Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough wouldn’t let House Minority Whip Eric Cantor get away with defending Joe Barton today.
After asking Cantor why Barton (R-TX) was allowed to keep his job as Chair of the House Energy Committee after apologizing to BP, Scarborough argued that allowing Barton to keep his post “hurts the Republican Party” because it shows a “troubling mindset.”Here’s what happened:
Scarborough began by asking Cantor (R-VA): “Why is Joe Barton being allowed to keep his job when Joe Barton apologized to a corporation that is destroying my hometown’s economy, destroying the environment across the Gulf Coast?”
Cantor tried to argue back that “Joe Barton’s not the issue,” but Scarborough cut him off: “He kind of is. If he’s the most powerful Republican right now on the Hill when it comes to energy, he is the issue, isn’t he?”
Cantor replied that “some people want to make Joe Barton the issue,” but he “was wrong” and now they need to focus on the real problems in the Gulf.
Scarborough shot back: “I know you have to defend Joe,” but “this hurts the Republican Party, this hurts the Republican brand.” He added: “I know you agree with me you just can’t say it.”
Cantor tried to deflect: “If the standard for resignation is a YouTube moment or an inappropriate statement, wouldn’t you think the Vice President would be handing in his papers twice a week?”
But Scarborough shot him down, pointing our that Barton’s comment was from “a written statement” that he delivered during the hearing.
DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan sent out the following statement in response to Cantor’s argument that Barton is “not the issue”:
We don’t say this often but, Eric Cantor’s right – Joe Barton’s not the issue. The issue is a broader Republican culture of not just apologizing to the oil industry, but defending them and their other corporate benefactors at every turn and at the expense of middle class families and small businesses. They proved that in their opposition to the President holding BP to account and in their opposition to the President’s call for a new energy policy that ensures we are never again in a position where we are solely reliant on oil and oil companies. And just as Republicans showed their allegiance in taking the side of oil companies in the wake of the BP disaster, they proved it taking the side of the insurance companies in the health reform debate and big Wall St banks in the financial reform debate.
So, Eric Cantor is right – Joe Barton’s not the illness, he’s a symptom.
h/t Greg Sargent.