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Eric Cantor – Call Him Ishmael May 7, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in National Politics.
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Congress House GOPLast Saturday, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R – VA) launched the National Council for a New America at a pizza parlor in Arlington.  Accompanied by several other important Republican voices such as Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, Cantor resisted the idea that the new group was attempting to “rebrand” the GOP, but was instead formed to start a ‘conversation’ with voters around the country.

Those Republicans present at the unveiling seemed to know what everyone else in this country – except the base conservative Republicans – already know.  The GOP needs fresh ideas.  It needs to find ways to connect with ordinary Americans and find ways to look forward instead of back at the same old retreaded ideas. 

“It’s time for the Republican Party to give up its ‘nostalgia’ for the heyday of the Reagan era and look forward,” Jeb Bush told the gathering.  “Our ideas need to be forward looking and relevant. I felt like there was a lot of nostalgia and the good old days in the [Republican] messaging. I mean, it’s great, but it doesn’t draw people toward your cause.”

On the Sunday talk shows, Cantor repeated his idea of the conversation that the GOP needs to have with America.  “What we’re trying to do here today is kick off a series of town-hall forums so that we can get back to listening to the people,” Cantor told CNN.  The “listening tour” is a relatively new construct (that I personally think is really stupid) – but it is sometimes the only way our cloistered politicians can connect with actual constituents.  And, if the GOP is serious about a “conversation”, then listening IS an integral part. 

It sounded like Cantor might be on to something.  That is – until the Great White Whale got wind of it.  Rush Limbaugh, Conservative radio talk show host and de facto GOP leader said,  ” We do not need a listening tour. We need a teaching tour. That is what the Republican Party, or, slash, the conservative movement needs to focus on. Listening tour ain’t it.”  

Cantor hurriedly backtracked.  He told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Scarborough yesterday, “”You know, Joe, really, this — this is not a listening tour … What the National Council for a New America is, is an opportunity for us to go out across this country to talk about our conservative principles and to appeal to as many elements in our society as we can, and to really talk to them at a higher level.”

So much for a conversation.  Cantor further went on to explain that ” The American people are very frustrated that they really see a government in Washington that doesn’t hear them, that doesn’t respond to their needs, and frankly are upset at a government that doesn’t work.”  So the way to un-frustrate them is to NOT listen?  Instead, the GOP’s answer – as dictated by Limbaugh – is to just talk at the American people, beating the same old drum, only louder. And pay no attention to the people with their hands over their ears.

Limbaugh also exploded in a fit of pique yesterday in response to former Secretary of State General Colin Powell saying in a speech on Monday that “the Republican Party is in deep trouble” and said the GOP would be better off without Limbaugh.  “I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without,” Powell said. 

So, Moby responded – in his most un-nasty way – that Powell needed to just “close the loop and become a Democrat instead of claiming to be a Republican interested in reforming the Republican Party.”  Limbaugh went further, saying, “He’s just mad at me because I’m the one person in the country who had the guts to explain his endorsement of Obama.  It was purely and solely based on race.”

It just amazes me to know that the GOP – which really does have a proud and accomplished history – is allowing its principles and ideals to be hijacked by someone who is not answerable to voters.  Rush only cares about Rush and what’s best for Rush.  He is gleefully denying being the head of the party while simultaneously killing off any voices that dissent with his.  It keeps his name and face in the news and boosts his ratings.

Like Melville’s Moby Dick – who is just a whale doing what whales do – Limbaugh is just an entertainer doing what entertainers do.  He is not evil incarnate.  He should be respected a s the force of nature that he is.  It is the party’s Ahab-like obsession, however, with Limbaugh that will destroy them.   They bow, they scrape, they kow-tow and all the while know with every fiber of their beings he will destroy them and their party.  Cantor, like Ishmael, may be all that is left after the GOP is cast to the depths of the sea.



1. Eric Cantor - Call Him Ishmael - May 7, 2009

[…] Original post by Kate Ryan […]

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