Eric Cantor Thinks His Challenger, an Ayn Rand Scholar, Is “Too Liberal”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 27 2014 6:06 PM

Ayn Rand Scholars Are “Too Liberal”

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Look, guys, everyone but me is secretly a left-winger.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A couple of weeks ago, when I talked to Rep. Eric Cantor's primary opponent David Brat, the professor chortled as he told me he was being called a "liberal." This was a mind-boggler: Brat is a professor running a libertarian-funded program at his school and running against Cantor for his debt ceiling votes and refusal to rule out immigration reform.

But Brat was not kidding. Cantor's first attack ad hit Brat as—please sit down and clutch onto something sturdy for support—a "college professor" who had served on an economic board under Gov. Tim Kaine (and his Republican successor).

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Mickey Kaus now writes about Cantor's fightback—a piece of mail that brags about his April phone call with Obama, leaked everywhere, in which he denounced "amnesty." That bit of theater did not fool anti-reform hawks, which probably explains why, just today, Cantor has released a second negative ad against the vile professor and his existing-alongside-Democrats ways.

You could not ask for a better snapshot of the Tea Party capture of the GOP. Here is Eric Cantor, the "young gun," the man who helped the 2010 class scuttle any Boehner-Obama deal on the debt limit, running to the right of a guy who has published academic work on the moral foundations of Ayn Rand's canon.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.