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What is Eric Cantor Thinking?

Josh Marshall takes a whack at House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) for telling The Washington Post that he’s “studying Winston Churchill’s role leading the Tories in the late 1930s, a principled minority that was eventually catapulted into power over the Labor Party.” The 1930s were, of course, the “wilderness years” in which Churchill was sparring with the leadership of his party, who actually ran the government (through a coalition arrangement) from 1931 to 1945.

Not only is Eric Cantor no Winston Churchill, I’m not even sure he’s read a book about Winston Churchill.

I’m going to give Cantor the benefit of the doubt. One of the big Churchill books of recent years was Troublesome Young Men, Lynne Olsen’s 2007 history of the Conservative Party rebels who agitated against the appeasement policy of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and eventually ousted him in favor of Churchill. Like many Churchill books it was widely-read and debated on the right, with conservatives seeing former President George W. Bush as a modern Churchill facing down Democratic appeasers, to the point where Olsen wrote a column arguing against that reading of the book.

While the “eventually catapulted into power” phrase is still nonsense, it’s possible that Cantor sees his wing of the GOP as the troublesome young men who are holding the line and being betrayed by the modern Stanley Baldwins and Neville Chamberlains who keep cutting deals in the Senate. I’ve asked Cantor’s office to clear this up, but this analogy is incredibly popular on talk radio, where Cantor is a sort of conservative Muad’dib.

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