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The Gentleman From Virginia: The Rise and Fall of Eric Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history, hails not from the urban melting pot but from a Southern, explicitly Christian America

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Representative Eric Cantor, the six-term Virginia congressman, is not a brilliant strategist or a visionary policymaker. He is, however, a very good politician. At 47, he cuts a trim figure in his dark two-button suits, with a full head of black hair and a strong jaw line that comes across well on camera. He speaks in calm, measured tones with a butterscotch lilt that makes him sound extremely reasonable when he talks about contentious subjects, like repealing health-care reform or slashing the federal budget. When he wants to seem conspiratorial—I’m on your side—his left eyebrow goes up behind his thin black wire-frame glasses; when he wants to seem sincere, both eyebrows rise in unison, and three deep grooves appear on his forehead. When he wants to make it clear he really, really means what he’s saying, the ghost of a fourth line appears just below his hairline, and he chops at the air in front of him for added effect. His default setting is “serious.”

Last month, when the Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and John Boehner was elected speaker, Cantor became majority leader, the second most powerful person in the chamber and the one tasked with driving the partisan agenda heading into the 2012 presidential campaign cycle. Cantor’s elevation, from minority whip, makes him the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history. As a Jewish politician, he is an anomaly: a Southern conservative and the sole Jewish Republican to be seated in Congress. (Indeed, he has held that distinction since April 2009, when former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter defected to the Democratic Party.) Unlike other moderate and conservative Jewish legislators—Specter, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, or even former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman—Cantor was raised far outside the urban, liberal milieu familiar to most American Jews. His congressional district, Virginia’s 7th, once belonged to Absalom Robertson, the father of televangelist Pat Robertson, and his hometown, Richmond, was once the capital of the Confederacy. In a place where religion permeates the public sphere, Cantor has succeeded by turning his Jewish identity from an ethnic distinction into a signal of the values and civic commitment he shares with his gentile constituents.

Cantor often describes himself as “a minority within a minority”—a Jew from the South, and a conservative Republican whose views are sharply at odds with those of the predominantly Democratic Jewish electorate—and this allows him to occasionally affect a self-deprecating, and sympathetic, underdog quality. He grew up in Richmond’s historic but tiny Jewish community, and in a solidly Republican household when Virginia was still Yellow Dog Democrat country. His parents sent him and his two brothers to the Collegiate School, a prestigious private academy that featured annual Christmas pageants, but they kept a kosher home. He was bar mitzvahed at the city’s main Conservative synagogue, where his own children also had their bar and bat mitzvahs. Cantor keeps kosher at work—his Democratic predecessor, Steny Hoyer, got him egg-salad sandwiches when they met for a rare bipartisan lunch in late January—and at home, where his mother-in-law supervises the kitchen. When I met Cantor in his new, eggnog-yellow office late last month, I asked him whether he would have preferred to grow up in a place where being Jewish wasn’t quite so exotic. “I think it’s given me a real appreciation—” he began, and then he paused. He looked directly at me and started again: “You know, we live in a Christian country.”

Since the beginning of the year, Cantor has become the de facto public face of a party that has grown steadily more religious and more suburban in the two decades since he began working his way up its ranks. In Young Guns, the conservative manifesto Cantor co-wrote last year with his House colleagues Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan, the congressman drew an explicit analogy between their churchgoing and his own synagogue attendance. “I pray on Saturday with a Southern accent,” Cantor wrote. “Paul and Kevin go to church on Sunday and talk to God without dropping their Gs.” What set him apart growing up—his distance from the heavily Jewish cities that now serve as metonyms for liberal elitism, his native ease with the Christian references so many Republican partisans use to define their political values—has become his passport into the heart of the GOP establishment. His position has been cemented by his reputation as a rainmaker for his colleagues and his party—$60 million in the 2008 election cycle, an estimated $10 million of which came from heavy-hitting Jewish donors across the country. His own campaign included donations from Republican casino mogul Sheldon Adelson to Chicago magnate Lester Crown, who was also a key Obama supporter the same year.

“A Jewish politician from Richmond is very different from a Jewish politician from the Upper West Side of Manhattan,” explained Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard editor who invented the “Young Guns” appellation. But there have been Jewish politicians from the South before—Democrats like Ben Erdreich, who was elected to Congress from Birmingham, Alabama, in 1982, and Norman Sisisky, who joined Virginia’s congressional delegation almost two decades before Cantor. Cantor is the first to emerge from a generation that grew up weaned on the red-blooded Republicanism of Reagan’s successful implementation of Nixon’s Southern Strategy. “Eric is certainly able to connect to a national Republican audience more than most Jewish politicians,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public-policy arm. “He’s a social conservative, a traditional Jewish person with conservative social mores.”

In a sense, Cantor is following a model successfully pioneered by earlier generations of Southern Jews who achieved prominence in city and state politics—men like Emanuel J. Evans, known as “Mutt,” who as mayor of Durham, North Carolina, from 1951 to 1963, took pains to make sure his campaign posters noted his synagogue presidency and his work on behalf of Israel bonds. “My father said, ‘People down here respect church work,’ ” explained Evans’ son, Eli, author of The Provincials: A History of Jews in the South. “This is the tone for really successful Southern politicians, and Cantor has that one down pat.”


The history of Jews in Richmond stretches back to the colonial era. The city had a small but well-rooted Sephardic community; its first synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome, was established in 1789, the year George Washington was sworn in as president. As the city grew, it attracted an increasing number of Jews, including German Jews like Samuel and Judith Myers, whose son, Gustavus Myers, a lawyer and a trustee of the Reform Temple Beth Ahabah, served nearly 30 years on the city council, including 12 terms as mayor in the mid-19th century. Myers also played an instrumental role in encouraging his friend, the Louisiana senator Judah Benjamin, to take a prominent role in Jefferson Davis’ Confederate government—advice Myers gave because he believed that “Jews of high station reflected well in the eyes of both the Gentiles and other Jews by serving in visible office,” as Evans wrote in his biography of Benjamin. After the Civil War, it was a Jewish former cadet from Richmond, Moses Ezekiel, who won the commission to design the Confederate Soldiers’ Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Cantor’s family arrived in Richmond from Eastern Europe in the wave of Jewish immigration around the turn of the 20th century. His father, Eddie, grew up in downtown Jackson Ward, a predominantly black neighborhood known as “the Harlem of the South,” living above the grocery run by his widowed mother, Frances. Eddie was an overachiever determined to make his way up the civic ladder. He graduated from John Marshall, one of the city’s best public high schools, at 15, and went on to Virginia Tech and the University of Richmond law school before going into practice with his older brother, Robert. He met Mary Lee Hudes, a schoolteacher from Baltimore, on a blind date set up by one of her University of Maryland sorority sisters. “They needed short dates—Eddie was short, and so was I,” explained Mary Lee, whose Romanian-born father, an ardent Zionist, ran a furniture store. Eddie impressed her as a real Southern gentleman. (Eddie, now 78, is ill and wasn’t available for interviews.) “I had to go to the restroom, and this guy got up—he was like a jumping jack,” Mary Lee told me. “I had never seen such manners.”

Continue reading: Richmond Republicans, a mentor, and the youngest member of the state assembly. Or view as a single page.
Eric, the second of their three boys, was born June 6, 1963. At the time, Richmond was in the throes of integration, but life carried on as usual in the upscale West End, where the Cantors had settled. “I was in my own little Jewish world,” Mary Lee explained. With her mother-in-law, she opened a maternity store in a local strip mall, but her main focus was taking care of her sons. The family began keeping kosher. Mary Lee’s observant maiden aunt relocated from Baltimore and moved in nearby. They were active members of Temple Beth El, the city’s large Conservative synagogue, where Eddie had taught Sunday school before he got married.

A Jewish day school opened in Richmond in 1966, but Mary Lee pushed her husband to enroll the boys at Collegiate, where Richmond’s first-string Jewish families—like the Thalhimers, who owned the big department store downtown—sent their children. “Eddie was raised very poor,” Mary Lee told me. “His argument was that there’s only one type of society there, and he was concerned the boys were only going to see that society.” What didn’t worry her, she said, was the prospect of having them perform each year in the school’s Christmas pageant. “They didn’t do a lot of, excuse me, Christ-y things,” she explained. After she and her husband went to Israel for their 13th wedding anniversary, in 1972, Eric’s older brother, Stuart, did a slideshow presentation about the Jewish state for his third-grade class. “For Hanukkah I did latkes and a menorah, for Passover we’d bring matzoh,” said Mary Lee.

The boys’ extracurricular lives revolved around their Jewish activities. “They went to Hebrew school three times a week, and if they had Little League practice, they got to practice late,” Mary Lee told me. “They knew they were Jewish.” All three brothers joined Jewish youth groups like United Synagogue Youth and the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. “He grew up like any Jewish kid in the mid-Atlantic South, doing the normal stuff everyone did,” recalled one childhood friend, who remembers going on Indian Guide overnight trips with Cantor and his father.

The one thing they did that few others did, though, was talk Republican politics. As the boys were growing up, their father became increasingly involved in civic affairs—and in the nascent Republican movement that was emerging in opposition to the Harry F. Byrd Democratic political machine, known simply as “The Organization,” which controlled Virginia for most of the 20th century. “Eddie was a Jewish Republican when there weren’t any Jewish Republicans in Richmond,” said Phil Cantor, a cousin. “You could easily say you didn’t know any Jewish Republicans other than Eddie Cantor.” As a Jew, he was barred from joining the silk-stocking Country Club of Virginia and the Commonwealth Club downtown, despite having grown wealthy from his real-estate dealings, but he was welcomed at the Virginia Masons’ Fraternal Lodge 53. As an outsider, he had little to lose, socially or in business, from bucking the Democratic hierarchy and everything to gain as conservative Dixiecrats drifted further away from their liberal Yankee brethren.

When the boys were little, Mary Lee made sure they waited until their father got home to sit down to supper—“no matter what time he got home from work,” Mary Lee said. “They’d say, ‘We’re hungry, why do we have to wait,’ but I’d have them do their homework instead, and we’d have discussions at the dinner table that Eddie would lead—politics, current events, sports, whatever questions they had.” When Eric was in high school, a friend of his father’s, Richard Obenshain, a fellow attorney, was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. (Obenshain died in a plane crash before the general election and was replaced on the ballot by John Warner, the former Navy secretary then married to Elizabeth Taylor.) In 1980, Eddie, who was serving as state treasurer for the Reagan campaign, recruited Tom Bliley, Richmond’s Democratic former mayor, to make what turned out to be a successful run for Congress as a Republican. Bliley was a Catholic whose family ran the local funeral parlor and was happy to make common cause with Cantor. “We buried most of the Jews in Richmond, almost all of them, so I was well known in the Jewish community,” Bliley said. “Eddie and Mary Lee welcomed me with open arms and supported me in my bid for the nomination.” The family effort included Eric, who volunteered on the campaign. “They were like peas in a pod,” Bliley said of 17-year-old Eric and Eddie, who was a delegate to the 1980 Republican nominating convention in Detroit.

As a result, Eric Cantor never went through the archetypal reactionary experience of being “mugged by reality” that characterized an older generation of Jewish neoconservatives like Irving Kristol—and he didn’t forge his political ideas in the crucible of the College Republicans, where so many of his Reagan-era conservative cohort found their inspiration. As a freshman at George Washington University, in 1981, Cantor interned in Bliley’s Washington office, and the next year he was promoted to chauffeur, driving Bliley around during his re-election campaign. The two became “fast friends,” as Bliley put it, and remained close as his young protégé made his way through law school, at William & Mary. After passing the Virginia bar, in 1988, Cantor made a detour, moving up to New York for a year to do a master’s at Columbia in real-estate development. It was a culture shock, at least for his mother. “He had the cruddiest housing,” she told me. “It was across from Central Park, and that was the only nice thing about it. The wind was so bad in the winter he had to put towels around the windows to keep it out.”

But Cantor, then 25, nevertheless managed to tap into the city’s magical alchemy: While he was in New York, he fell in love. During our meeting in his office last month, he talked about courting the woman he would marry. A classmate set him up on a blind date with Diana Fine, a Miami Beach native who had gone to law school at New York University and was working at Goldman Sachs as a vice-president handling leveraged buyouts. “Just on a lark this friend introduced us, and that was it,” he told me, with a dreamy look, when we met last month—the only time I saw him break his reserved public persona. “Falling in love in New York City is a very cool thing.” He shook his head, and let out a deep, genuine sigh.

Diana, six years older than Cantor, was freshly grieving for her father, Ronald, who died of cancer in November 1988. When Cantor finished at Columbia, she agreed to return with him to Richmond, where they were married in 1989. “Middle ground,” Mary Lee said, with a laugh. “Eric had a job here, and she’d had enough of New York.” The joke at the wedding was that it was a mixed marriage: Diana came from a family with New York roots on both sides, and her grandmother, Mildred, who held a master’s in home economics from Columbia, was a well-known Democratic activist who was elected in 1979, at 72, to a term as Miami Beach commissioner.

All three Cantor brothers joined the family’s commercial real-estate business. Eric—the only one to follow their father to law school—was put to work handling routine legal transactions, including debt collections, according to Brett Zwerdling, a local bankruptcy attorney who remembers running into Cantor around the courthouse. But it quickly became clear that Eddie, who was then a district Republican committee chairman, had bigger plans for his middle son. In 1991, a few days short of his 28th birthday and with an infant son at home, Eric Cantor filed his candidacy for a vacant seat in the House of Delegates, the lower chamber of Virginia’s legislature. With help from his father and other Republican party activists who had watched him grow up, Cantor assiduously collected endorsements, and he beat his nearest primary challenger by nearly a 2-to-1 margin in a three-hour nominating contest held in a high-school gym—and called to order with a prayer invocation, according to an account in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. There were no Democratic challengers in the general election, and in 1992, Cantor became the youngest member of the state assembly.


Eight years later, Cantor would win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. But his ascent to Washington was almost stopped by a fellow Jewish Republican, the super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff—or at least that’s how the story came to be told in the wake of Abramoff’s conviction for conspiring to bribe senior members of Congress. What actually happened is more complicated.

Continue reading: “Virginia values,” personal religious ties, and “I want what I want.” Or view as a single page.
In 2000, Bliley, the congressman and Cantor’s patron, was set to lose his chairmanship of the powerful Commerce Committee under the Republican Majority’s term-limit plan. Instead, he decided to retire from Congress, and he anointed Cantor as his preferred successor. “I have advised all my former colleagues, when you get ready to retire, you pick the person you think is best to succeed you,” Bliley told me. “You go right in and get the best person elected—you don’t do this ‘good government’ thing and stay out of it.”

The district had been redrawn in 1990 to exclude heavily African-American central Richmond, which got its own de facto Democratic seat, and became a solidly Republican district that covered Richmond’s fast-growing West End, home to tobacco giant Philip Morris, and extended northwest toward the Appalachians. “It was like putting Brer Rabbit in the briar patch,” said Bliley. “I had to learn about agriculture—I think in my old district they grew more marijuana than anything else.” But the area is also capital-C Christian, saddled between Robertson’s 700 Club stronghold in Virginia Beach and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University compound in Lynchburg. Even at Richmond’s city limits, River Road swoops past the Country Club of Virginia, with its enormous American flag waving over the golf course. “There are probably as few Catholics in Richmond as there are Jewish people,” said Juanita Duggan, a former Philip Morris lobbyist who worked with both Bliley and Cantor. “So the fact that Mr. Cantor and Mr. Bliley teamed up together was a brilliant move on both of their parts.”

At the time, the neighboring district was still represented by Norman Sisisky, the first Jewish congressman elected from Virginia, who graduated from John Marshall High School a few years ahead of Eddie. Sisisky, who made his fortune as a Pepsi bottler in southern Virginia, was a conservative Democrat and a member of the Blue Dog caucus in the 1990s. “My dad voted Republican as often as Democratic,” Sisisky’s son, Mark, explained. “Republicans liked him because he was a businessman himself—he wasn’t a lawyer, and he’d made payroll in his life—and Democrats got him because he came from a poor background, and he was very close to the African-American community.”

But Cantor’s district was solidly Republican—so much so that local Democrats nearly failed to field a candidate in the general election. Cantor had been establishing himself as a pro-gun, anti-abortion, pro-business Reaganite conservative. In his congressional primary, he picked up an endorsement from Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, who had been a supporter in Cantor’s first House of Delegates race, and poured more than $730,000 into the race, more than five times as much as his opponent, a state senator named Steve Martin. But Martin posed a serious challenge: He had the advantage of being a Baptist from a rural area, and he was a seasoned political scrapper who bragged that he was a graduate of “UHK”—the University of Hard Knocks. In the final week of the primary campaign mailers went out attacking Cantor with allegations that he had evaded taxes: “Millionaire lawyer Eric Cantor says he wants to cut your taxes—but he didn’t pay his own.” The mailers were paid for by the Faith and Family Alliance, a political interest group tied to former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, who also used the Alliance around the same time as a pass-through for checks from Abramoff that were connected to an effort to block an Internet-gambling ban. Martin, who remains in the Virginia state Senate, has spent a decade trying to get out from under the issue. “I was not aware of it and was quite bothered when I found out,” he told me on the phone in January. “I think Eric’s been doing very well.” (Abramoff threw a fundraiser for Cantor at his kosher deli and named a sandwich—roast beef on challah—after the congressman in 2003, two years before the scandal erupted.)

The mailers were also accompanied by a whisper campaign questioning Cantor’s allegiance to “Virginia values”—and promoting Martin as “the only Christian” in the race. In the end, Cantor won, but by a slim margin of 263 votes. “Some people don’t like him because he is a Jewish guy, but look, I’m thoroughbred German on both sides, and if anyone was going to dislike him for that, it would be me,” explained Oswald Gasser, a drawling 86-year-old Richmond political fixture and one of Cantor’s earliest allies, who still goes by his childhood nickname, Big Boy. “But everyone deserves to be represented. He goes to the Jewish church. I don’t because I’m a Baptist. It’s all right.” A few minutes later, he added, “Eric represents the whole country and he is a broad enough person to accomplish that.”

At the time, Cantor responded indignantly, telling a reporter, “It’s the year 2000”—a year in which Joe Lieberman ran for vice-president on the Democratic ticket. “The right to practice one’s religion is one of the things this country was founded upon,” he told Style Weekly, the Richmond alternative paper. “That whole issue is just repugnant.”

The affair exemplified the kind of genteel anti-Semitism Richmond’s Jewish community had long since learned to shrug off. “If you grow up here, it’s what you know,” Lee Krumbein, a furniture-store owner who is close with the Cantor family, told me. One prominent local Jewish philanthropist earnestly told me, “I don’t think it was so much anti-Semitic as a ‘stick with your own kind’ message. It’s no more anti-Semitic than us saying ‘vote for the Jew’ is anti-Christian.” And Jewish leaders weren’t shy about trying to turn out the insular Jewish community on Cantor’s behalf. Richard November, a developer who was at the time president of Richmond’s Jewish federation, sent out a letter to the federation’s mailing list urging them to support Cantor as a fellow Jew, even if they weren’t Republicans, because it would be good for the community, and good for Israel. “I caught some criticism for it, but it’s OK—I’ve caught criticism before,” November told me. “I am supportive of Eric and doubly so because he is Jewish.”

Cantor is relatively private about his personal religious ties. When he’s in Richmond for the weekend—which isn’t often now, given his travel schedule—he attends the Orthodox synagogue, Keneseth Beth Israel, along with his parents, his brothers, and their families. The congregation was established in 1856, and it used to occupy a former church building close to downtown; these days, it’s housed in a nondescript, 1970s-vintage building further west, in a residential neighborhood that fills on Saturdays with observant families pushing baby carriages and teenagers running to get to services just in time for kiddush lunch to start. Cantor’s older brother, Stuart, is on the board of the congregation and of Richmond’s sole Jewish day school; in 2002, Stuart and his wife, Joan, also helped sponsor the annual dinner of the One Israel Fund, which provides aid for Jewish families living in the West Bank. Cantor, whose photograph was recently featured opposite Hillary Clinton’s on AIPAC’s website, has been politically supportive of Israel, helping establish a trade liaison office in Virginia.

His extended family includes one cousin who now lives in Israel as a Messianic preacher and another, Daniel Cantor Wultz, who was killed in a 2006 terrorist attack in Tel Aviv while visiting his father’s Israeli relatives. But when I asked Cantor about being personally touched by the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he responded with generalities. “Well, it’s a horrific thing to have happen to a family, and I try to visit with those cousins as often as I can,” said Cantor, who visited Wultz’s family on a trip to Florida in December. “I do think that incident did bring home to many people that there are enemies out there who will avenge their hatred by killing themselves and Israel happens to be on the front lines of the same war that we are in this country, and that’s a war being fought against the spread of radical Islam, and the terrorist threat that it carries.”

As a state legislator, Cantor sat on the board of the JCC and helped secure a state-owned former tobacco warehouse for the Virginia Holocaust Museum. His wife, who created Virginia’s state-run individual college-savings program and is now a partner at Alternative Investment Management, a New York money-management firm, chaired the Jewish federation’s investment committee in 2005. The Cantors’ address and home phone number are still listed in the annual directory published by Richmond’s Jewish community center. “To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think Congressman Cantor has ever tried to hide he’s a Jew,” said Marcus Weinstein, a local property mogul and generous Republican contributor after whom the city’s JCC is named. “It’s always in the papers. It’s never been an issue he’s tried to hide and he’s always been very much supported by the district.”


I want what I want when I want it: For his senior yearbook quote, Cantor chose a line from the libretto of a relatively obscure American operetta, Mlle. Modiste, written in 1905 by Henry Blossom. When I asked him about it, Cantor responded with a laugh. “I probably, at the time, I guess, it was a commentary on life in this country,” he told me. “I mean, you know, Americans are impatient, you know, they want to go after their dreams, and this is the place to do it.”

Cantor has been able to get what he wanted from his first day in Washington, when he pulled the top number in the freshman office lottery. In 2002, after Cantor won his second term, Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt, the minority whip, chose him to be chief deputy whip, the highest non-elected position in the House Republican leadership; from there, Cantor has steadily climbed the leadership ladder, rather than focusing on the intricate details that come with committee work. (He is a member of the House Ways and Means tax-setting committee.) Cantor surprised observers by declining to challenge Blunt outright after the Republican shellacking in 2006, but as Fred Barnes noted, “The honorable thing to do is not to run against the guy who picked you.”

Continue reading: good branding, Congress, and “the moral compass.” Or view as a single page.
In early 2009, a few days after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, Cantor, then minority whip, was invited to a bipartisan White House meeting. Cantor was the lowest-ranking person in the room, but he was also enjoying his first moment of national exposure as a fierce opponent of the bank bailout and the TARP plan. He brought handouts listing his policy objectives for the new Congress. After some back and forth, Obama reportedly cut him off, saying, “Eric, I won.” (Cantor repeated the story in his book last year.) At this year’s State of the Union address, things were less clear: As majority leader, Cantor, wearing a bipartisan fuschia tie, walked into the House just a half-step behind Obama and remained in the frame as the president made his way down the aisle, shaking hands as Obama let them go. Earlier in the day, the Beltway blogs had run snarky items about how Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker turned minority leader, had turned down Cantor’s late invitation to sit together—he wound up sitting with his fellow Virginian, Democrat Bobby Scott—that made him look like the sad-sack left out at the end of musical chairs. But in the end, Cantor was the only member who got what amounted to a personal appeal from the president: Midway through the speech, when Obama raised the issue of health-care legislation, he stopped, looked Cantor’s way, and quipped, “Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you still have concerns about our new health care law.” The pool camera stayed fixed on Cantor as the chamber erupted in laughter. Cantor cracked a satisfied smile: Yes, Mr. President—I won.

Early the next morning, when I arrived at Cantor’s plush office on the third floor of the Capitol, he was still full of buoyant energy. He came marching rapidly down the hallway fresh from a hit on CNBC’s Squawk Box, and as he approached, he asked, “Are you here to see me?” I said I was. He stuck out his hand and grabbed mine, without slowing down. “OK! See you in a second,” he said, and disappeared. An aide explained Cantor was taking his makeup off. A minute later, he reappeared, looking exactly the same. We went into his office and sat down on a pair of formal chairs, and his two press secretaries sat down on either side of him. I asked if he’d seen the footage of his entry the night before, and he coyly said he hadn’t yet, grinning broadly.

He knows that it’s good branding to be known as the only Jewish congressman in the new House majority—if nothing else, it gives him a monopoly of sorts. “It increased his influence a thousandfold,” said William Daroff, a lobbyist for the Jewish federation system. When he lends his name to events like a Capitol Hill screening of a new anti-Iran movie, Iranium, produced by the conservative Clarion Fund, “it just gives it much more of a hechsher,” Daroff said. But his efforts to combat earmarks and budget waste come before any ethnic solidarity: Jay Ipson, the head of the Virginia Holocaust Museum, told me Cantor had proven unwilling to secure federal grants for the organization he’d helped get up and running. “He was at one point thinking about getting us financial help from Washington, but then when the economy started looking not so good, he swore off any assistance for anybody,” explained Ipson, a Holocaust survivor from Lithuania who is known for wearing a cowboy hat everywhere, including synagogue.

I remembered Ipson’s comment a few days later in Cantor’s office, where a red-white-and-blue-bordered placard labeled the “Cantor Rule” is prominently displayed on an end table next to his sofa. These cards, printed on faux-aged paper with a faint watermark of “We the People” are scattered on desks throughout Cantor’s new quarters. They read: “Are my efforts addressing job creation and the economy? Are they reducing spending? Are they shrinking the size of the federal government while protecting and expanding liberty? If not, why am I doing it … Why are WE doing it?”

“You know, my faith goes with me in everything I do,” Cantor told me when I asked about his sole Jewish-Republican status. He talked about his upbringing in a traditional Jewish home and his efforts to raise his children with strong Jewish identities. “You know, again, I don’t think you ever go far from sort of the moral compass that you were given when you were brought up in faith,” he said. “So I can only say that I grew up in a very active and vibrant Jewish community, and then a larger civic community in Richmond that didn’t happen to be Jewish also contributed to who I am and what kind of officeholder I hopefully am.”

Many Jewish politicians, when they find themselves speaking to Jewish audiences, find it tempting to toss off one-liners like they’re in the Catskills or drop other sorts of yiddishkeit. But, as one Richmond observer pointed out, Cantor “doesn’t come across as ethnic.” Instead, he pitches his affiliation as a religious one, just like a Catholic might: His model is not Joe Lieberman, but his mentor Tom Bliley. “We live in a country that is built on the Judeo-Christian traditions, but most important we are people that believe in religious freedom,” Cantor told me. “And I lived that. I was honored to have served in the Virginia House of Delegates, and I looked every day at the plaque on the wall, the marble etching on the wall in the House of Delegates chamber in Mr. Jefferson’s capital, of his Statute of Religious Freedom, that obviously was then built into the Bill of Rights.” He paused. “You know, when you live in a community in which Jews are in the minority, you also begin to understand the beauty of our framers and the Constitution and the fact that there is no state religion, nor should the state preclude anyone from practicing his or her faith. It goes back to sort of the equality that we thrive on.”

Cantor’s main task, these days, is to set up the legislative calendar in a way that maximally weakens the Obama Administration and improves the chances of the next Republican presidential nominee. At the moment, that means pushing for cuts in federal spending—and trying to cancel Obama’s health-care reform legislation. But almost no one who talks about Cantor fails to mention him as a potential future Jewish presidential candidate. “Republicans don’t have a lot of Jewish elected officials, so it’s hard to get people at that level,” said Tevi Troy, a senior White House aide in the George W. Bush administration who is now a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute. “The conservative thing makes him kosher for the Republican Party, and the Jewish thing makes him kosher to a wider audience.”

Many of Cantor’s most ardent supporters aren’t Jewish. When John McCain called Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, in the summer of 2008 looking for advice on who to pick as a running mate—at a time when Joe Lieberman, who campaigned for McCain, was being mentioned as a contender—Land suggested the Arizona senator look at Cantor, who was already doing Jewish outreach for the campaign. (The other person Land recommended in that call was Sarah Palin.) “Cantor would have helped tremendously in states which would be a very close race, in Virginia, obviously, but in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and he’s the only Republican in Congress who’s Jewish and pro-life,” said Land. “He stood out as a comer from the very beginning—he’s very bright, very energetic, very concerned about the issues we care about.” When I spoke to Juanita Duggan, the former Philip Morris lobbyist, she echoed Land’s comments and told me a story about spiriting Cantor into a Tax Foundation dinner when he was still in freshman orientation, after the 2000 election. “He knew just what to do,” Duggan said proudly. She joked, “I am the honorary chair of the Eric Cantor for President 2012 committee.” When I asked her why, she said a Jewish nominee would cement the idea of the GOP as “the pro-Israel party”—just as it would also ease the path of a Southern conservative to the White House.

“Having the first Jewish president be a Republican,” she said brightly, “would be a wonderful thing.”

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N.zuckerman says:

Which goes to show that you can be Jewish and still be a putz.

Avi Crane says:

As a Republican Jew, Congressman Cantor represents my ideology more than any Democratic Jew ever did.

Gordon Schochet says:

To use my grandmother’s worldview — which I enthusiastically share — a Jewish Republican is a shande. Whatever happened to the world captured in Milton Himmelfarb’s pithy observation that we “live like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans”?

K Roseman says:

I am registered in Maryland as “Green.” I will not support anyone just because they are Jewish and will never vote Republican.

Notta Putz says:

As someone who was raised Christian, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Cantor. This is NOT a “Christian country.” This is the United States of America. Anyone in search of a “Christian country” should relocate to the Vatican.

M. Burgh says:

From Richmond perhaps this looks like a Christian nation, but from most of the world, the view is quite different. Cantor brings no credit to us. Give me Ruth Ginsberg.

Hersh Adlerstein says:

The highest ranking what? The highest ranking Jewish Republican from Virginia, maybe, but did you forget that New York had a Jewish governor, Herbert Lehman, over 70 years ago? Surely nobody but a Republican flack would consider a backwoods congressman has having a “higher ranked electoral position” than the governor of New York, or Illinois for that matter, and doubtfully a less important job than most of the dozen or more Jews serving in the US Senate today. A shmucvk is a shmuck even if he did have a briss.

Gordon Schochet: your grandmother’s Democratic Party no longer exists

N Zuckerman: you can still be a Jew and commit the sin of “lashon hara”. Name calling and ad hominem responses show a certain emptiness and anxious desperation on the part of the one doing the name calling. Instead of calling Mr. Cantor (and I presume other Republicans) names, why not just articulate WHY you disagree with their positions?

Marty Janner says:

I respect Eric, In no way agree with with his politics! Being a product of Brooklyn, and have experienced the Republicans who were fortunate enough to attain various political offices, they had one commonality which is not found in Eric”s MDA, they represented a liberal stance relative to the Little Guy!

There is no question in my mind that he is a major proponent for Israel. however someway he has forgotten, or perhaps never learned the values of the faith we so adore!

In terms of his voting in the Congress, it has been entirely along the lines of what his party represents, never once deviating, this, to me
is not representative of greatness, but rather indicative of weakness!

I would strongly suggest that the Forward, in the future exemplify individuals for all attributes they stand for, rather than the specious ones of the moment!

jerry s. says:

Eric Cantor – house jew. Perfect.

Steve Siporin says:

Wow. What a catalog of self-stereotypes. Who needs enemies when we’ve got ourselves?

Will Edwards says:

Hon. Eric Cantor is not a Jew representing his constituents or his people. He is another under the table lackey of the Insurance, Oil, and ETC lobbies. He talks in terms of emotional horror at the audacity of his opponents,though he talks as a wolf in the hen house. As an American he is as callous and traitorous as Cheney, the Bushes, Nixon, DeLay, and etc… its a really long list. While there are democrats and independents on this list (such as that famous collaborator Hon. Senator Lieberman), but it is overwhelmingly republican and not for any true conviction except personal greed. Therefore it is prudent to assess the republican philosophy is plunder and consume at the cost of everyone else. Hmmm use that template to look at history!

As a Jew I am expected to take the Torah viewpoint, which is in direct contradiction to the general philosophy and behavior of the republican party and its loud mouthed spokesmen.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of …everything for a profit!

Will Edwards says:

That, by the way, is what is meant by boiling a kid in his own milk.

Peter W. says:

I’m a Jew who will never vote for a political party, i.e., the Democrat Party, which believes the government should discriminate against my child just because she’s white.

Occam's Tool says:

As a Jew myself, I fail to see why Jews continue to support the party of Dennis Kucinich, Jesse Jackson, Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, John Conyers, Pete Stark, etc. Ron Paul is an anomaly in the Republican Party for his views on Israel—he’s in the mainstream of the Democrats.

Tell me ONE thing Barack Obama has done as President to make things safer for Jews in America and the world. The answer is: less than NOTHING. The bombs to Chicago synagogues attempt happened on HIS watch.

The lockstep support of the Democrats blows my mind. The Republicans have a far better record on Israel than the Democrats. Obama’s callous treatment of Israel is only the latest in a long list of examples. When will we wake up and realize that just because (the majority of) our grandparents voted for FDR, the Republicans now represent ideals like individual responsibility and respect for belief in G-d, that are much closer to Jewish values than the Democrats vision of the nanny state. A nanny state completely devoid of the Judeo-Christian values that this country was founded on. Wake up-more and more Jews are realizing this and are becoming Republican (I was a lifelong Democrat until about 15 years ago, and most of my family now votes Republican even though they cannot bring themselves to register with the GOP, old habits die hard). And Hersh, the highest ranking political elected to national office my friend. The “backwoods congressman” is the leader of the majority party in Congress. That makes him #2….not bad for a Jewish kid.

Interesting article but Cantor has yet to challenge the “real power” in the Republican Party. Do Jews, these days, read Feuchtwanger’s Jude Suess, translated as Power? “Jerry,” above, seems to have it right. A Court Jew, soon to face reality. That’s the Republican Party most of us have come to know.

An embarrassment, not just to Jews, but to politics, as well.

Without getting into any argument of which party best represents Jewish values, anyone looking at the actual data would see that the over-all trend is that Republicans have largely failed in their attempt to make inroads into the Jewish electorate:

In fact, Jews are more solidly Democratic for the last two decades than they have been since the 1964 election.

Brian Kaye says:

I’m not sure where Ms Hoffman hails from but her article is written with very little knowledge of Southern Jews and their relationships with their neighbors – the attitude that comes through is that of a Northern, or more likely New York, Jew, who finds it strange how Jews in the South relate to their Southern culture. I’m a Southern Jew, who has lived in New York City for almost 35 years and fail to see the need to exhalt in Mr Cantor’s position in the government simply because he is Jewish. In the South, the fact that Judah Benjamin was the Attorney General for the Confederacy, is a footnote to history. I find Mr Cantor’s political positions extremely distasteful and lacking in the compassion for our fellow citizens that is a fundamental of our religion. His right wing politics is of more concern to me than the fact that he is a practicsing Jew.

Popescu says:

Amazing how many of the people leaving comments just march in lockstep and hurl invective. One would think Cantor was a pedophile, a mass murderer, or a self-hating quisling from the way they refer to him. He’s only a Jew who happens to hold views different from theirs, and they can’t accept that. Whatever their affiliation, it’s seems obvious that they do not really believe in free speech and democracy, except of course for themselves.

A.Zelikovitch says:

Nice article- I respect Congressman Cantor very much…As for this comment:

Whatever happened to the world captured in Milton Himmelfarb’s pithy observation that we “live like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans”?

Well, in the half-century or so since those dusty words were muttered, Milton Himmelfarb has gone to olam haba, and the “progressive” left has dumped the Jews for an Arabian Nights noble savage fantasy.

How about this for an observation: being Jewish doesn’t mean living above the mason dixon line, whining about everything and always taking a “liberal” position, and then still expecting people to like you. I for one don’t, and I’m a proud Jew of the South. It was U.S. Grant who put us in prison – Robert E. Lee kept Shabbes.

Scott B in DC says:

Ok, @Popescu, here is a different perspective on what is wrong with Eric Cantor:

When the GOP was whipping up the Tea Party to do their bidding to in their opposition to the Health Care Reform bill, Cantor did not protest against the those who were using Nazi references out of context to attack the president and congressional Democrats for their stance. Rather than showing outrage at the insipid references or explaining how hateful and insulting these references are, Cantor issues a tepid response on his official House website without drawing any attention to it.

Here was an opportunity to practice inclusiveness and show these people who hurtful and hateful they are acting. When running for congress in 2000, Cantor was attacked for being Jewish. In the article, it said that when he was interviewed about the attacks, Cantor was quoted as saying, “That whole issue is just repugnant.” In this case, Cantor tacitly accepts the opposition to the Democrats even if it insults his heritage. In other words, Cantor sold his soul for political gain.

I am not a religious person and do not condemn anyone who is. However, I condemn anyone who shows this type of hypocrisy without comment. I condemn Eric Cantor for not standing up to the Tea Partiers who insisted on using Nazi references as an incendiary argument rather than engage in reasonable discussion.

Better him than some whiny liberal from the Upper West Side of NYC who wants to appease the Muslims. Jews from the South are a whole different story than elitists like Bloomberg.

Georg von Starkermann says:

Judah P Benjamin was a USSenator from Louisiana, then became Secretary of War, of the United Confederacy. David Yulee was a US Senator from Florida. Both men were Jewish and both were elected by the people. I believe that Senators hold a higher ranking than Congressmen?

Make no bones about anything…the USA is a Christian Country. It started off as such and continues to this day. If you don’t believe me, then why is Christmas Day a national holiday? In fact, why is New Years Day a national holiday as well. Aren’t we celebrating so many years from the time of Jesus Christ in celebrating New Years Day?

Dorothy Wachsstock says:

Reading all the horrible comments from Jews from the North tell me, as a conservative republican Jew, recently moved down from the suburbs of New York City, that we jews do not need any enemies. We have our own within our midst.

The so called “Liberal” Jews from wherever they come from, do not believe in tolerance. You must do as they say and believe in what they believe in or they tear you apart. No acceptance for their own kind unless you bow down to their beliefs. If you don’t, you can read what they say.

Farrakhan is a very smart person. He said to his following..join each party and then you have a block on both sides and you own Congress.

I do not think that Cong. Cantor had that in mind, but I would like to tell my fellow Jews, think twice before you eat your own. There aren’t many of us left but there are more and more Jews who are voting republican who do not watch your liberal newscasts and get propagandized.

Instead, we watch what New York Democrat Elected officials tell their constituents and then how they vote.

My father’s democrat party no longer exists. It went by the way of socialism. My husband and myself were discussing at lunch that maybe we should go back to Russia where the Soviet Union is supposedly no longer there. It certainly is coming here piece by piece.

Wait till you liberal Jews who put down one Jewish republican try to see a doctor if Obamacare is not put down. There will be no more for what you have now.

Insurance companys will go out of business..your temp at home will be shut off during the day..this is Jimmy Carter and his sweater time coming after the 2012 elecition if Obama wins..your freedom on the internet is now being overlooked to see if it is all right to be allowed. Ah!

Bet you didn’t know that the FCC is now in charge of the internet, did you? Soon, your electricity will be too expensive and you will go back to candles to save money. How many fires will that bring about.

Wait and see what is ahead of you.

Archie1954 says:

No one really cares except maybe Some Jewish people that Mr. Cantor could become the president, but many people care if he is also a Zionist.

I am registered in Arizona as “Indie.” I will not support anyone just because they are Jewish and will never vote Democrat.

Torah says: VOTE PRO-LIFE !!!

Thank you Eric Cantor for knowing that

Jay Levenberg says:

You can certainly respect Mr. Cantor without agreeing with his politics. I am amazed how far up in the Republican Party Mr. Cantor has gone and at least his presence tells Americans that not all Jews are liberals from New York. I certainly agree and respect his position on Israel. I wish I could say the same about the so called “progressive wing” of the Democratic Party. As long as Cantor is in a position of authority, he will be the voice for supporters of Israel in the Republican Party especially when some more of the radical tea-baggers start to form alliances with ultra-progressive Democrats to cut-off funding for all foreign aid. As I said, I don’t agree with much of his politics but I am nevertheless very happy he is in the position as Majority Leader.

‘Whatever happened to the world captured in Milton Himmelfarb’s pithy observation that we “live like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans”?’

It got mugged and raped by reality.

BH in Iowa says:

Rep Cantor represents me more a thousand miles away than the Leftist atheist moonbat from my district. He’s the future of the Republican Party and hopefully the future of American Jewish political identity.

Jews have been brought up in a tradition which strongly promotes empathy for others and helping those in need. Dems have taken advantage of this by making government the default medium for helping others. Jews have bought in. Now government is big and broke. As a Jewish Republican I disagree. I’m no less passionate about tikkun olam, I just believe it should be done at a community level – voluntarily – through shuls and private organzations. Helping the needy shouldn’t be a condition or pretext for increasing government power. Welfare didn’t make the US the strongest, most prosperous nation in the world – freedom, opportunity and innovation did.

On foreign affairs, the Dems are a trainwreck. The centrist wing believes in appeasing our enemies while the progressive wing promotes explicit support of our enemies. The current administration has stabbed our allies in the back, while their every “mistake” has consistantly been to the benefit of the most radical Islamist extremists involved. The party of RFK is now the party of Sirhan Sirhan.

It’s not just Christians who “cling to thier guns and religion.”

BH in Iowa says:

A. J. Weberman: “Better him than some whiny liberal from the Upper West Side of NYC who wants to appease the Muslims. Jews from the South are a whole different story than elitists like Bloomberg.”

The (non-Chicago) midwest as well. This Bible Belt Jew owns more guns than suits.

“Instead of calling Mr. Cantor (and I presume other Republicans) names, why not just articulate WHY you disagree with their positions?”

Because they are not charitable?

I agree with Will Edwards Feb 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Wow, these comments are a real lesson in “liberal” intolerance

Mel Harrison says:

Val,You got got it 110% right..Kantor is too cowardly to stand up to the anti semitic tea party

Vulcan Alex says:

From my location in the south being a republican conservative is being on the side of the little guy. Being a liberal democrat is wanting them to be like a slave to government (nanny state). We care so much for them that we want them to be successful and independent. Just my view from the very Christian south.

Cantor’s statement that this is a Christian country, despite his proclaimed reverence for Jefferson and religious freedom, show’s that his primary goal is self promotion. He is a political pander.

Georg von Starkermann says:

Times change and people change. At one time the Democratic Party was the party that lynched Negros in the American South. Today it is a Liberal Party protecting Black People and every other minority. When the Democratic Party was chiefly supported by the KU KLUX KLAN, how did the Jews of New York vote? Mostly for the Liberal Party and the Communist Party. Now the Republican Party and the Democratic Party switched sides and all of the Jews switched as well. They became Democrats in the likes of Harry Truman who for a time was a member of the KU KLUX KLAN, and let’s not forget every Jew’s hero, Harry Byrd of West Virginia. Byrd was the typical anti semite as he too was a member of the KU KLUX KLAN. As a German, I can assure you all that the Jews in America would have voted for Adolf Hitler had he ran on the Democratic Ticket, simply because he was on the ticket. After all the Jews voted for Obama, who we all know simply is an old fashioned anti semite (Against the Jews only). Reading the posts on this site filled with Liberal Jewish voters, when begins to realize just how prejudiced and closed minded the Jews really are, especially to their own people.

chumpsky says:

He looks good and he talks nice…I don’t know what all the kvetching is about, it worked to get our president into the White House.


Stanley Crouch says:

This article shows, once again, how far behind American reality and the nuances of its unpredictable complexity domestic fiction remains. Eric Cantor could not be convincingly imagined or the basis of a variation made by Philip Roth or, in film by Woody Allen. Were Saul Bellow still with us, I am almost sure that he would have been thinking about Cantor and what his very existence says about the mysteriousness of Jewish or human probability. As Ralph Ellison was given to observing, “Americans have a stubborn habit of surprising you if you pay close enough attention. I also agree with this because Marianne Williamson, who is now a homemade version of a faith healer, was a shock to west coast, midwestern, and eastern seaboard Jewish students when I was teaching in California because Marianne was from Texas, a southern belle to the gills, and was always glad to say, “I went to temple, too.” As always, American humanity is the true source of vanguard realization in all of our arts, which are too often dominated by well-meaning or simple-minded cliches.

Jeroen Reuven Bours says:

Rep. Eric Cantor probably represents half of my core values. Being Jewish and American and European does not put you in a box. This is further proof that this country should have more than just two (counting) parties; A truly right wing conservative, a middle-of-the-road and a truly left wing party. You know where most of us would find each other. (well-written Allison Hoffman!)

The article does not include information about the Richmond Jewish Community as being majority Republican. I am from the midwest and moved to Richmond, VA seven years ago. The biggest culture shock was meeting so many Jewish Republicans! I have to search for Jewish Democrats here. I’m wondering if any studies have been done of the current Jewish population of smaller communities and their politics. If it’s like Richmond then the Democrats like me are in the minority.

Benjamin says:

American Jews are left wing but the rest of the world Jews, Israelis first, French and Russian Jews next, are right wing and usually very right wing.
Liberal Jews are the anomaly, not the norm.

Gibson Block says:

Someone who is kosher doesn’t eat an egg salad sandwich from a regular restaurant.

When Joe Lieberman ran with Al Gore he was touted as being orthodox. Then I saw a picture of his wife jogging in gym shorts and a t-shirt and I knew it wasn’t true.

This is kosher and orthodox according to people who don’t know what it means.

“…..Feb 8, 2011 at 11:13 AM
To use my grandmother’s worldview — which I enthusiastically share — a Jewish Republican is a shande. Whatever happened to the world captured in Milton Himmelfarb’s pithy observation that we “live like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans”?….”

So Jews are not supposed to be individuals, but must all have the same ideology. I live in NYC and think Eric Cantor is great, and I know other Jews like me.

And you know, some Puerto Ricans don’t vote the way you think they should either. I met them while campaigning for McCain in 2008. Blacks too – there were over 30 black GOP candidates for office in 2010, although some lost their primaries, some were elected, mostly by whites who truly judge people by the content of their character – and their ideas – rather than the color of their skin. We’re all leaving the Democratic plantation – the world is a bigger place than you are comfortable with.

Yes, almost all the U.S. Presidents had provable Jewish ancestry. The reason why they concealed their Jewish ancestry is obvious, however one must understand the entire origins of the cabal that declared the independence of the U.S. and among whom many served as President. The founding fathers were not Christians, they were crypto-Jews who concealed their true religion by posing as Deists and organizing others under their yoke through the crypto-Jewish cabal known as the Freemasons. Freemasonry was invented by crypto-Jewish members of the Knights Templar who had fled France and other parts of Europe after being tipped off of the planned executions of the Knights Templar on Friday the 13th of October 1307 a day which has since resulted in the stigma of bad luck of on Friday the 13th of October. The crypto-Jewish Knights Templar fled with the treasures they had accumulated through their monopoly over European usury granted by special favors by the Pope through the threat of exposing secrets learned through the Knight’s Templar’s expeditions to the Holy Land during the Crusades that would delegitimize the power of the Pope.
“Rule by Secrecy” by Jim Marrs, and various other sources that I don’t recall at the moment

Cannot tolerate a politician who uses his Jewishness, (certainly not his faith!), to lobby for attention, and who cowtows to what he assumes is a “Christian country”, ignoring all the other minority faiths and religious practices. Try a review of the Bill of Rights to recognize what the US stands for, which you swore to uphold. Keeping Kosher does not make a person Jewish in faith and in conduct.

Nachum says:

I’d be interested in the level of Jewish education of all of those here saying that Cantor doesn’t represent “true Jewish values.” These people wouldn’t know “true Jewish values” if someone opened a Torah and read it to them.

Georg von Starkermann is funny. He says parties change and then clings to outdated stereotypes of Democrats and Republicans that probably were never true in the first place.

Gibson Block, Cantor doesn’t claim to be Orthodox.

Barry says:

Can’t wait for the American Muslim community to finally gets its way and violently impose the shari’ah. We’ll see how far all that liberalism and sympathy for the devil gets those liberal Jews who voted for Rev. Wright’s disciple.

How’s that alliance with the black community working out for ya, you stupid liberal Jews? LOL

Phyllis Miller says:

I hope not!!!!! Where is Cantor’s feeling about charity? and empathy?
His parents may be Kosher but he is not!

Nathan says:

Really? That’s really his own hair?

That’s right,Eric, keep bashing gay rights. It will help you among
the bigotted goyim who will say: “He’s not like a real Jew.” Shame
on you! P.S. Eric, should Jews be forbidden from marrying Christians?

Not Michael says:

Oswald Gasser said, “Some people don’t like him because he is a Jewish guy, but look, I’m thoroughbred German on both sides, and if anyone was going to dislike him for that, it would be me.”

What the hell does that mean? Is he saying that it’s normal of Germans to hate Jews? What kind of farkakte logic is that?

“But everyone deserves to be represented. He goes to the Jewish church. I don’t because I’m a Baptist. It’s all right.”

And it’s not called a “church” Mr. Gasser. Even German has a word for it: Synagoge.

Bill Pearlman says:

These responses are amazing. Eric Cantor is an observant Jew who has risen to a high level. But to people like Phyllis Miller he might has well be Satan. Why? I really am interested in the reasoning.

Bill Pearlman says:

And Gil, how come you can’t see where someone who actually attends synagogue might not think that gay marriage is the greatest development since polio vaccine. Does it rate insults.

Peter says:

Cantor irritates Obama and he talks slow. I like him a lot.

If attending synagogue means that you are justified in denying
equal rights to all Americans, then I’m going to stop going
to shul. Gil

    Gil.Cantor and conservatives don’t want certain groups to have extra rights. Judge a man or woman by the content of his or her character not by the color of his or her skin, or sexual identitiy, or nationality, etc.

matt says:

This man is on the verge of wrecking the US economy. Is that good for the Jews or for Israel? He is clueless. I especially like the Richmond enablers who support him merely because he is Jewish, regardless of what his policy positions are.

Thanks for a lovely write up.

Eric Cantor signed a pact with Grover Norquist, founder of the Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative non-profit that is against any kind of tax increase. The pact or pledge was signed by 230 House Congressmen and 40 Senators. Grover Norquist has had ties with Islamic Supremacist, jihadists and Islamic terrorists for years. He founded the Islamic Free Market Institute, founded also with funding from Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi and Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian who were later convicted on terroism charges. His wife is a Palestinian Muslim and has been accused of having connections with the Muslim Brotherhood. Norquist also supported building a mosque in New York City down the street from the twin towers destroyed by Islamic terrorists. Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform were mentioned in Senate testimony relating to the lobbying scandal for which Abramoff pled guilty in 2006. Norquest denied that he did anything wrong, records released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee allege that ATR served as a “conduit” for funds that flowed from Abarmoff’s clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns. Eric Cantor signed a pact to do the bidding of a known terrorist supporter and sympathizer. It is appalling and puzzling why a man would support someone who supports terrorists that have vowed to destroy Israel and America!

Bill Pearlman says:

Larry, I could ask you the swame exact things about Barack Hussein Obama. With way more justification.

I was raised in the same South as Rep. Cantor. I can tell you that where I lived, Jews were not respected nor welcome. (By the way, all those Jew haters in the South during the 1960s happened to be southern Democrats.) However, I do know who my friends are today and it is not the Democratic Party. What I also know is that the Democrats have vaulted to the Oval Office one of the worst antisemites in Presidential history. (Yes, Obama has Jews in office. But just because you sleep with a Jew does not mean you are not an antisemite.)

Unfortunately the Jews of the US have yet to recognize their real mistake. As indicated by even the tenure of this article, the only thing that liberal Jews worry about is abortion. What these diehard Jewish Democrats fail to understand is that if you have no economy, no military and have lost your right to exist(because whether Jewish-American like it or not, those that want to commit genocide against Israel are not fond of any Jews), abortion is the least of your problems.

Lastly, the United States is a Christian nation. It is predominantly, 95%, Christian, and the society is geared toward Christian values and holidays. While the Constitution does not allow for a state religion, that had more to do with the recent wars the founding father s faced between Protestant and Catholics in Europe and had nothing to do with Jews, Moslems and other other minority religions.Only the delusional think that they are living in a purely secular society. Try going shopping on Christmas, or Easter and then tell me how this is not a Christian Nation.

chgohunt says:

As someone who grew up in Virginia, as a Jew, at the same time as Cantor … I can only say “feh.” This is a man who despite being raised in a Jewish home, became a racist, bigoted, self-loathing representative of all that is most wrong with this country at this time. He learned nothing about what it means to truly be a Jew — instead, he spouts hate. A sad thing for the country, for his state, and for the his religion.

Bill Pearlman says:

How do you figure him has racist, bigoted, and self loathing. Please enlighten me.

He hangs around with and is best friends with racist,bigoted,self loathing,greedy,corrupt people that make up the Tea Party. The Republicans have aligned themselves with these “puritanical right-wing extremists” and now hold the American taxpayer and system hostage because they refuse to compromise on a debt ceiling proposal that cuts spending and raises revenue from those who can afford it the most. He has signed a pact with the devil named Grover Norquist who has aligned himself with Muslim radical terrorists who have vowed to destroy Israel and America. Eric Cantor has become his servant, and all Grover has to do is pull his strings and Cantor performs to whatever he says and wants Eric to do! He has turned his back on Jews and now serves the Tea Party Puritans who together with Norquist will throw him to the dogs once they finish with him.

Thanks for a lovely post.

I’ve said that least 2255563 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

Wow folks, I’m embarassed by the comments here. We ALL know better. Politics is just that, politics. It doesn’t define me as a human being. There is room enough for government to help and provide a safety net for all Americans, and there should be room too for free enterprise. All this negativity is childish and embarassing. I don’t llike Eric Cantor’s politics, but I don’t have to vote for him. He’s not “evil” for being Republican, nor am I for voting Democratic. The President is not anti-semitic either. We’re all just people with different ideas who disagree on things, on how to solve problems. It’s not either/or, black/white. It’s all grey and very human. Compromise and understanding is how you govern a nation of our size and diversity.

jewbilly says:

The comments here remind me of the old saying: “If you don’t have the law in your favor, attack the facts. If you don’t have the facts in your favor, attack the law. If you have neither facts or law in your favor, attack the character of the opposition.” Our (American Jews) capacity for in-fighting, xenophobia, and blind allegiance to liberal causes, even when they are personally harmful, is amazing.
Signed – A Jewish Libertarian from Montana

RobbieK says:

“I will never vote for a Republican”. Why not? I guess you’d rather give your money to the Government where they will continue to waste it. I personally will never understand how an American Jew could ever vote for a Democrat. Maybe it’s why so many are miserable and angry. American Jews are far removed from their Israeli counterparts in Israel, where 77% of the nation’s population are stanch nationalists and conservative patriots.

repubcooks says:

eric cantor is pushing a reduction of 50% in food stamps! he should be ashamed and will be ultimately be judged by adonai!

RM Platt says:

Eric Cantor’s Orthodox Jewish Faith

Ralph himmler says:

To all you brainwashed “Jews” that claim “all Jews are only allowed to be democrats”
I say when politics becomes a rubber-stamp and you don’t even hear out the other side, YOU BECOME A SLAVE!
I’m Jewish and I hate liberals and there are a growing number of us!

Moshie stauffenberg says:

The COMMUNISTIC streak in you “liberal” Jews is startling!
If a Jew dares to think independently from your group-think, they’re attacked viciously!
Eric cantor doesn’t deserve to be attacked for being a Jewish republican. Only morally bankrupt,BIGOTS, engage in that kind of behavior!
I’m ashamed of the “liberal” Jewish community and WILL NEVER SUPPORT THEM!
I’m a PRO-GUN, anti-abortion Jew, that views the democrats as the worst anti-Semites since hitler!
You have NO SUBSTANCE, so you use personal attacks against republican Jews,you’re a bunch of PATHETIC SLAVES.

Felix steiner says:

I hate LIBERAL Jews and there intolerant, closed minds.
You pushy,annoying,”progressives” have permanently alienated me!
You “Jews” don’t speak for ME, I read all the comments on here and it’s just typical of you obnoxious,leftists.
I fled NYC to get away from you animals!
30% of Jews voted REPUBLICAN in the 2012 election, JUST KEEP THAT IN MIND!

Jurgen stroop says:

Jews that are BRAINWASHED into sheeplike loyally to the democratic party, dispel the myth of high Jewish IQ.
Do you MORONS even care that
AL SHARPTON,JESSIE JACKSON and the “reverend” Jeremiah Wright are DEMOCRATS? Do you “Jews” care that the most vile anti-Semitic organizations, like occupy wall street are hardcore DEMOCRATS?
I think that democrat “Jews” are the SELLOUTS and I have illustrated to you WHY!

You said Cantor was “a fierce opponent of the bank bailout and the TARP plan”, but you forgot to mention that he voted for the very same “bank bailout and the TARP plan” that you claim he was against.

I was very involved in lobbying Cantor to vote against said bank bailouts and TARP. and he nor his staffers EVER said he was against it. He might have said he was against it in a sound bite (if at all), but it was never relayed to his constituents in person when they called him during the vote..

surfer_dad says:

So … after he lost 2 days ago I guess we need a hearty “never mind” and a trombone playing a mournful …


Alex Taylor says:

I am a liberal democrat and Episcopalian from Alabama born in New Hampshire. My two favorite and most admired people in the world are Pope Francis(or Francisco)and Eric Cantor. Eric Cantor because he’s reasonable on Immigration and He’s Jewish. I like all Jewish people and our Mexican neighbors.

Alex Taylor says:

I admire Eric Cantor because he’s soft on immigration and he’s Jewish. I like all Jewish people and our neighbor Mexicanos.

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The Gentleman From Virginia: The Rise and Fall of Eric Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history, hails not from the urban melting pot but from a Southern, explicitly Christian America