Democrats say Cantor will not eat their pleas

Michael Shear, Caucus Blog, NY Times:

Just about everything having to do with the debt ceiling debate in Washington remains up in the air as negotiators continue in vain to seek some agreement — with the deadline fast approaching.

But Democrats appear to have settled on one thing: The person to blame is Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Mr. Cantor, the House majority leader, has emerged as the new target for Democratic scorn this week, even as he has upstaged House Speaker John A. Boehner as the primary voice of conservative Republican opposition to tax increases.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, lashed out at Mr. Cantor on the Senate floor Thursday morning, calling him “childish” and saying he didn’t deserve to be part of the debt ceiling negotiations.


That leaves Mr. Cantor, who has positioned himself in recent weeks as the most hard-lined of the Republican leadership when it comes to opposing a tax increase.

Mr. Cantor, an ambitious young member of Congress who has risen quickly, has all of the qualities to become the target of Democratic ridicule: He is absolute in his rhetoric, uncompromising in his policies and appears willing to take the heat if necessary.

“Currently, there is not a single debt limit proposal that can pass the House of Representatives,” Mr. Cantor declared on Wednesday. The evening’s meeting at the White House ended with a verbal confrontation between the president and Mr. Cantor, according to people familiar with the meeting.

For Mr. Cantor, being cast as the Republican boogeyman by national Democrats is a double-edged sword.

In some ways, his advisers acknowledge that he can wear the criticism like a badge of honor that enhances his credibility among conservative voters in his district and with conservative colleagues in the House.

“When you are getting attacked and lambasted on the national level by the Democrats, it has a certain effect with base voters and online people,” said a Republican official on Capitol Hill. “They tend to like that.”

Cantor is speaking for his caucus, and that tends to upset Democrats who had the majority for Obama's first two years as President. He is having trouble dealing with the reality of the rejection he was handed at the polls in 2010. Obama seems to be struggling with his inability to persuade these guys to go back on their campaign promises. He is not handling rejection well. Cantor has already told him what it will take to get a deal and Obama would rather burn down his house than make the deal at this point.

It is time for him to take what he can get. All of Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer's insults are not going to change his mind or the minds of Cantor's caucus.


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