Is Eric Cantor Smart?

Ezra Klein asks I question I’ve wondered about myself—whence comes the notion that Eric Cantor is a super-smart policy wonk? Is it just that he wears glasses? That he’s Jewish? That his district is close to DC, so it’s relatively easy for him to do schmoozing with Beltway types?

Or has he actually achieved some noteworthy feats of policy wonkery? I’ve never seen ’em. Of course it’s easy to develop a low opinion of people whose political views you don’t admire, but I think we’d all have to concede that something like Paul Ryan’s “budget roadmap” is an intellectual ambitious document and not just a piece of political positioning. As best I can tell, though, Cantor hasn’t mastered any area of policy or really done anything at all to earn his reputation. I don’t just want to slam the guy, though, most members of congress don’t blaze exciting new trails of policy thinking. What’s weird about Cantor is the reputation, not the reality. But maybe one of my conservative friends wants to email me with some testimonials.