Joe Barton isn't the issue
Eric Cantor is right: Joe Barton isn't the issue
by Jed Lewison
Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 08:40:03 AM PDTEric Cantor spent five minutes on MSNBC this morning explaining that in his view, Joe Barton isn't the issue. Cantor was right, but not in the way that he thinks.
The real issue isn't Joe Barton. It's the entire Republican Party, and the fact that in their view, the only thing Joe Barton did wrong was say out loud what they all believe in private: that President Obama acted like a "Chicago-style" thug in his "shakedown" of BP. I put those words in quotes because they come from a statement issued by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of 100 congressional conservatives in which Eric Cantor is a leading member. The statement:
However, in an administration that appears not to respect fundamental American principles, it is important to note that there is no legal authority for the President to compel a private company to set up or contribute to an escrow account.
BP’s reported willingness to go along with the White House’s new fund suggests that the Obama Administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics. These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this Administration’s drive for greater power and control.
The substance of that statement is exactly the same as what Joe Barton said, except for the theatrics of the apology. And that statement went out on Republican Study Committee letterhead, representing Eric Cantor and most other Republicans in Congress.
So Eric Cantor is right. Joe Barton isn't the issue. The issue is that Eric Cantor, along with most other Republicans in Congress, agree with what Joe Barton said. They think Barton was addressing "fundamental American principles." They pay lip service to the idea of holding BP accountable, but when push comes to shove, they think government should get out of the way and let BP do whatever it wants.
That's what they stand for, and that's the issue.