat, the man who upended the House majority leader in Tuesday’s Republican primary, proffered this explanation: “God acted through people on my behalf.” Or perhaps it was simply Brat’s native humility that carried the day.

Some say Cantor rode the Tea Party and that in the end, it turned and swallowed him up. Others think his cautious openness to immigration reform did him in. Not so, say those who favor immigration reform. They brandish a Tuesday survey by Public Policy Polling, a liberal outfit, of Cantor’s Virginia district.


According to a Politico article on that poll, voters there thought more highly of that cause than they did of the congressman: 70 percent of registered Republicans support the basic tenets of immigration reform — but only 43 approved of Cantor’s job performance, while 49 percent disapproved.

Here’s the most interesting contrast: Even as Cantor lost in Virginia, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who was openly disdainful of the Tea Party and far more pro-immigration-reform than Cantor, cruised to victory in South Carolina. So it may well be that Cantor was the victim of his own political incompetence.

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Oh, and his cocksure, full-of-himself, hard-to-like personality.

Suffice to say that many of the tears being shed for him in Washington are of the crocodile variety. Democrats viewed him as a posturing ideologue, while Speaker John Boehner reportedly viewed him as more of an ambitious rival than an ally. But what was sad news for Cantor is good news indeed for Randolph-Macon College. Both Brat and the Democratic nominee, Jack Trammell, teach there. Hmm. I wonder what academic institution will have first claim on the fall debates?

Scot Lehigh can be reached at lehigh@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.
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