House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, who is expected to become the majority leader once Republicans assume control of the House in January, set off an unusual controversy when he told the Israeli leadership that Republicans "will serve as a check on the Administration" regarding Israel policy. Cantor made the pledge during an hour-long meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and two other senior Israeli officials. Cantor's office is now walking the statement back. Here's what people are saying about this.
- Unprecedented The Jewish Telegraphic Agency's Ron Kampeas balks, "I can't remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president. Certainly, in statements on one specific issue or another -- building in Jerusalem, or somesuch -- lawmakers have taken the sides of other nations. But to have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House -- that sounds to me extraordinary."
- Undermining Your Own President The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan writes, "Just as significant as Cantor's direct attempt to undermine his own president by siding with a foreign leader is that foreign leader's agreement to meet with him in order to advance the cause of Greater Israel. There are no parallels with this kind of direct undermining of the president on foreign policy that I can think of. Am I wrong?"
- Congress Already a 'Check' on Obama's Israel Policy Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias writes, "I think the more interesting issue is that objectively speaking Cantor’s claim that the GOP takeover of congress decreases Barack Obama’s leverage over Bibi Netanyahu is mistaken. After all, it was already the case before the election that Netanyahu had a working legislative majority in the House on key issues" in the form of "strongly AIPAC-friendly members of congress" leading the Democratic caucus."
- When Pelosi Did This, Cantor Called It a Felony The American Prospect's Adam Serwer notes, "In 2007, Republicans tried to turn Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria into a major controversy, charging her with granting legitimacy to Bashar al-Assad and violating the Logan Act, which makes it a felony to engage in unauthorized diplomacy with a foreign country. One of the Republicans alleging Pelosi had actually committed a crime was Rep. Eric Cantor. ... Based on Cantor's own standard, he's just committed a felony. Lucky for him, no one's ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act."
- Who Does Cantor Think He Is? The Washington Post's Dana Milbank snarks, "Eric Cantor seems to be settling in well as secretary of state. Technically, his position is expected to be majority leader of the House next year, but he is already operating his own foreign policy. ... As the administration seeks ways to revive peace talks in the region, it must be reassuring to all sides that Cantor will serve as a vital check on peacemaking efforts."