Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Now we know who should have played the title role in "The Eric Cantor Story"


Maybe if Cockroach Eric wants to make headway with his "rebranding" program, he should try to sell it in song! "Forget your troubles, come on, get happy!" At least now we know who, though sadly no longer available, should have played the title role in The Eric Cantor Story. It's probably just a matter of time before our Eric starts dressing like Judy. (This would be a good look for him, don't you think?)

"In recent weeks, Republican leaders such as Cantor have resembled nothing so much as laundry detergent salesmen, figuring if they can simply rebrand their product (High Efficiency 2x Ultra Stainlifter Clean Breeze Concentrated Fresh!) Americans will buy what they're selling. Omitted from consideration is the possibility that consumers don’t like what's in the bottle."
-- Dana Milbank, in his WaPo column today,
"Eric Cantor’s empty happy talk"

by Ken

Earlier today Howie wrote about what he described as the "fatuous repackaging job" attempted yesterday by House Majority Leader "Cockroach Eric" Cantor in what the Washington Post's Dana Milbank called a "heavily promoted 'major' speech" at the American Enterprise Institute. Here's Dana's description of the event:
He began with an uplifting anecdote about the Wright brothers and quoted the inspirational words of Emma Lazarus. He spoke from a lectern decorated with a foam board carrying the slogan "Making life work for more people" and brought with him some everyday folks to illustrate his upbeat philosophy, including an African American father who found a better education for his children and a girl doing well in her battle with cancer.

"The House majority will pursue an agenda based on a shared vision of creating the conditions for health, happiness and prosperity for more Americans," Cantor proclaimed. He also read a Thomas Jefferson quotation on "ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man."

The conservative think tank's president, Arthur Brooks, was in on the act. He introduced Cantor as a man who "cares about freedom and opportunity because he knows they lead to a happier, more prosperous life."
One thing you have to give Dana Milbank credit for is service in the trenches -- the trenches of Capitol Hill, that is. Which, for example, made him exactly the right person last month to chronicle the return to Congress, nearly two decades later, of Texas's creepy-crazy Steve Stockman ("What's frightening, says Dana Milbank, is that the wacky Steve Stockman of the '90s no longer sounds like an outlier' ").

Now, after witnessing the Cockroach's performance at AEI, Dana says:
[T]he sunny routine was a difficult one for Cantor, who has made a career in Washington of being testy and acidic. His delivery was forced and, as he read his text, he seemed to be reminding himself to grin. As a result, he scowled for much of the speech and sounded as though he were spitting out his words. Smiles formed at inopportune times, such as when he described a boy’s failure in public school.
Part of the problem here may be that the Cockroach has devoted himself so singlemindedly to being utterly useless that he may be just a tad bone-idle, possible too lazy to have bothered reading his crapfest of a speech before crapping it into those hardly-innocent ears at AEI.

In addition, while I can see the appropriateness of the description "testy and acidic" for the our Eric in this context, it doesn't really give a fair picture of the Cockroach as I've observed him over the years, admittedly at a far greater distance than Dana has. What I've seen might be better described as crude and bullying -- in the manner of a baby python who has dreams of glory of growing up to be a pit viper.

Naturally, when it came to substance, there was, well, nothing. As Howie pointed out in his post, the House Republican minions of Satan were hard at work doing the bidding of the crazed voices thundering in their heads. And Cockroach Eric had even less to offer in his new persona as the Happy Warmonger than he did in his more comfortable, now supposedly thrown-over role as champion of ignorance and hate.
When it came to what his party would do to make people so buoyant and uplifted, Cantor had little beyond the policies he and his colleagues have long offered. The first questioner asked whether anything in Cantor's lengthy speech would "be incorporated in legislation." Cantor demurred. "I will say we do intend to follow up with some policy proposals and legislation working with our committees to move forward on many, many of these issues," he said.

The next questioner asked about the bipartisan Senate proposal, unveiled last week, that would break the deadlock on immigration reform. "I have not looked at the details of what the Senate has put out," he answered.
Howie noted that new House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte was already busy making sure that not a single voice that's either sane or unbigoted would be heard testifying on immigration before his committee.)

In recent weeks, Republican leaders such as Cantor have resembled nothing so much as laundry detergent salesmen, figuring if they can simply rebrand their product (High Efficiency 2x Ultra Stainlifter Clean Breeze Concentrated Fresh!) Americans will buy what they're selling. Omitted from consideration is the possibility that consumers don’t like what's in the bottle. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Sunday that voters "don't understand the conservative message." Paul Ryan, the former vice presidential candidate, said Republicans need only "do a better job of applying our principles."

Cantor picked up this theme Tuesday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," saying Republicans haven't "completed the sentence, which is, we're trying to do this to help people."

Problem is, the optimistic talk collides with grim realities. Cantor spoke Tuesday about Lady Liberty lifting her "lamp beside the golden door," but he was noncommittal on the comprehensive immigration reforms drafted by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). He spoke about how "many of today's cures and lifesaving treatments are a result of an initial federal investment" without mentioning that the House Republicans' budgets would decimate medical research.
Look around the wobbly tent the Republicans have put up to house their party. Cringing there you've got:

* panderable bigots and other hate-mongering crackpots,

* people who have been gulled into associating with the above,

* economic predators who see a chance to get rich (or richer) by keeping the above occupied with shiny objecs, and

* people who hope to cash in as lackeys of the above.

(Well, the predators aren't actually in the tent. They have predatory enterprises to run, fancy places to jet off to, fancy-goods shopping to do, and rapidly rising piles of money to count, since they don't trust the people they pay to count their money. However, the lackeys whom they pay to stage-manage the wobbly tents have them, or at least personal lackeys with access to them, on speed dial.)

The problem at the moment for GOP rebranders is that not only do they have no "message" (whatever Virginia's Governor Bob may think) for people outside these groups, but even people within some of them -- notably the pandered-to and the gulled -- are getting glimpses of reality. And unfortunately it will do them no good to whine and wail that Karl Rove assured him that reality would never get in the way of their dystopian visions.

What are they going to do, beat a path to Uncle Karl's doorstep and demand their money back? 'Cause let me tell 'em, they won't get it. Uncle Karl has a strict "no refunds" policy. Not to mention a "you broke it, you bought it" one.

After a while even heavily hornswoggled people may begin to sense that there's a problem with entrusting "job creation" to people who viscerally dislike folks who work for a living, or their health care to people who, as Alan Grayson has long since pointed out, just want them to die, or gun policy to people who are in the pocket of the arms merchants. And so on and so on.

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