the national interest

Everybody Hates Eric Cantor: A Roundup

WASHINGTON - APRIL 07: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill on April 7, 2011 in Washington, DC. Cantor discussed a continuing resolution passed by the House of Representatives that would fund the Department of Defense for an additional week while the current budget stalemate is negotiated. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eric Cantor
Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re a jerk and everybody hates you. Photo: Brendan Hoffman/2011 Getty Images

A fact that keeps popping up in stories about the shocking defeat of Eric Cantor is that, apparently, everybody hated him. Everybody. “Cantor was never well liked,” reports Jon Ward, “especially by conservatives, who considered him a fraud.” It’s certainly true that conservatives detested Cantor, and not just those who clashed with him professionally. Erick Erickson reports that the loathing extended well into Cantor’s professional network:

One conservative recently told me that Cantor’s staff were the “biggest bunch of a**holes on the Hill.” An establishment consultant who backed Cantor actually agreed with this assessment. That attitude moved with Cantor staffers to K Street, the NRSC, and elsewhere generating ill will toward them and Cantor. Many of them were perceived to still be assisting Cantor in other capacities. After Cantor’s loss tonight, I got a high volume of emails from excited conservatives, but also more than a handful of emails from those with establishment Republican leanings all expressing variations on “good riddance.”

Yet Cantor hate appears to be more than a mere intra-Republican phenomenon. It stretches far and wide. The Obama administration regarded him with a special loathing. (“Behind the scenes, aides would describe Cantor as an opportunist or devoid of substance and only out to antagonize the president and whip up tea party support for his own gain.”) Jewish Democrats found hima supremely annoying figure.

Anywhere professional politicians gathered last night, the Cantor news led to spontaneous, Berlin Wall–type rejoicing. “An informal dinner party at the Georgetown apartment of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader,” reports the New York Times, “turned into a celebration.” At a conservative dinner party, reports BuzzFeed, “Bozell described the group’s mood as ‘ebullient.’

A new poll of Cantor’s district finds that Cantor’s own constituents despised him, disapproving of his performance by a 63-30 margin.

So the ranks of Cantor haters include tea party Republicans, mainstream Republicans, all Democrats, Jewish Democrats in particular, and Cantor’s neighbors. That’s everybody, right? Anybody left? Apparently, the remaining demographic slice still loyal to the soon-to-be-former majority leader is Jewish Republicans. Alex Burns reports that Matt Brooks, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition — “coalition” might be overstating things; really more of a Republican Jewish guy — is appropriately devastated at the loss, calling the upset “one of those incredible, evil twists of fate that just changed the potential course of history.

Somebody has to weep for Cantor.