Readers on Rep. Cantor: The New Eddie Haskell?

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For better or worse, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is making himself the symbol of all-out, "stand up to the man" opposition to President Obama in the budget talks. Some reactions to my claim yesterday that in so doing he was "acting like a weasel."

- From a reader in California, with a reference to boomer-era pop culture:

>>Related to your all-too-accurate description of Eric Cantor's actions as weasel-like, I feel compelled to share my most frequent observation of Eric Cantor: He's Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver.

I don't mean that literally of course. But doesn't Cantor act and even look the way we all expected a grown-up Eddie Haskell to act and look? This is handy for predicting his behavior. All you have to do is ask yourself, "What would that sneaky little two-faced twerp Eddie Haskell do in this situation?" And the answer will never be far from Cantor's behavior.<<

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From a reader in Georgia:

>>Y'all are missing the point.

Eric Cantor is not concerned with the current debate. His goal is to topple John Boehner and become the first Jewish speaker of the House. It will be his place in history.

That's the entire reason why Boehner has faded from the negotiations. It's the reason Cantor is posturing during negotiations while his team is leaking like mad about how he stood up to Obama. It's the reason he has been using his position to whip up the base and make Boehner's position impossible.<<

On the Eddie Haskell point, I agree. As the reader notes, even sort of a physical resemblance, in the mouth and eyes. On the "historic first" point, who knows. Nancy Pelosi was the first female Speaker, Harry Reid is the first Mormon Majority Leader of the Senate, everyone can think of a way in which his or her own achievements are "first" of their kind. Even George W. Bush: after all, he was the first person in his family, and the first son of a president, to be re-elected president. (You can slice this very thin.) Maybe this potential role adds extra edge to Cantor's ambition, as a comparable historic niche seemed to do for Joe Lieberman. Or maybe it's just how he is.

And from a reader in Texas:

>>Mitch McConnell is also giving in to the tea party and will follow Cantor's steps...

 Now in Texas we are faced with the same mess.... Years ago, when I came to Houston in 1976, the sky was red from heavy pollution. [JF note: I was there at the time, and I remember seeing the dirty skies.]. We were building a VCM plant - a heavy carcinogen - raw material for PVC.  Diamond Shamrock at the time spent 15% of the project on pollution control.  This was due to EPA restrictions and requirements.

 This type of pollution abatement has benefited Houston.  Now we have clear skies and the red band has vanished.  We still have a long way to go - because there are still carcinogens released into the atmosphere by heavy polluters like [company name] that prefers to trade pollution credits versus fixing the simple problems.  Today's technology can handle all this with no strain.

Well our fearless leader - the now nationally recognizable Rick Perry - decided that he will fight EPA and find ways to avoid compliance and try to destroy the EPA.  Who are these guys?  Are they Americans?  Do they want us again to breath polluted dirty red air?  Do they want all of us to have cancer?... Make the other world economies stronger and their citizens healthier?  In Houston the EPC companies sell pollution control technology every day to customers outside the country. 

 All in all - the good will, the pollution control systems bought for Diamond Shamrock in the 1970's have worked to Diamond's advantage - they were a good corporate citizen....

Yes we have to get the deficit under control and everyone agrees - but we also should not roll back agencies that improve our lives.  We can make many things more efficient - but how is Perry or Cantor efficient - they are wasting our resources in positioning themselves.

 What is going on?  Where is human compassion, common sense, reasonable policy and the future planning?  You tell me?<<

After the jump, an appeal to Heaven. More on this vein in another day or two.

From a reader in Washington DC:

>>My office is in the United Methodist Building (right next to the Supreme Court), and I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see this message featured on the building's external message board (see attached). At the rate negotiations are going, this might not be a bad idea.<<

Thumbnail image for UMB Debt Sign.jpg

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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