In what was overall a pretty softball interview with Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, there was one pretty telling moment to illustrate the type of toxic political environment we're living in, due primarily to Congressional leaders like Eric Cantor and that is the unwillingness to even admit facts.
When asked about his image of being someone who is unwilling to compromise and the fact that the man he claims is his hero, Ronald Reagan, was willing to compromise on taxes and work with Democrats, Cantor denied that Reagan ever "compromised his principles." When Leslie Stahl pointed out the obvious, that not raising taxes was one of his principles, Cantor's press secretary interrupted the interview, yelling from off camera that what Stahl was saying wasn't true.
As has been noted here at C&L, the Republican myth about Ronald Reagan being unwilling to raise taxes is just not true. Heaven forbid, Reagan raising taxes 11 times, not just several as the 60 Minutes report stated, might get in the way of their talking points about St. Ronnie.
You can watch the entire interview here.
Transcript below the fold.
Stahl: Given his upbringing and his marriage, Cantor says he's nothing like the intractable obstructionist the Democrats say he is.
Cantor: Nobody gets everything they want. And so--
Stahl: That's just exactly your image: that you want only what you want.
Cantor: But it's just I hope I'm not coming across like that now, because it's just not who I am. I mean, it really is--
Stahl: So are you ready to compromise?
Cantor: So I have always been ready to cooperate. I mean, if you go back to the first--
Stahl: What's the difference between compromise and cooperate?
Cantor: Well, I would say cooperate is let's look to where we can move things forward where we agree. Comprising principles, you don't want to ask anybody to do that. That's who they are as their core being.
Stahl: But you know, your idol, as I've read anyway, was Ronald Reagan. And he compromised.
Cantor: He never compromised his principles.
Stahl: Well, he raised taxes and it was one of his principles not to raise taxes.
Cantor: Well, he-- he also cut taxes.
Stahl: But he did compromise--
Cantor: Well I --
[Press Secretary: That just isn't true. And I don't want to let that stand.]
Stahl: And at that point, Cantor's press secretary interrupted, yelling from off camera that what I was saying wasn't true.
[Reagan: My fellow Americans...]
Stahl: There seemed to be some difficulty accepting the fact that even though Ronald Reagan cut taxes, he also pushed through several tax increases, including one in 1982 during a recession.
[Reagan: Make no mistake about it, this whole package is a compromise.]
Cantor: We as Republicans are not going to support tax increases.
Stahl: So, we've seen the two sides of Eric Cantor: the push and pull between his hard fighting style on legislation that appeals to his party's conservative wing and his warm, Southern gentleman demeanor.
Stahl basically admitted that part of the reason for Cantor doing the interview was to try to soften up his image as an obstructionist. I don't think he helped himself with this portion. They also featured his wife but made no mention of her conflict of interests during the TARP bailouts or the issues with the pension fund she was put in charge of that I wrote about here.
What they did discuss during the interview is that Cantor's wife is a former liberal Democrat and is still pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. I wonder how that's going to sit with those "tea party" social conservatives that he's been courting?