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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Most people don’t think about their high school yearbook quote much after age 18. But Eric Cantor, the U.S. House majority leader, chose a quote 30 years ago that seems particularly prescient given the ongoing debt-ceiling debate: “I want what I want when I want it.” The lyrics from a Henry Blossom operetta appropriately describe Cantor’s drive – his ambition is so great that some have wondered whether he has his eye on John Boehner’s job. Cantor’s advisers insist he’s not aiming for the speaker position, despite the fact that he dramatically walked out of debt-reduction talks last week and thereby stalled negotiations. As the nation faces financial chaos and possible default, perhaps someone should tell Cantor some different lyrics: “You can’t always get what you want.”

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and former President Donald Trump.

Photo by Kevin McCarthy (Public domain)

In the professional stratum of politics, few verities are treated with more reverence than the outcome of next year's midterm, when the Republican Party is deemed certain to recapture majorities in the House and Senate. With weary wisdom, any pol or pundit will cite the long string of elections that buttress this prediction.

Political history also tells us that many factors can influence an electoral result, including a national crisis or a change in economic conditions — in other words, things can change and even midterm elections are not entirely foretold. There have been a few exceptions to this rule, too.

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