In the days after Eric Cantor’s defeat stunned Washington, talk on the Hill has predictably turned not so much to which professor at Randolph-Macon College will replace him in the House as to who will fill his leadership position within the Republican Party.
Top prospects already are backing away. Jeb Hensarling has announced that he will instead be focusing on his family, his district, and chairing the Financial Services Committee, while the decidedly ambitious Paul Ryan, another favorite for the post, has said he’s just not interested in the position. Funny, that’s exactly what the ruthless pragmatist of House of Cards, Frank Underwood, would say.
People close to Ryan have noted his desire to serve as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. But perhaps more tellingly, he ran as vice president on the Republican ticket in 2012, and were he to appear on the ticket again in 2016, being the party’s designated majority leader might not be the most strategic position to be in.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy has the overwhelming support of the party (though Pete Sessions is still in the running), and were Ryan to challenge him for the position, he’d risk losing the leadership race and alienating members whose good will could prove precious to him down the road. What’s more, as Underwood would surely note, majority leaders make a lot of enemies doing all that horse trading and deal cutting, particularly at a time when the GOP is going through so many transformations and reinventions.
The irony is that when actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Underwood as House majority whip and later as president, was studying up for the role, he shadowed McCarthy on the Hill. McCarthy was “very generous” with him, Spacey later told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, adding, “I don’t envy him the position.”
McCarthy may not have much in common with Underwood’s merciless personality. Indeed, McCarthy is known for his congeniality, and, as he once noted to Business Insider, he and his colleagues “don’t murder animals or members or anything like that.” But it’s also true that if he’s chosen as leader, his rise on Capitol Hill would be unprecedented. Sound familiar?
Slate’s Dave Weigel recently remarked that he’s grown to hate people saying, “It’s just like House of Cards!” whenever anything devious happens. It’s just like politics! And sometimes I agree: Art imitates life. But also, as Oscar Wilde has argued, life imitates art far more.
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"As Donald Trump captures the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee, a new poll finds he begins his general election campaign well behind Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. The new CNN/ORC Poll, completed ahead of Trump's victory last night, found Clinton leads 54% to 41%, a 13-point edge over the New York businessman, her largest lead since last July. Clinton is also more trusted than Trump on many issues voters rank as critically important, with one big exception. By a 50% to 45% margin, voters say Trump would do a better job handling the economy than Clinton would."
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal sets out to relieve conservatives of the temptation to back a third-party candidate over Donald Trump. "The thought is more tempting this year than most, but it’s still hard to see how this would accomplish more than electing Hillary Clinton and muddling the message from a Trump defeat. ... The usual presidential result is that the party that splinters hands the election to the other, more united party." But in the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol is having none of it: "Serious people, including serious conservatives, cannot acquiesce in Donald Trump as their candidate. ... Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. The Wall Street Journal cannot bring itself to say that. We can say it, we do say it, and we are proud to act accordingly."
- Nate Cohn, New York Times: "There have been 10-point shifts over the general election season before, even if it’s uncommon. But there isn’t much of a precedent for huge swings in races with candidates as well known as Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. A majority of Americans may not like her, but they say they’re scared of him."
- Roger Simon, PJ Media: "He is particularly fortunate that his opposition, Hillary Clinton, besides still being under threat of indictment and still not having defeated Bernie Sanders (go figure), is a truly uninspiring, almost soporific, figure. ... She's not a star. Trump is. All attention will be on him in the general election. The primaries have shown us what an advantage that is. What that means for American politics may not all be good, but it's true."
- The editors, The Washington Examiner: "At the very least, Trump owes it to the country he boasts he will 'make great again' to try to demonstrate some seriousness about the office he seeks. He owes this even to those who will never consider voting for him. He can start by swearing off grand displays of aggressive and apparently deliberate ignorance. This is not too much to ask."
Humana announced it plans to "exit certain statewide individual markets and products 'both on and off [Obamacare] exchange,' the insurer said in its financial results released Monday." The company also said price hikes may be forthcoming, "commensurate with anticipated levels of risk by state." Its individual-market enrollment was down 21% in the first quarter from a year ago.