Kids and ex-congressmen grow up quick these days.
Once the circle of life on Capitol Hill went something like this: Politician gets elected to Congress as a hot-blooded young partisan warrior, slowly transforms into a pragmatic dealmaker, then retires and bemoans the fact that these young’uns just don’t believe in bipartisanship anymore. Once this process took decades. Now it can happen in the blink of an eye—just look at former House majority leader Eric Cantor.
Cantor, who lost his seat in Congress in a shock upset in June and then promptly resigned rather than serve out the remainder of his term, is giving a series of national interviews as he transitions from politician to pundit/investment banker. And despite taking an aggressive tone for much of his tenure in the House leadership, he now sounds ready to cross the aisle and push for bipartisanship.
In interviews with Jake Tapper on CNN and Zeke Miller in Time magazine, Cantor sang the praises of Joe Biden and expressed hope for “a very productive relationship” at last between Congress and the White House. While Cantor did warn that an executive order from President Obama could preemptively sabotage the relationship between the administration and the new Republican majority on Capitol Hill, the former congressman’s appeared mostly conciliatory. Indeed, the former leader of the conservative Young Guns seems like he has been watching a lot of Morning Joe since leaving Congress.
Remember, this is the man who once bragged of his role in derailing the so-called grand bargain between Obama and John Boehner in 2011 and who was seen as a conservative rival and potential to Boehner. While Cantor could never be confused with Michele Bachmann—on issues like immigration reform, he leaned more toward the country club than the Tea Party—no one ever questioned his staunchly right-wing credentials and willingness to go to war in the partisan trenches of Washington.
Cantor may not be signing up to join No Labels anytime soon, but it’s clear that only a few months out of office has changed his perspective on Washington politics.