All Or Nothing: Rep. Cantor's Confused Approach To Compromise

September 09, 2011 2:45 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Rep. Eric Cantor

Unlike many conservatives, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is attempting to strike a conciliatory tone in response to President Obama's speech introducing the American Jobs Act, emphasizing areas of potential agreement between Republicans and the president. Unfortunately, he's having some trouble pulling it off.

Last night on Fox News, Cantor complained that Obama had called on Congress to pass his proposal, "all or nothing." As Cantor told Sean Hannity, "That's not a serious way to go and accomplish some policy results."  

CANTOR: It is just striking to me that the president would sort of lay down the gauntlet and say, pass my package, all or nothing. Especially after all we've been through here. Now, as you indicate there was plenty in there, and policy-wise, there are some things that sort of resonate with the Republicans. [...]

But when he says, it is basically all or nothing, you know, that is not how things can get done. That's not a serious way to go and accomplish some policy results.

Obama never said his bill was an all-or-nothing proposition, but that's not the only reason Cantor's lament rings hollow. Congressional Republicans have habitually criticized the lack of specific plans from the president. Now that Obama has crafted his own legislation, what did Cantor expect — that he would not ask Congress to pass it? Meanwhile, Republicans have spent eight months in the majority introducing ideological fantasies — bills that don't include any ideas that Democrats support — and trying to pass them off as compromises.   

Cantor concluded that Obama "missed an opportunity" to call on both parties to transcend partisan politics and "stick to what the mission is here" — which is exactly what the president did when he criticized the "press releases and tweets flying back and forth" and rejected the narrative "that it's impossible for us to bridge our differences."

It's no surprise that Cantor didn't notice, though, because Cantor still only accepts one definition of compromise: giving Republicans what they want.