In his handling of the debt ceiling crisis, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor stepped out from under the shadows of his two superior congressional republicans, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and emerged as Public Enemy Number One in the eyes of democrats. In a speech from the chamber floor this morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown he shouldn't be at the table, and Republicans agree he shouldn't be at the table," and accused him of acting "childish." Reid's speech came as accusations fly that Cantor interrupted President Obama multiple times during negotiations and that he even walked out on Vice President Biden in an earlier debt ceiling meeting. Sen. Chuck Schumer too criticized Cantor in a senate speech. His staff also dug up an old Cantor high school yearbook quote—"I want what I want when I want it"—and his nickname, "Overdog" to send out to reporters.
These criticisms are in contrast to the language democrats used to describe other republican leaders. In a recent press conference, President Obama said Boehner was "sincere" in his attempts to reach a solution. Furthermore, McConnell has been praised for putting forth a back-up plan, a three-part deal to raise the debt ceiling in case negotiations continue to falter. In fact, he is working with Reid and the White House to ensure the plan can get through both the Republican House and the Democratic Senate.
Thus, Cantor stands as the lone republican obstructionist to passing a deal to raise the debt ceiling, which if not raised, could result in cataclysmic consequences for the American economy. Of the congressional republican leaders most participatory in the talks, Cantor is the most closely aligned with the Tea Party, many members of which arguing that the debt ceiling should not be raised but rather, government should cut overspending completely by August 2. But according to Reid, even Republicans have derided Cantor's behavior. Nevertheless, as Michael D. Shear in The New York Times argued, all the negative attention Cantor has received from Democrats may be actually be a positive come election season, as it will energize his Tea Party base.
We want to know what you think. Do you think the Cantor has overplayed his hand, and that his hard-lining strategy has done himself, his party and even the country more harm than good? Or do you think that Cantor's principled stance and refusal to compromise will prove him loyal to his base, and help him come November 2012? Vote here, and don't forget to add your two cents in the comment section below.