I just can't help but wonder how he does it.
Appearing at the 2009 Value Voters Summit—the right-wing's version of Woodstock—Congressman Eric Cantor stood before his 'peeps' to offer up his blessings for the newly minted protest movement we now know as The Tea Party. Cantor praised the group of protesters by announcing that they were "fighting on the fighting lines in what we know is a battle for democracy."
This morning, appearing at the 2011 edition of the Value Voters Summit—this time as the House Majority Leader—Cantor had this to say about the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the politicians who have shown a willingness to support them:
This administration's failed policies have resulted in an assault on many of our nation's bedrock principles," he said. "If you read the newspapers today, I, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country. And believe it or not, some in this town, have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans. But you sent us here to fight for you and all Americans.
So, when a politician like, say, Eric Cantor, praises the Tea Party ranks for occupying wide swaths of the nation's capital to protest the policies of their fellow Americans, this, apparently, would not be a case of a politician condoning the pitting of Americans against Americans. However, every similar type of protest staged by a movement that the majority leader does not support becomes an unacceptable clash between countrymen.
How does Cantor say these things with a straight face? Where do I get whatever it is that Eric Cantor is smoking? And why did Cantor miss that day in high school when they were studying the great American tradition of protest, no matter what side of the political spectrum is doing the protesting?
Apparently, in Leader Cantor's America, only the right wing can be on the "front lines" fighting for democracy while anyone else who would dare to become so engaged is involved in an unhealthy exercise of pitting themselves against their fellow Americans.
Cantor's remarks, while amusing, befuddling or whatever word you might choose to describe his particular brand of mental weakness, are remarkable on so many levels.
Does Leader Cantor's analytical processes prohibit him from grasping the sheer idiocy revealed in these two comments just two years apart? If so, our House of Representatives is being led by a rather 'average' mind (I'm attempting to be generous)—something that should give every American reason for concern.
Possibly, Cantor realizes the complete ridiculousness of what he says, but just doesn't care. He may simply assume that his audience will never make the connections. He could well be right about that given that much of his audience simply lets the Fox News stuff drift in, swizzle about the brain cells for a moment or two, only to be released quickly into the ether to make room for the next piece of weirdness.
The good news for Eric Cantor is that his followers will likely never know of his willingness to reveal himself as a challenged human being. And if they do, they probably won't care.
The bad news is that this man is the second highest ranking official in the United States House of Representatives and on track to rise even higher. However, Cantor would have done well to pay more attention to his Congressional colleague, Michele Bachmann, and one-time V.P. candidate, Gov. Sarah Palin. While these women were able to get their base excited, their silly statements and history of saying false, confusing and confounding things ultimately made reaching the higher office they sought a complete impossibility. Cantor would appear to be on track to shoot himself in the foot in a similar way.
I'm not sure if the right wing realizes this any longer, but it is possible to choose leaders who reflect their point of view but who are actually smart. I'm no fan of Rep. Paul Ryan, but I acknowledge his intelligence. I rarely agreed with William F. Buckley, Jr. but the man had one seriously effective brain. It is possible to choose leadership that reflects the beliefs of the right-wing but would still be clever enough not too say something so incredibly stupid and capable of exposure as Cantor's remark this morning. All Cantor has done is grab himself a quick round of applause from the audience in attendance while offering up proof positive that he has become the poster boy for The Peter Principal, as clearly he has been promoted one step higher than he can handle.
Frankly, I suspect that Cantor doesn't realize that he should be incredibly embarrassed by this. Maybe some of his followers will, and react accordingly.