No matter what you think of him, you have to give Herman Cain credit for maintaining a presence in the current conversation. I’ve been posting several news stories and getting into a few discussions about him on Facebook. Why, Beth (you might ask)? Do you really think he has a chance of getting the Republican nomination?
Not really...but after the popularity of Sarah Palin, I don’t take the gullibility of the American people for granted. Anything can happen in this strange state of the union in which we find ourselves.
A couple of my more conservative friends (yes, I really do have some, believe it or not) wrote that they like Cain. When pressed to explain why, they didn’t have much to say about that...just that they “like” him. When asked about whether they support Cain’s stance on abortion and gay rights, they seemed to be against Cain on those “issues.” But they never did articulate WHY they like him. One said that Cain would “mop the floor” with President Obama in a debate. (Whatever you’re smokin’, honey, feel free to send some of it my way!)
I was having an email discussion with Cousin Greg today (after wishing him a happy birthday!) and wrote something about the “inexplicable” popularity of Cain. I thought Greg had a pretty good take on it:
I think his popularity is easily explainable....People who like him or Ron Paul have the same mindset as many of those who voted for Obama in 2008. They believe that the key to turning the nation around is a strong, somewhat outsider personality rather than adherence to a handful of distinct policies.
That's why your friends can't talk in depth about the merits of his policies...Because they've attached themselves to Cain's problem solving methodology and personality rather than a specific policy or two.
I wrote that I mostly agree with what he was saying, but that while some people may have voted for Obama because of his charismatic personality, I cast my vote for him because I had read his books and liked his vision for our country, and because he had a lengthy and detailed plan of what he was going to do if he became President (I still have my copy of it). I do not see that with Cain, not one bit.
When he did put forth a policy, his 9-9-9 tax policy, it was roundly condemned by numerous, non-partisan analysts as being horribly regressive, placing increasing burden on the lowest income earners and giving the highest earners a huge tax break. When this was pointed out to him, his answer was, “Those analysts are wrong.” This week, he altered his policy to make one of the nines a zero for lower income people. I have to wonder why he didn’t think that out thoroughly before he took it public. One might think that he was just trying to come up with a catchy policy phrase instead of something that would really work.
He really wants to go head-to-head with President Obama on foreign policy? Cain constantly ducks questions about such issues by saying that he’s not privy to classified information, so he can’t offer his thoughts on it. Bish, if someone like me can read about these things and offer at least a casual opinion, so can you! You’re running for President! You need to know about these things! I would also recommend that you don’t ridicule the names of other countries because you think they sound funny. It’s Uzbekistan, not “Uz-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan.” When you’ve got the president of Afghanistan noticing and laughing about your comments, you can bet that he wasn’t really laughing. He was ridiculing your lack of knowledge about other countries, and dismissing you as a serious contender and as a world leader.
Then there are the bizarre ads his campaign put out this week. The strange “He Carried Yellow Flowers” ad, in which some actor I had to look up on IMDb says to a couple of whiskey-swilling, tobacky-chewing ne’er-do-wells who dare to question his yellow flowers, “Why has it always gotta be about color? What are you guys, liberals?” and then punches them both in the face. Then there is the über-strange “Now is the Time for Action” ad, in which his campaign manager, Mark Block, talks about how America has never seen a candidate like Herman Cain (all the while shaking his head...what?), and then takes a drag off a cigarette and blows the smoke towards the camera. What. The. Hell? It’s almost surreal in its bizarreness. (But apparently Herman is just giving a shout-out to his former buddies. As a lobbyist with a restaurant association, Cain worked hard to help Big Tobacco in their lobbying efforts, including fighting against smoking bans in restaurants.) Everyone from David Letterman to Stephen Colbert to Jon Huntsman’s three oldest daughters have made parody ads. (My personal favorite was the Colbert ad featuring a huffer, followed by his Slow Smile Contest challenge to Cain.)
As I clarified with Greg, Cain’s popularity is inexplicable to ME. If you spend any amount of time looking at this guy, his policies, his outlook (Don’t have a job? Blame yourself! Want to cross the border illegally? Fry on our electric fence!), and his lack of knowledge, I don’t know how anyone can support him for the highest office in the land. We are just starting to get our respect in the world back; do you really want our leader to be known as That Pizza Guy who can’t make heads nor tails of all the Stan countries? If he showed at least a glimmer of knowledge about such matters, I wouldn’t be as dismissive, but COME ON.
I don’t doubt that the Cain bubble will burst soon, just like the Bachmann and Perry bubbles burst. He just can’t sustain this kind of bizarre behavior and continue to get a pass. But sometimes I can be a little too optimistic about the ability of the American people to see what seems perfectly obvious, so I’ll keep posting things about Cain until he tanks just like the others. If by some strange chance he doesn’t tank and actually wins the nomination, there will be plenty of fodder for his run against President Obama.
Who’s next? Santorum? That should be fun, too!