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Friday, October 07, 2011

Beldar on Cain's surging popularity

What follows is a republication here (slightly edited) of a comment I left on a post by my blogospheric friend Aaron Worthing at Patterico's Pontifications. Aaron's subject was Herman Cain's surge in the GOP presidential polling.


I like Mr. Cain, and I like him better the more I see of him. There is no doubt that he has a big future, if he wants one, in GOP electoral politics, even though he lost the only previous election he’s ever run (for a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia). He would certainly make a fine cabinet officer, and I can imagine many scenarios in which he would be an acceptable GOP vice presidential nominee (he’s said he’d be okay with that if the nominee were anyone but Perry, a hint Romney can hardly ignore).

I can entertain, patiently and with good cheer, arguments that for purposes of how Mr. Cain would govern as POTUS, the fact that he has no prior government experience in any capacity is a feature and not a bug. I have a hard time understanding why it’s a feature for him when inexperience has been such a spectacularly obvious bug with Barack Obama, but okay — let’s set aside for the nonce the question of how Mr. Cain would govern.

Focus on the necessary predicate question: Can Herman Cain get elected?

The answer to that is plainly “no,” and that is not something that I think can be plausibly argued otherwise. It would not just be risky, but inexcusably naive and reckless to run a political novice against Barack Obama’s $2B (direct expenditures; multiply that by five, perhaps, on indirect money) campaign juggernaut.

Oh, I know the meme of the moment is that Obama has lost his magic, yada yada. All I can say is at this same point in the cycle, Bush-41 was thought to not only be magical but invulnerable, and he ended up losing. Military commanders teach us not to plan based on our perception of the enemy’s likely intentions but based on the enemy’s likely capabilities. Obama’s demonstrated capabilities as a candidate include (a) soundly beating, in a siege-war Democratic primary, the same Clinton machine that had whipped Bush-41; and (b) even more soundly beating the McCain-Palin ticket, who top member was supposed to be the GOP alternative who was most attractive to centrists/independents.

I like the GOP’s chances to take the White House. I don’t like those chances so much that I’m willing to bet the ranch — to risk having to endure four more years of Obama — on a guy who’s never won an election anywhere for anything. Expecting someone with no political experience to beat Obama is expecting the kind of miracle that only happens in Hollywood scripts (e.g., Kevin Kline’s “Dave“). In the real world, the political novice just gets slaughtered.

Since Obama has nothing to run on but a bad record, his only path to re-election is to convince just enough voters that he’s the lesser of two evils. His entire extended campaign strategy — embracing not just the formal campaign structure but all the fellow travelers, Soros babies, the entire MSM, Hollywood, etc. — will depend on demonizing the GOP nominee, whoever that is. You think that’s already happening? No. Remember the level of frenzied demonization that attached to Sarah Palin within the first 90 seconds after McCain’s selection of her became public. We’re going to see that again, but for closer to a full year and at the additional volume that ten times the money will buy. Does anyone really think Herman Cain is the best choice to weather that firestorm?

Mr. Cain is due serious credit for his improvement in the polls. Nevertheless: no GOP candidate, no front-runner of the day or week or month, has yet moved out ahead of the pack in terms of deep, committed support. Gov. Romney started the campaign with the most loyal supporters, and he remains the candidate whose support is least likely to switch of everyone currently in the race. But that’s somewhere in the 15-20% range of likely GOP primary voters, enough to keep Romney in the top tier to the end but not enough to run away with it unless something important changes.

Which it probably will. I don’t know what. Could be Perry dramatically outperforming expectations at the next couple of debates. Could be someone else who’s previously ruled out running, reconsidering. (Draft Paul Ryan!)

But handicapping it just from today’s perspective, I’d say a potential Romney-Cain ticket has the best odds on the board.

Posted by Beldar at 07:26 PM in 2012 Election, Obama, Politics (2011) | Permalink


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(1) DRJ made the following comment | Oct 7, 2011 7:46:50 PM | Permalink

I still like Perry but I'm coming around to your thinking on Ryan. In fact, I told a family member just today that my first choice is a Perry-Ryan ticket.

(2) ColoComment made the following comment | Oct 7, 2011 10:15:18 PM | Permalink

I like Mr. Cain, but agree that he would not tempt enough voters on the right and center to overcome incumbency, esp. if Obama campaigned with your strategy of lesser evil. Indeed, there are a number of issues on which my preferences differ from Mr. Cain's, and a number of statements he's made that I think were not his best work.

Re: inexperience. Obama never made a payroll, never hired and fired staff, never made performance goals, never had to answer to shareholders, and even his political career primarily consisted of campaigning, not legislating or governing. Lots of "present" there.... I suspect as well that his education, law review, law school teaching, and his political aspirations were furthered in large part by explicit or implicit affirmative action proponents.

However, Mr. Cain has, I submit, proven business and management successes at least equivalent to that of a state governor, and in this economic climate, possibly even more desirable. It's true that Romney has business experience, but on a more academic, less immersive level. What I mean is that there's a difference between a hedge fund partner and a guy who knows from how to push a broom and staff a pizza prep line up to how to manage a national company. Not to mention his Fed experience, etc. Cain has succeeded in a variety of environments -- you don't achieve that by being politically inept. The man is perhaps the smartest of the candidates, while preserving a charismatic personality. Perhaps the country is ready for a leader who will speak plainly & factually, confront the unmentionable issues of today, and who has a core of definable and moral principles that inform his decisions.

OTOH, maybe the country isn't ready for truth and principle.

In which case, they can stick with Obama.

(3) Michael made the following comment | Oct 13, 2011 12:37:25 AM | Permalink

I'd have to agree with Colo above though I appreciate your ability to back up on Rick. Maybe he hasn't made you proud of Texas though; he has me. I think you could take the Obama argument and apply it here as well. Obama beat Clinton; so.. And that was his first real race IMHO. So if Cain comes out of nowhere etc... I do think it is mildly amusing that he's got 11 dates open and a book tour this October. You know when you expect one job to be part time and you've got something complementary. Hey, the guy is industrious. That makes me think he can get beyond the 9-9-9 plan when he has a chance to think how he will climb down though the consumption tax aspect being neglected is part of its interest. Anyway, in many ways he is such a naif Archie Bunker I think if he were as president to land the Air Force in Mongolia the Chinese instead of bombing our bases in Japan, the inclination with any other U.S. president, would say 'That stupid --, get him on the phone and tell him to go to Montana.' So apparent stupidity might be to our advantage.

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