Happy Hour Roundup

June 11

* Eric Cantor held an emotional presser today at which he confirmed he will be stepping down as Majority Leader on July 31st. Asked if immigration reform — which is being blamed for Cantor’s defeat — should move forward now, Cantor said:

I will say that my position on immigration has not changed. It didn’t change from before the election, during the election or the way it is today….I don’t believe in this “my way or the highway” approach that the president has laid out, and I’ve continued to take that position. I’ve said that there’s common ground at the border. There’s common ground. I would like to see the issue of the kids addressed by those that didn’t break any laws and come here unbeknownst to them. So again, I’ve always said that there should be and is common ground, if we would just allow ourselves to work together.

And it’s true — Cantor was not a supporter of real immigration reform. David Brat spun his hints of support for legalizing the DREAMers into a part of a much broader narrative. — gs

* Jennifer Rubin is skeptical that immigration reform was what really led to Eric Cantor’s loss; she points to multiple polls suggesting even Republicans support reform.

* Another conservative writer, Matt Lewis, makes a key point about the larger meaning of Cantor’s defeat:

This seems to have become a self-fulfilling prophesy of the GOP’s own choosing; Democrats now “own” the immigration reform “brand,” which has all sorts of long-term consequences and implications, including the fact that conservatives now reflexively oppose even moderate reforms like the DREAM Act. And frankly, I suspect, Democrats are perfectly happy with that.

Why wouldn’t they be?

* Molly Ball also has a good piece debunking the notion that immigration caused Cantor’s defeat, pointing to the complicating fact that pro-reform Lindsey Graham didn’t have much trouble fending off his right wing challenger. Difference: Graham ran a better campaign.

* Molly Redden and David Corn have a useful look at Dave Brat’s positions on the issues. He’s about what you’d expect:

A quick review of his public statements reveals a fellow who is about as tea party as can be. He appears to endorse slashing Medicare and Social Security payouts to seniors by two-thirds. He wants to dissolve the IRS. And he has called for drastic cuts to education funding, explaining, “My hero Socrates trained in Plato on a rock. How much did that cost? So the greatest minds in history became the greatest minds in history without spending a lot of money.”

His hero Socrates also did without running water, toilets, electricity, or medicine. So what do we need those things for? This guy will soon be making our laws.

* Fun fact of the day, courtesy of Ed Kilgore: With Cantor out, in the “big tent” of the GOP, there is now not a single non-Christian in Congress.

* Ari Rabin-Havt touches on an aspect of the Bowe Bergdahl story that’s received little attention: Why did he walk off his base in the first place? The truth may be more complicated than what so many would have us believe.

*Paul Glastris and Haley Sweetland Edwards take a detailed look at the GOP’s decades-long campaign to make Congress dumber and more ignorant, even as the policy challenges facing the government have become more complex.

* And speaking of dumb, Louie Gohmert took some time in a hearing on Capitol Hill today trying to get a witness to confirm that people who don’t believe in Jesus will in fact burn in eternal hellfire. Your tax dollars at work.

* Kevin Drum looks at the deteriorating situation in Iraq and marvels at the hawks who say it all could have been different if we had just hung around:

I find it fantastical that anyone could read about what’s happening and continue to believe that a small US presence in Iraq could ever have been more than a Band-Aid. I mean, just read the report. Two divisions of Iraqi soldiers turned tail in the face of 800 insurgents. That’s what we got after a decade of American training. How can you possibly believe that another few years would have made more than a paper-thin difference? Like it or not, the plain fact is that Iraq is too fundamentally unstable to be rebuilt by American military force. We could put fingers in the dikes, but not much more.

* And Taegan Goddard catches an item about a thoughtful GOP state house candidate from Oklahoma named Scott Esk who said we would be “totally in the right” to stone gay people to death, though according to News Channel 4 he qualified this a bit:

“What I will tell you right now is that was done in the old testament under a law that came directly from God. And in that time, it was totally just, it came directly from God. I have no plans to, you know, reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins.”

So rest easy, gay Oklahomans. No plans to try to pass a law mandating that you be stoned to death. For now, anyway.

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