“Young Gun” Cantor’s Overweening Ambition

Bereft of ties and jackets, the three, trim congressmen, coyly glancing this way and that, stride purposefully toward the camera. “These are, The Young Guns!,” says the announcer in an authoritative voice.

It might have been a Saturday Night Live parody of a trailer for “The Magnificent Seven,” the classic Western movie. Instead, it is, in all seriousness, a Web-streamed ad for a new book by three very ambitious Republican congressmen, Kevin McCarthy of California, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Eric Cantor, the House minority whip and wunderkind from Henrico County.

Released this week, “The Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders,” published by a division of Simon & Schuster, pushes the three reform-minded hotshots as the new generation of America’s conservative movement. Ryan, for instance, touts his own “roadmap” for America’s future while McCarthy tackles strategy. Cantor is the “leader” who admits that Republicans fell short on principles in the past and can do much better.

I haven’t read the book yet, although I tried to find it at my local Barnes & Noble today. According to reviewers, the trio has already raised eyebrows among the GOP elders for being so shamelessly self-promotional.

In their book, apparently, they rarely mention such Republican powers as House Minority Leader John Boehner, House Republican Conference chairman Mike Pence, RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

There also seems to be something ironic, if not downright amusing, about Cantor’s positioning himself as some kind of dynamic populist. Given the success of the Tea Party in ousting Republican mainstays in primaries this week, it might indeed be important to portray oneself as a man of the people. But Cantor’s anything but. As the representative of Virginia’s 7th District, he is about as radical as a bowl of Virginia spoonbread.

His chief aims have been to boost the interests of the monied classes in Richmond, mostly white Henrico County, where he was a real estate lawyer, and other places. He’s an accomplished fund-raiser and talks the usual GOP game about cutting budgets — until it hits home. He’s been a strong backer of federal spending for higher-speed rail so Richmond’s pooh-bahs can get to Washington for meetings without the hassle of Interstate 95.

And he has backed spending for a jet engine for the new F-35 fighter that the Pentagon doesn’t want. This is because Rolls-Royce, which would help make the engines, has its regional headquarters and is building a big manufacturing plant in Virginia.

In other words, “Young Gun” Cantor is very much a Main Street Republican.

The other odd thing is why he considers himself “young.” Cantor is 47 and McCarthy is 44. Ryan is just about to turn 40, making him the baby of the group, relatively speaking.

Peter Galuszka

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3 responses to ““Young Gun” Cantor’s Overweening Ambition”

  1. Cantor is a nerd struggling with his identity. Lucky for him, his wife is a flaming liberal.

    some day, he'll come to his senses.

  2. without naming names… the most odious of political lifeforms are Republican Weasels.

    We have more than our share of them now days.

    I'm still trying to decide if Mr. Cantor qualifies.

  3. Those were the days, my friend
    We thought they'd never end
    We'd sing and dance forever and a day
    We'd live the life we choose
    We'd fight and never lose
    For we were young and sure to have our way

    La la la la la la
    La la la la la la

    Then the busy years went rushing by us
    We lost our starry notions on the way
    If by chance I'd see you in the tavern
    We'd smile at one another and we'd say

    Those were the days, my friend
    We thought they'd never end

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