Eric Cantor, Greater Richmond's Golden Boy of politics, is flying very close to the sun these days as he plays a dangerous game of chicken in budget negotiations that could have disastrous economic consequences.
Cantor is trying to run to the head of the Tea Party parade and scuttle any negotated budget deal between his own Republicans and Barack Obama. Not only did he storm out of a meeting with the president, he's seriously annoying the leadership of his own party, including Speaker of the Hosue John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, both of whom have tried to come up with a budget compromise before the Aug. 3 deadline for raising the fedeal debt limit.
Cantor is stubbornly insisting on much broader government spending cuts before the Republican House of Representatives would vote for a budget bill. His goal seems to be to position himself tightly with the Tea Party members who shunned him in last November's elections as a Main Street business toady.
Problem is that Boy Wonder is displaying some disturbing character flaws, such as his condescending tendency to curl his upper lip in the Cantor Snarl while spitting out statements such as "Obama's thinking is unfathomable to me," according to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.
Cantor's arrogance is pissing off people like Boehner who ranks one step ahead of Cantor in the Republican Congressional hierarchy. Even some leading GOPers wonder how Cantor managed to project himself into such a position while acting like a spoiled child. "He doesn't deserve a place at the table," one top Republican said. McConnell says Cantor's tactis are stupid because he's making the Republicans take ownership of Obama's handling of the economy.
That, by the way, is nothing to screw around with at the moment. Job growth in May and June was next to nothing. Rating agencies such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's stand ready to downgrade U.S. credit if the debt ceiling isn't raised, as it has been a number of times over the past several decades. Raising it has been linked to a budget deal. There's a very real chance of a U.S. default on its debts. A new recession would follow.
Instead of statesmanship, we're now getting snotty snarls from Cantor, who was raised in such a sheltered and privileged environment as Richmond's Collegiate School that oozes entitlement and provincial power. Cantor never had to be humble here at home. He always got glowing, uncritical coverage from the Richmond Times Dispatch. His wife is on the board of Media General which owns the paper.
Cantor's quote in his Collegiate yearbook was "I want what I want when I want it." That is the epitath of a spoiled rich kid. Too bad the stakes are so high and his vision is so narrow. We will be the ones paying the price.