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“Replacing One Disingenuous Politician With Another”: Dave Brat, Eric Cantor’s Career Killer, Nowhere Near Ready For Prime Time

Dave Brat—the college economics professor who pulled off a stunning primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District—was taking a victory lap through the land of talk TV this morning when he ran into a buzz saw in the guise of MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.

Spending the first part of the interview happily discussing his position as a free-market supporter, all was going according to Brat’s script until Todd dared to ask the Republican nominee some actual questions on national policy.

Chuck began by tossing Professor Brat a softball, asking whether the candidate supported a federally mandated minimum wage.

Bear in mind that this is a candidate, an economics professor, who had spent the majority of the interview up the point of Todd’s question, extolling the virtues of a free market. Yet, when asked for his position on a federal minimum wage he struggled to avoid the question, obviously afraid of angering any voters who might be listening or create any news he felt could be harmful to his chances in November.

Smelling blood in Brat’s lack of a solid response, Todd pushed him for an answer, causing Mr. Brat to reply—

“ I don’t have a well-crafted response to that one.”

Call me crazy but I would have thought that a tenured, 18 year economics professor running for Congress on a free market platform might have given some though to the issue of a federally mandated minimum wage at some point before this morning’s interview.

Indeed, one cannot help but wonder whether Professor Brat’s economics students would manage a passing grade in Econ 101 were they to respond to an exam question with “I don’t have a well-crafted response to that one.”—even if that student had not received much sleep the night before the exam (what student ever does?).

Given the reaction by Mr. Brat when facing a question that one would expect a free market expert to have previously pondered, it becomes difficult to avoid the reality that Dave Brat is more of a typical politician than he’s been letting on.

While Brat’s response to an easy question should be distressing to every Virginian who gave him their vote, let alone those who did not, it all got substantially worse when Todd asked Mr. Brat a fairly simple foreign policy question.

“On a foreign policy issue, arming the Syrian rebels. Would you be in favor of that?”

This was, to Mr. Brat’s thinking, going to far. How dare the media quiz a guy favored to enter the House of Representatives in January about his thoughts on a critical foreign policy matter?

For the man who had just toppled the House Majority Leader, a foreign policy question qualified as unfair sandbagging—and Brat wasn’t afraid to say so.

“Hey, Chuck, I thought we were just going to chat today about the celebratory aspects,” Brat said. “I’d love to go through all of this but my mind is just— I didn’t get much sleep last night. I love all the policy questions but I just wanted to talk about the victory ahead and I wanted to thank everybody that worked so hard on my campaign. I’m happy to take policy issues at any time, I just wanted to call out a thanks to everybody today.”

Really? Talk about a disingenuous response. Mr. Brat had began his interview by launching into the six tenets of Republican philosophy that he claims to hold so close to his heart—six policy positions he was clearly not too tired to recount. Brat then treated Todd’s audience to a lecture on the wonders of a free market—a recitation and message he managed to find sufficient energy to deliver, despite his stated lack of sleep that rendered him incapable of telling us his position on minimum wage.

As Erik Wemple notes in the Washington Post:

“Chuck Todd is the ultimate issues guy. How can you go on his show and wave off a question on substance?”

And, so we are all clear, MSNBC spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski confirms that “No promises were made to Brat in advance of his interview on The Daily Rundown this morning.”

Here is a tip for Mr. Brat—if you are too tired to answer a few incredibly easy policy questions, get some sleep before showing up for an interview. I can assure Mr. Brat that journalists like Chuck Todd—as well as a great many others who do what we do—also didn’t get much sleep last night. And yet, we find that we are still able to conjure up our thoughts along with a few simple questions for the candidate this morning.

Is it really asking too much of Dave Brat to be reasonably prepared to answer those questions?

After all, nobody was asking Brat to provide a full-on presentation of his policy positions—only that he tell us where he stands on minimum wage. And if Brat was expecting an MSNBC interview to be a simple opportunity to share the joy he is experiencing in his big win, voters in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District should be very concerned, indeed.

Make no mistake—I am truly pleased to see Mr. Cantor sent packing as I have long viewed the Majority Leader as little more than an opportunist who will say or do most anything to gain the support of his party’s many factions while pocketing as many political chits as he can. Cantor’s fealty to Wall Street has been very well documented, often placing the needs of the moneyed interests who fill his offices and his campaign coffers well above the needs of his constituents—something the voters of his congressional district have apparently figured out.

However, the voters of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District now need to ask themselves a question—do they really want to replace one disingenuous elected official with another disingenuous elected official?

When a candidate like Dave Brat suggests that he cannot give a simple ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ when it comes to his position on minimum wage because he didn’t get enough rest last night, how can he be described as anything but another, run-of-the-mill disingenuous politician dodging what should be a no-brainer question?

And if Mr. Brat hasn’t take a moment to think about our foreign policy, he can only be described as a seriously unprepared candidate engaging in political malpractice.

Either way, as the general election gets underway to fill Eric Cantor’s seat under the glare of a national spotlight, let’s hope that Virginians recognize that replacing one disingenuous politician with another does absolutely nothing to advance either their own interests or the interests of the nation as a whole.


By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, June 12, 2014

June 13, 2014 - Posted by | Eric Cantor, Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Brat has joined the ranks of politician. That’s what they do. At best, assuming he beats the democrat, Brat will be just as bad as Cantor.


    Comment by shotofliberty | June 13, 2014 | Reply

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