“It’s almost as if someone cannot have another opinion that is different from his. He becomes visibly agitated. . . . He does not like to be challenged on policy grounds.”
In a meeting with the Journal’s editorial board Wednesday, Mr. Cantor, 48, gives his side of one of his more infamous altercations with the president. In a mid-July Cabinet Room meeting, Mr. Cantor made a suggestion that Mr. Obama and other Democrats took as impertinent. “How dare I,” Mr. Cantor recalls of the liberal sentiment in the room. He was sitting between Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, “and they were in absolute agreement that [the president] was such a saint for having endured all this.”
“No president has sat here like I have, in these kinds of meetings, with congressional leaders, in this detail,” Mr. Obama said in Mr. Cantor’s recollection, which Democrats dispute. Mr. Cantor says the president also invoked Ronald Reagan “to be a little patronizing of us, because he assumed that anything Reagan did we like.” Mr. Obama then told Mr. Cantor, “Eric, don’t call my bluff,” and walked out.
The roots of the Obama-Cantor animosity date back at least to another memorable exchange in 2009, some three days after the inauguration. In a meeting with the president, Mr. Cantor—then the No. 2 Republican in the House—discussed the economic recovery plans that the post-2008 GOP remnant favored. “Elections have consequences,” the president responded, “and Eric, I won.” The White House promptly leaked the remark to the media.