The Inadequate Political Magick of Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney

The science and art of causing change in conformity with will.
— British occultist Aleister Crowley’s definition of magick

We sit here today with a high unemployment rate (and in our bones we know it even higher than the figures suggest) and the national disappointment, President Barack Obama, for one key reason: the magickal incompetence of the Republican Party during the 2008 election. Say what one will about the President’s shortcomings, as a campaigner and a political magician he is first in his class — and without the aid of affirmative action. Doubt me? Name a more talented political liar. Who else could spend an entire career arms locked with vulgar radicals like Jeremiah Wright and Billy Ayers yet somehow mesmerize the country into believing he was Grown Up Centrist Liberalism Incarnate?

Obama won in 2008 not just because of the fortunes of history — first black nominee, two orphan candidates, Bush fatigue, the economic crisis — but because he waged the more effective campaign. McCain/Palin did not know what hit them.

How he’ll top the potency of these — two of modern presidential history’s most effective magickal sigils — is anyone’s guess.

The magickal energy of these images still reverberates doesn’t it? Stare into them and you can still feel the illusion he wanted you to feel — just as when you always ask a Democrat about their political positions they’ll tell you how they’re driven by how they “feel” like one public policy is better than another.

And so it is that reluctant bedfellows of Republicans and Tea Partiers unite with a shared sense of clarity about the importance of a candidate’s skills in the art of political warfare.

My position is comparable to many: Obama’s defeat in office is the primary priority. Among the three front-runners of Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney I have my shifting preferences but would be more than comfortable with any as nominee and President. So the question that remains is which will have the best shot in a head to head match up with the Alinskyite Cult’s Goblin King.

The answer is whoever wins the primary.

Voters have not yet fully cemented their support behind a candidate because a combination of three magickal spells has yet to be cast effectively by any of the front runners:

  • Political Authenticity
  • Political Literacy
  • Political Competence

Authenticity — The candidate’s political efforts flow from a profound sincerity. The candidate believes in what he says and is not just “playing politics” or “just saying something to get elected.” His actions are the extension of a serious grounding in conservative political philosophy. We can trust the politician to try and do what he says. Above all he is authentically American in his values and in his understanding of the role of the federal government and his limited responsibilities as head of the Executive branch.

Literacy — The candidate knows the strange rituals and baroque customs of post-World War II American political culture. He can navigate the treacherous terrain and gaseous fever swamps of our corrupt mainstream media. He will not make easy media mistakes and lousy, embarrassing gaffes. He knows how to play defense.

Competence — The candidate can effectively unleash political magick spells to disrupt his enemies’ efforts, inspire his supporters, and ultimately capture victory. He knows how to play offense.

Each of the candidates is still trying to cast all three of these spells. On the next three pages we’ll consider each one’s Achilles’ Heel.

First: It’s just a flesh wound…

Mitt Romney, Shining Knight of the East Coast GOP Establishment

  • Political Authenticity
  • Political Literacy
  • Political Competence

Mitt Romney is the sophisticated patrician of the race — our Knight groomed from boyhood to know how to wear his polished, expensive armor. With his usually calm and collected manner he’s had the mores and rules of the last 40 years of our political culture fused into this essence. No one doubts his Political Literacy.

Romney’s lifetime of navigating through the elite corridors of power have taught him caution. To succeed at Harvard Business and Harvard Law, to live up to his father’s hopes and expectations, to profit within the corporate world — all require a careful, political temperament that knows when to shift and how to hedge bets. One does not rise up in these channels by challenging corruption, bucking convention, or reevaluating a broken system’s root flaws.

And so we now see that these two apparent blessings — knowledge of the political game and the discipline to play it properly — manifest as a curse when it comes to the third spell of Political Authenticity. One cannot have the record of a Massachusetts Rockefeller Republican and any hope of dominating a national political primary in which the Tea Party sets the agenda.

It’s too bad for Romney that he’s running in 2012 instead of a repeat of 2008. The political culture has shifted too deeply against him and all that he symbolizes. While his Political Literacy and Political Competence may be enough to secure him the nomination, however if that happens it will be because of the failures of Romney’s opponents.

Yet in spite of all the very reasonable objections that the anti-Romney, Tea Party brigade lay out, the reality is that he’d probably be able to defeat Obama and certainly be an extraordinarily competent president. Will he rule as a so-called “RINO” as Tea Partiers eager to shrink government fear? It’s certainly possible, but more likely in my view is that finally Romney’s finger-in-the-wind, pragmatic approach to politics may lead him in a direction most Tea Partiers would approve.

Tea Party conservatives should not forget that the wind is now blowing in our direction. As the national debt grows higher and economic chaos continues with Europe’s PIGS crisis more and more Americans will continue to naturally be driven toward Tea Party politics.

Next: That the Conan the Barbarian remake flopped at the box office is not a good omen.

Rick Perry, Barbarian Warlord of the Booming Texas Desert

  • Political Authenticity
  • Political Literacy
  • Political Competence

Rick Perry’s Political Authenticity is not in doubt. When he says,

I’ll work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.

Then I believe him. His credibility as the inspirational Texas leader — whose policies protected his state while the global economy collapsed under socialism’s weight — is still just as golden as when he inspired so many when he first emerged in the race.

His Political Literacy is also on full display. Perry is not the longest-serving governor of Texas because he got lucky. The man’s a skilled politician who can connect with voters and hit the right political notes.

But being able to charm the voter and project a genuine spirit when communicating on his own terms is not enough to win a political war. It’s one thing to have the strength to deliver a devastating blow. It’s another to have the intelligence to land it.

What earns Perry his Barbarian archetype is the sloppiness and incompetence of his political attacks. Just take a look at this pathetic display. This “you hired illegals!” is a clumsy cudgel that splinters in Perry’s hand:

We are supposed to believe that this man will triumph in the upcoming political war with Team Soros-Obama-Podesta-Van Jones-Huffington-Brock? This is what they’re doing over at Media Matters and the Center for American Progress as they see Perry’s punchdrunk bumbling:

Perry might make for a fine President and he may be a decent man, but can his campaign overcome skilled challengers?

I’m not opposed to this style of campaign. If Perry is rough and sloppy and undisciplined then those might be acceptable trade-offs if he is sufficiently aggressive and willing to hit hard. In a battle with Obama it’s alright for Perry to miss a few hits as long as he’s throwing enough out there. With a Perry candidacy we don’t have to worry about having a wimp, unwilling to engage in brutal political combat. That remains a potential liability with Romney.

Finally: The big question mark: the effectiveness of Free Market magick channeled into the Permanent Political War.

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…


Knight and Barbarian Illustrations: Algol / Shutterstock

See my previous columns on politics and counterculture:

Our Deceitful Marxist President’s Cruel War on Sick Medicinal Marijuana Patients

 When Boomer Culture Finishes Its Suicide, What Will Rise Next?


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