Herman Cain — Mysterious Wizard from the Land of Capitali$m
- Political Authenticity
- Political Literacy
- Political Competence
For several weeks now (shortly after his Florida win and once it was clear that the Barbarian Warlord’s political competence was in doubt) I’ve been “on the Cain train,” meaning that a Hermain Cain candidacy seemed most desirable via my own alchemical calculations of the Buckley Rule. The 9-9-9 plan (endorsed by Arthur Laffer, Dick Morris, and Paul Ryan) was straightforward enough and seemed like something that my Obama-leaning friends would have a hard time refuting when I laid it out to them. “Yes goods will be cheaper! Did you know that a loaf of bread costs more because of all the taxes? You realize that taxing ‘evil corporations’ means they just have to raise prices on consumers to stay alive, right?” The idea of a non-politician emerging to redefine the Presidency back to how it was originally intended was very attractive.
I liked that Cain had been married for 43 years. His feelings “partially driven by how passionately [he] felt about this country,” had never provoked him to destroy a marriage. What a man does when he thinks no one is looking says everything about his character and his competence as a human being. If a man cannot handle his responsibilities as a husband then he has no business taking the most stressful occupation on the planet. Cain’s seemingly bulletproof character, Christian ethics, and sunny disposition have been at the core of his brand, fueling the effectiveness of his Political Authenticity and Political Competence spells.
But after last week’s inept handling of the sexual harassment pile-on I find myself drifting back into the “lean Cain” category and provoked to reexamine the positives of Romney and Perry if the Wizard of Godfather’s Pizza cannot recover. I don’t think that Cain did anything objectionable to any of these women. The cash pay outs are way too low. But where there’s smoke there’s often fire. And because of the Cain campaign’s poor handling of this — a really out of character attempt to blame Rick Perry without adequate evidence? — doubts have been planted in my mind and certainly some voters as well whether or not it’s reflected in his poll numbers yet.
This question of whether or not Cain messed around in any way with his subordinates needs to be more thoroughly settled. It probably will be one way or the other within the next few weeks — because too much is at stake to risk going with a Republican Bill Clinton who could have a “bimbo eruption” at any moment during the general election. I don’t have any worries that Mitt Romney the Good Mormon would make any “indiscretions” during the campaign…
Even before Cain’s lack of preparation to address an obvious issue in his background, we were seeing his failures to cast the Political Literacy spell. His answers to questions about the Israeli government’s prisoner exchange and his pro-life convictions demonstrated that Cain’s attempts at politeness and decency were impairing his ability to use the media effectively. (The root cause of both missteps was Cain’s attempt not to disrespect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or the women out there who had made the decision to have abortions.)
Initially I surmised that Cain’s shortcoming here (as well has his limited foreign policy knowledge) were the most correctable of the three frontrunners’ shortcomings. Political Literacy should not be an issue — it does not take long to familiarize oneself with the “rules” of politics and to hire professionals who can keep a campaign on message. This is a more open question now, though.
And when the questions are open I turn to PJM’s commenting community: what will it take for one of these candidates to finally get their act together and seal the deal? What would each of them need to do to prove to you that they are the most skilled political warrior who will emerge at the end of the campaign with our country retaken?
Update: Just a heads up that an analysis of the second tier candidates and vanity candidates is coming soon…