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Meet the New Boss

The Cantor succession.

Jun 23, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 39 • By FRED BARNES
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The question is, how conservative is he? He’s not a Tea Party Republican, a libertarian, or a neocon. He’s been called “pragmatic,” but that word is so vague as to be meaningless. To me, he’s a conventional conservative like most Republicans, Ronald Reagan included. He rounded up votes to pass Paul Ryan’s budgets, voted against TARP, and won passage of free trade agreements. The Wall Street Journal, while urging Hensarling to run for majority leader, likened McCarthy to Boehner and said he’s “known more for his political than policy chops.” Nothing wrong with that.

In 2007, The Weekly Standard dubbed McCarthy, Cantor, and Ryan “Young Guns.” Ryan was the policy guy, Cantor was on the leadership track, and McCarthy was noted for his skill as a political strategist. They were complementary. Ryan and Cantor endorsed McCarthy for majority leader last week.

Being good at strategy doesn’t mean one is bereft of other skills, and McCarthy isn’t. But to be an effective GOP leader in Congress, a knack for strategy—how best to sell conservative policies, big ones and small ones—is necessary. In the past few years, we haven’t seen much of it. If all goes well, McCarthy can change that.

Fred Barnes is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard. His son works in Kevin McCarthy’s office.

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