We have a new rivalry in the Republican party! A struggle over its soul, a death-battle, a cannibal free-for-all -- exciting times! In one corner: a young pop-music-loving Virginian with a fresh approach to conservative politics. In the opposite corner: a leatherfaced chain-smoking tuff guy from Ohio. Together they have done more to embarrass their party than nearly anybody else this year.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor got off to a fine start when he voted, along with nearly all the House Democrats and a good number of House Republicans, to levy a 90 percent tax on AIG employee bonuses. This bill was such a terrible idea that even some of the nation's most reliable liberals said they weren't sure it was constitutional. But Cantor went along with it, just to prove that not all Republicans are against compromising one of the most basic components of their small-government, anti-tax political philosophy if they get enough angry constituent calls.
Soon enough, people quit caring about Cantor's vote because they had an even bigger reason for outrage. The venerable Washington political journal Wonkettebroke the news that the congressman had spent last Tuesday evening at a Britney Spears concert instead of listening to President Obama's press conference. This means that Cantor is not only a bad American, he also likes terrible music.
Cantor did show one bit of good judgment recently, however: he foresaw the huge PR disaster that would come with prematurely releasing a Republican alternative to the president's proposed budget. (A budget, as you know, tends to include lots of math and numbers, and graphs, all of which take some time and effort to work up.)
But under the command of mahogany-hued John Boehner, the House Minority Leader, Republicans released a laughable budget proposal [PDF] that featured such detailed and concrete policy suggestions as "keep the cost of living low," along with photographs. The "budget" did not include projections from the Congressional Budget Office about how much the Republican plan might cost, nor did it include any other information that might be considered useful. House Republicans promise they'll have a plan, though, soon. Probably after Obama's budget has already passed.
So this is who House Republicans "get" to enjoy as their leaders these days: a goof-off who votes with Democrats on one of the most important tax issues of our time, or a sullen buffoon who makes his whole party look like rank amateurs who can't be bothered to do math. And you thought Nancy Pelosi was bad.