Where’s Dave?

There is a bit of excitement in Cantor-land over David Brat’s no-show at two meetings in DC on Wednesday with Grover Norquist and Morton Blackwell.

Yes, it was a missed opportunity for Brat — and a big one, too. But the reason why Mr. Brat is perfectly understandable:

The official word from Werrell was that Brat, an economic professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, had academic obligations.

“He had school stuff to take care of,” Werrell said in an interview Wednesday night. “It’s the week before finals.”

In other words, life got in the way of campaigning. No big deal.

Still, that Brat said on Monday that he was “ready to make his pitch to the grassroots power brokers who have lifted conservative unknowns with their mailing lists and social-media reach,” and “excited to make the trip,” shows that someone has a scheduling problem.

That’s a rookie mistake. It could have been corrected by sending a proxy to the meetings. That didn’t happen, either. Another rookie mistake.

It’s one Cantor, the long-time pol, didn’t make:

Spotted in the room was Neil Bradley, Cantor’s deputy chief of staff, touching base with conservatives who are at times Cantor’s critics, and updating them about Cantor’s legislative agenda.

That’s how the game is played at this level. It may be desperately unfair, and even punitive, for private citizens who take the plunge and challenge a powerful member of the political class. Or for that matter, even a challenger to a back bench incumbent who couldn’t find his district without an aide to point him in the right direction.

We will never know what sort of backing Mr. Brat might have been able to get out of either meeting. But it is likely he left an impression on the DC types that he’s not ready for prime time as they know it.

Which, if your aim is to shake up the system a number of those folks have become part of, isn’t a bad thing at all.

Update

Just when I’m willing to give Mr. Brat the benefit of the doubt, more information dribbles out about this whole thing.

First, we have this interview with Brat, which, according to ABC News, was conducted Wednesday in Washington, DC.

Maybe something else came up that prevented him from going across town that day?

Well, there was this exchange on Twitter that might, possibly, have had something to do with the no-show:

kaus tweet

Whether any of this chatter had anything to do with Mr. Brat’s changed schedule is an open question. But that his campaign did not send a proxy to either meeting lends some weight to the idea that he buckled. Plus, he was already in town and didn’t show, so…yeah. There’s that, too.

Once upon a time, Barnie Day was talking shop to a few of us bloggers and recounted a saying by A.L. Philpott, the one-time, all-powerful Speaker of the House of Delegates, regarding interest groups. It went something like this: “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, take their money and then vote against them, you’ve got no business being here.”

It’s still true, and a lesson worth taking to heart.

I’ll be on air with WRVA’s Jimmy Barrett Friday morning at 7:05 to talk about the Cantor/Brat contest.