As soon as the Second Inaugural of Barack Obama was finished, the newly re-elected President walked back into the U.S. Capitol and sat down behind an ornate, oak (at least it looked like oak) desk to sign some papers. It was mostly a photo-op, but there was some rather substantive legislative business to attend to, namely, the nominations to four cabinet posts, which the President had to officially sign his name to.
To his right, he was flanked by Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. And to his left, Nancy Pelosi and a stiff, awkwardly smiling John Boehner.
The cameras flashed, the papers were signed, and the president rose to embrace his fellow leaders in government. It was a message to the country, “Everything is just fine. Look, we’re all cooperating and governing together. See?”
But, Eric Cantor was also in attendance.
And one of the most important things we’ve learned over the last four years watching Eric Cantor lead the insurgent Republican Party is that things aren’t just fine.
Four years ago Inaugural Day, as the new president, Barack Obama, was making the rounds of the inaugural balls, Eric Cantor had gathered powerful members of the Republican Party at an upscale steakhouse in Washington, DC’s Penn Quarter, a private room in a restaurant called the Caucus Room. Their agenda was straightforward. Sabotage the American economy, blame it on the young President, and then retake the White House in four years.
Paul Ryan, who, four years later, would be chosen to replace the Vice President and, thus, fulfill this agenda, was also in attendance that night. As was Newt Gingrich. And over a dozen prominent Republicans including Kevin McCarthy, Jim DeMint, and John Kyl.
As Robert Draper discloses in his book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives,” Republicans at that meeting committed themselves to what some would call political treason: an unwavering opposition to the coming Obama Presidency. Every single legislative priority coming out of the White House would be vetoed, obstructed, filibustered, or sabotaged.
This also meant a forcing the American middle class into a suicide pact. Our economy was hemorrhaging 750,000 jobs a month, and was in desperate need of prolonged government intervention and stimulus. By vowing to block these federal lifelines, Republicans knew they were condemning millions of Americans to joblessness, poverty, homelessness, and suicide.
But, the prospect of stopping the “Obama Revolution” in its tracks and reclaiming government on behalf of Reagan’s Billionaire Class was worth whatever means were needed to achieve it.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy reportedly told fellow Republicans at the meeting that they must, “Show united unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies.” Pete Session said that Republicans should take on an “insurgency mindset.” On The Thom Hartmann program, Newt Gingrich confirmed he was at the meeting and justified this insurgent mentality.
We know the Republican lawmakers followed through on their plot. House Republicans unanimously voted against every noteworthy piece of Democratic legislation. And Senators DeMint, Kyl, Coburn, Ensign, and Corker, combined together to filibuster over 300 bills in the Senate.
Together, these men crippled the economic recovery, and thus won big victories in the House in 2010. But, ultimately, they failed at their number one goal: making Barack Obama a one-term president.
And so, here’s Eric Cantor, four years after plotting the first conspiracy against the President, at another Inaugural Ceremony, and again on the receiving end of an exaggerated handshake from Barack Obama who was still the President.
We know the President has a busy night ahead of him attending inaugural balls and such. But what’s Eric Cantor up to tonight? Which Republican operatives are gathering right now in smoke-filled private dining rooms at upscale DC steakhouses plotting the destruction of the President’s second term?
But we do know that despite the Republican shellacking last November, something is afoot on the Right. Their commitment to achieving one-party rule for the Billionaire Class remains unshaken.
And though President Obama may no longer be the sole target, the American Middle Class still is.
You can see it on a state-level.
There’s Michigan’s shocking descent into becoming a right-to-work-for-less state, which will break up the unionized political base of the Democratic Party.
There’s the attempt of Pennsylvania Republicans to change how their state doles out Electoral College votes, so Republicans presidential candidates will have a huge advantage in future national elections even when the majority of the people of Pennsylvania vote against them.
And, of course, as a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the likes of Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson, and the Koch brothers are learning from their mistakes last November, and will continue their efforts to steal future elections.
The Billionaire Class and its front men in the Republican Party are hard at work again, just as they were four years ago.
Today we saw the second Democratic President since FDR to have a Second Inaugural. But just underneath the revelry, conspiracies abound. And the Billionaire Class won’t rest until they’re assured that what happened today never happens again.
The stakes have never been higher (and our need for your support has never been greater).
For over two decades, Truthout’s journalists have worked tirelessly to give our readers the news they need to understand and take action in an increasingly complex world. At a time when we should be reaching even more people, big tech has suppressed independent news in their algorithms and drastically reduced our traffic. Less traffic this year has meant a sharp decline in donations.
The fact that you’re reading this message gives us hope for Truthout’s future and the future of democracy. As we cover the news of today and look to the near and distant future we need your help to keep our journalists writing.
Please do what you can today to help us keep working for the coming months and beyond.