Tag Archives: Herman Cain

A Comment on Citizen Cain

The Black Walnut strikes again. Just two days ago, Herman Cain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and Republican presidential candidate, shocked the political world by coming in second in a Bloomberg/Washington Post poll. All the talk was about whether this was for real. Then today in a Wall Street Journal poll he’s leading the field. That’s right according to the Wall Street Journal, Herman Cain might just be the front-runner in the Republican race for president. It’s much to early to be sure, but this race is getting interesting. I have a lot more to say about Herman Cain and his stance on the issues, but as I was reading this article on the WSJ website I noticed there were three hundred or so comments. I decided to read a few. I came across the usual Obama-hating stuff like this by “Joseph Wootten”:

“Herman Cain is by far the most genuine person to be a serious presidential candidate since Reagan. The Bushes were Harvard / Yale elitists. Clinton was a “Rhodes Scholar” (ok maybe his mamma hooker had something to do with that). Obama is a full-fledged “Affirmative Action” case president (I would love to see his transcripts). And Romney is the perfect Hollywood “Country Club Republican”. It is truly refreshing to see an actual accomplished human being have a chance to become president. I am fully on board the Cain Mutiny!”

I love that he put Rhodes Scholar in quotes like it’s not a real thing. Anyway, one commenter called “John Mason” called Cain, “the right wing’s answer to the Rev. Al.” I thought that was pretty funny.

Normally I don’t read the comments on major publications because they tend to be absurd. There is a lot of people saying what they believe while giving no support for their arguments, and a lot of people just being childish. So you will understand my surprise when I came across this comment by “Li-Shi Chen”:

“Certainly Cain makes this GOP race interesting and he is throwing ideas, such as his 9-9-9 proposal out there for debate. This is a good thing.

However, most US voters and in particular more recently GOP voters seem all-to-often willing to anoint some superhuman and elect him (or her) to ride in like a knight in shining armor to solve all of the US’s problems. I am sorry, but the problems the US faces today are far beyond the scope of a one-man show to fix them all. It is not even an issue of leadership anymore as we have seen that the party opposite the president in power (in the Bush years, the Democrats and in the Obama years, the Republicans) will only do what is good for them and not put what is good for the country first. Perhaps that is why people suddenly like Cain, whose statements seem to suggest he is not going to compromise, with his background and attitude more in like with the tradition of a tough-talking CEO.

However, this tough-talking omnipotent CEO image is a dangerous one though for a democracy like the US. In a company, a CEO may talk tough, but his constituents are often either paying customers or shareholders who invest in the company for similar, often narrow reasons. A country and its citizens are anything but that and unlike a company, which can be bought out, the leader of a nation has to ensure that the nation lives on forever, long after they step down. CEOs today are definitely not such long-term thinkers, nor do they need to be. Presidents have to be such long-term thinkers, however, as well as also understanding that global politics is not necessarily addressed in terms of market share nor win-loss.

I am sure Cain will continue to say the right things on the economy and that is no unimportant thing as the economy is in a shambles. However, voters will also need to see a much more substantive debate on his views over issues such as North Korea, Israel, terrorism, the US’s dependency on foreign oil, Russia and a variety of military threats around the world, among other things. America really should not ignore those issues just to get a candidate it thinks it likes now to throw out of the of White House a candidate it thinks it no longer likes.

This is not to say Cain is the wrong man. However, presidential candidates as well as presidents need to be both flexible on the murky issues and steadfast on the clear ones. If Cain can be this, then good luck to him. Meanwhile, voters may want to keep in mind that the candidate they often admire before November as being steadfast and firm often translates into being hardheaded and stubborn after the following January.”

That was an unusually thought out comment. Chen (who I assume would just be considered a Communist by “Joseph Wootten”) makes some very good points.  The debate in this race has so far centered around the economy which is probably the issue that the candidates can influence the least. Foreign policy will be very important in the coming years. The Israel-Palestine problem has shown no inkling that it is going away. Republicans and the public as a whole need to think about that and not let the economy blind us into a bad decision.

Republican Playoff Update

With Congress out on the playground this month, there is little in the world of national politics to talk about it would seem. Or is there?  Republican’s seem to still be running for President so let’s take at look at the continuing Republican Presidential Playoffs.

Former Gov. Tim “I’m The Sensible Minnesotan” Pawlenty seems be dropping out due to injury. Sources say the injury is a bruised ego. His 3rd place finish in Ames just wasn’t enough to keep him going. It seems Ames was the straw poll that broke Pawlenty’s back. Herman “Three Page” Cain is sticking in the race but he isn’t generating the buzz he once did. Maybe the memory of former RNC Chair Micheal Steele is to recent for conservatives to put another African-American man out there. Or it could be that they figured out that Cain is just crazy. Let’s face it, you couldn’t put the legislative language to buy the paper for the legislation on three pages.  Rick “Water Is What It Is” Santorum is still hanging on despite lackluster fundraising. Perhaps he hoping being a native Pennsylvanian will help gain him the VP nod. That or he doesn’t realize that no one is going to vote for him. The race “is what it is, it can’t be something else” Rick. You aren’t going to win. Newt “I’m Still Running” Gingrich seems to still think this is 1995 and he is a national figure. After his top campaign staff quit, you would have thought he would too. Instead, Gringrich has continued to run and one of his issues has been “made in America” products. That issue took a detour when he held up a “Newt 2012” shirt that was made in El Salvador at a press conference. Despite a strong 2nd in the Ames poll Rep. Ron “Ignored-By-The-Media” Paul, still can’t seem to get any real press. The only news stories about Paul seem to be about how the news is ignoring him. There has to be some kind of irony ban for something like that. Jon “The Other Mormon” Huntsman is also still chugging along, but in the midst of conservative Anti-Obama fervor, the fact that he was Obama’s ambassador to China seems to be dragging him down.

The media has officially declared the top-tier in the race now. Let’s take a look. Texas Gov. Rick “Jesus Make it Rain” Perry has jumped in the race and is already being called a “top tier candidate.” Perry has some unusual hiccups in his game, however. He allowed the execution of a death row inmate after being shown compelling evidence that the man was innocent, his less than impressive college transcripts made the Huffington Post, and he issued a proclomation asking Texans to pray for rain to help against wildfires as he cut funding for firefighters. He does have a strong ability to tell people how everything is President Obama’s fault so he may be able to overcome his rivals. How he will do in the finals is up in the air.

Mitt “It Wasn’t Just Like Obamacare” Romney is the real used to be a moderate, Mormon former Governor. While Obamacare could prove to be a liability Romeny has shown remarkable fundraising capability. We’ll see if the other two point out that Romney has left his old positions to become more “conservative.” 2012 could prove to be a drastic repeat for Romney.

To round out the “top tier” is this year’s most exciting, unconventional, and probably insane candidate, Rep. Michele “Where’s The Camera” Bachmann. Bachmann has created unbelievable fervor among conservatives. Fresh off a win at the Ames Straw Poll, Bachmann is possibly crowding Sarah Palin out of the picture just because she has actually completed a term in an elected office. While she has at least 3 unforced errors this year. She praised our Founding Father’s “opposition” to slavery, using a 9-year old John Quincy Adams as an example. She talked about sharing a hometown with John Wayne when it was actually serial killer John Wayne Gacy who lived in Waterloo, Iowa. Finally she recently wished Elvis a “Happy Birthday” on the anniversiary of his death. Obviously, her research staff needs a shake-up. Bachmann might do alright with the Republican base but there is no doubt she needs a new coach to get her through this.

It seems no Republican is without their flaws. Some individual strengths have emerged. Which of these will lead to the nomination? Then the question will be; do the playoffs leave the eventual nominee with the stamina for the finals?

Why Do We Take These Polls?

President Obama’s going to lose. It’s all over. I read it right on ABC.com.  They reported that the President is losing to a generic Republican in a recent poll. Specifically, 44 percent said they would vote for the Republican, only 39 percent would vote for the President.

So what does this mean? Well, I suppose we should say, “nothing.” Let’s go over the reasons why this poll is basically useless. First, the election is 18 months away. If we went by a poll like this is 2007 , we’d be talking about President Giuliani today. Secondly, let’s think about the benefits of the generic Republican. He’s the perfect small-government, fiscal conservative. Yes, “he’s” a he, and he has no negative side effects. He didn’t pass a healthcare law similar to the President’s law, he doesn’t support the legalization of drugs,  his entire campaign staff hasn’t resigned, he doesn’t back off of his rhetoric when his opponents are in the room, he isn’t “the pizza guy,” and he isn’t Michele Bachmann. Remember, “he” is a he. Until either party nominates a woman, I won’t change my view on that.

The point is that a generic Republican isn’t representative of anyone who could possibly be the nominee. All the possible candidates have things that make them more or less appealing to conservatives and more or less appealing to moderates and independents. A “generic Republican” a year and a half from the election is useless.

I just don’t understand these polls. They don’t mean anything. A poll about who might be the Republican nominee is useful. We can have polls that track who is winning and losing that race. That’s news, but until we know who the nominee is it isn’t important how a “generic Republican” will do.  For now the President is likely to lag because he has a history and a personality. We know him.  We will see how this race really shapes up when the Republicans have a face, a history, and a personality to represent them. Until then, ABC should quit wasting our  time.

Who Will The Republican Party Pick?

As the race for the Republican nomination heats up, I see the field narrowing very quickly. Let’s start with who’s in and who’s not. Haley Barbour said he isn’t running. Rep. Mike Pence, whose named was tossed about, would rather be governor of Indiana. Personally, I think Pence is making the strategic calculation that Obama’s going to win and the election in 2016 will be much easier with some executive experience under his belt. From what I’ve heard and read, I don’t think Sarah Palin will really get in race. I don’t think Mike Huckabee will either. Donald Trump is obviously making waves, but even if he gets in the race he won’t last long. He’s just playing on the right’s dislike of the President. He hasn’t put forth any real ideas. Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman seems to be in the field, but I don’t see him winning. The “he worked for Obama” argument will kill his campaign. Rick Santorum isn’t an unlikely choice, but his appeal to social conservatives isn’t going to separate him from the pack. I think Santorum could prove to be a valuable running mate for some of the other candidates. While any of these folks might get in the race I don’t think they really have a chance.

This brings me to the four that I think are most interesting Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain. I don’t think Bachmann has a real shot at the nomination, but if she runs she could influence who does. She’s very popular with the Tea Party. Appealing to the Tea Party is going to be important to get both votes and money. I think you’re likely to see the support of American’s For Prosperity and similar groups going toward the most Tea Partyish candidates. This is why gaining her endorsement (and Sarah Palin’s) could be important. It might also make her a choice as a running mate, but she comes with baggage. Her Sarah Palinesque style and “slightly off-camera” speech delivery along with the fact that she was a Democrat who volunteered for Jimmy Carter, might make her not worth it.

Mitt Romney is often called the front-runner these days. Romney is charismatic and presidential looking. He’s a decent public speaker. He does have issues though. He is the former governor of not only a blue state, but perhaps the bluest of them all. Massachusetts has only fallen to Republicans four times since 1928. “Romneycare” will be a stumbling block. I believe 2012 will feel a lot like 2008 for Mitt Romney.

Tim Pawlenty is the quintessential Republican candidate. He’s a former Governor which is important. Only three sitting senators (Warren Harding, John Kennedy, and Barack Obama) have been elected president. James Garfield is the only member of the House to be elected president. The others were primarily governors. Americans seem to like the idea that governing a state is much like governing the country.  He’s a devout Christian, has a record of fiscal conservatism, and is one of the few Republicans that will appear on the Daily Show. The fact that he will go into an environment that obviously disagrees with him will help him gain some independents. If Republicans want to defeat President Obama, Pawlenty is their best chance. However, there is one candidate that brings something different to the table.

Herman Cain is an unusual candidate, and I think he may actually put up a fight. He has no political experience. That could work to his advantage as he faces an electorate largely disillusioned with politics. He is a successful businessman, and many people feel that an experienced CEO would make an experienced Executive. On top of that he’s an African-American who has a better chance of connecting to that community. The President enjoyed what would appear to many as an exotic childhood. He was raised in Hawaii and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. Herman Cain, however, is a black, Christian man from Georgia. He attended Morehouse College, and was the first person in his family to earn a degree. Herman Cain has more in common with many black people than the President. He provides the Republican party with an opportunity to show that they are diverse and represent the interests of all Americans. That paired with the fact that drawing the votes of disillusioned, working class African-Americans who are begging for a reason to believe in the American Dream could spell doom for Democrats.

It is very early to be speculating about the next election. Polls from this far out are almost always wrong, but Republicans are at a crossroads. They can choose to remain the establishment that they have been, or follow a new more conservative path. The best part of this choice is that it will lie with the people who support the party. Establishment Republicans could not be happier if the status quo is maintained. Their constituents may have a different opinion. Interestingly, I hope the status quo is maintained. If I have to choose between the Republican I know, and one who may be far more conservative, my choice is clear.