The title of this section of MillersTime is The Outer Loop, referring to the outer loop of the Washington Beltway.
It’s meant to be a forum I use to comment, on occasion, about what is happening in our nation’s capital as well as beyond it. It is also a place where I can link to articles, ideas, and thoughts about issues other than baseball, family and friends, or escapes and pleasures.
Friends often ask Ellen or myself to explain what’s happening in Washington, as if our living inside the Beltway might give us some understanding of just what’s going on here or what is going to happen.
When you’re deeply lost in the trees, it’s certainly hard to know what the forest really looks like.
Note the surprise this week by virtually everyone within the Beltway of the upset of Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a college professor in the VA 7th District primary.
When I saw reference to Cantor’s loss Tuesday night, I thought there must be some mistake. In the previous days, I had been reading that the only unknown about this primary was by how much Cantor would win and would it propel his advancement to Speaker of the House and beyond.
But what I read was not a mistake.
The mistake was Cantor’s, his handlers, and all the journalists, pundits, politicos and commentators who claim to understand Washington.
Clearly, none of them understood Virginia’s 7th District.
Yet immediately, all those who had been wrong about what was going to happen in the primary began to tell us why he lost. Their analyses changed over the next few days, as the enormity (the surprise to them) of the loss was dissected.
Only 12% of the registered voters of the 7th District voted, and the margin of victory in percentage terms was significant (more than 10%), but the actual number of people voting who contributed to Cantor’s dethroning was small.
So was this an example of Tip O’Neill’s “All Politics is Local” or was it something broader?
Did Cantor lose because of a low turnout of voters? Did he lose because he had gotten too distant from his roots, too taken with his own career, not conservative enough for the voters of his district? Was it because he was “too liberal” on some issues, particularly immigration? Or what?
I don’t know.
I do know I was delighted that Cantor lost. (Tho Ellen did warned me that the results of his loss might be even worse for governance in Washington.)
I believe that he, more than anyone else, was responsible for the gridlock in the House. As Obama was taking office, Cantor was planning a strategy for the next four (eventually eight) years to block any and all efforts for the new president to get legislation enacted.
And Cantor was enormously successful in that effort.
I have no idea what will happen now. As I write this, it seems as if Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Cantor’s choice for next Majority Leader, will succeed him to second in command. Rep. McCarthy, by all accounts, is marginally less conservative than Cantor.
There was an article yesterday in the NYTimes by liberal columnist Paul Krugman entitled, The Fix Isn’t In: Eric Cantor and the Death of a Movement.
Whether Krugman has more insight than any of the rest of us, I truly don’t know. Certainly some of his conclusions seem premature and odd to me.
Take a look and see what you think.
For those of you outside of the forest (DC), what do you think is going on?