Monday, October 11, 2010
Eric needs a hug
Scene: Sunday afternoon, October 10, 2010. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor are seated in the back seat of a long Fox News limousine. Cantor has only just completed a segment on Fox News Sunday where he debated Chief Deputy Whip Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Boehner holds a tumbler with a finger of brown bourbon in his left hand; he gazes out the window as the streets of Washington, DC roll by.
Cantor: Did you see it? How 'bout that, eh? I really let her have it.
Boehner: Yeah, real triumph.
Cantor: Watch out, America! Here come the Young Guns!
Cantor: Poor Debbie! Pelosi sends her in to the Lion's Den and she runs into my buzz saw. I want you to know, John, that I consider myself a gentleman. I don't like making her look bad like that.
Boehner [curling his lip in a sneer]: Don't mess with the Young Guns, eh, Cantor?
Cantor: You can sneer if you want, John, but just remember, I've got candidates lining up in my stable. And we might have some say about who becomes the new Republican Speaker in January.
Boehner: Who says I'm sneering? [Boehner takes on an expression of mocking kindness.] Don't you know, Eric? You've been like a son to me...
Cantor: What an asshole!
Boehner: Yeah, well, that gang of Young Guns is an impressive bunch alright. I hear ol' Rich Iot likes to play army out in the woods. Just like that gang of hillbillies... what was the name? Hutaree?
Cantor: John, I didn't like it when Debbie brought that up and I like it a lot less coming from you.
Boehner: Now, Eric, I want you to remember, it was you who felt the need to remind people how Jewish you are. It's good politics. We've got enough problems with minorities, and enough kooks on the ballot that you don't need to drag the backwoods for wanna-be Storm Troopers.
Cantor: John, that's a slander on my good name.
Boehner [laughing]: I have truly heard it all now.
Cantor: I don't get it, John? You could soon be the Speaker of the House. It's like you don't want it.
Boehner: Listen, kid, [he slugs down the last of his bourbon] this rabble of hooligans we've got coming up doesn't play by the rules we're used to. It's gonna be anarchy, and mark my words, in two years Obama is gonna have us all over a barrel. Anything that looks like victory this November is going to bury us all. Mark... my... words.
[They sit quietly. Boehner goes back to looking out the window. Cantor sits staring at his knees, his lower lip trembling.]
Cantor : I hate her.
Boehner: What the--? Who are you talking about?
Cantor : Debbie. Representative Wasserman Shultz. All my life, it's been women like her making me feel this way. [His voice breaks.] Maybe I wasn't an athlete. Maybe I wasn't an intellectual. Maybe I was just a good-looking kid with a nice smile. Why wasn't that ever enough? [He is crying miserably, now, tears streaming down his cheeks.] Damn it, John! I just want to be the guy that gets noticed for once. Why can't it be me, John? Why can't it ever be me? [He buries his face in his hands.]
[Boehner gapes, astounded. First he looks away, but as Cantor continues to sob, Boehner reaches over and pats the distraught man's knee.]
Boehner: Steady there, old chap.
[Cantor's sobs grow louder. He slumps over on the seat, burying his face on Boehner's shoulder.]
Cantor : It's not fair! It's not fair!
Boehner [uncomfortably]: There, there, Eric. There, there, old boy. You're still a Republican. Don't forget that.
[Cantor is inconsolable.]