The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Herman Cain's defects

Yesterday's Washington Examiner contains an interesting column by Ken Klukowski entitled, “Four 'Cs' of why Cain is unelectable”:

Catchy alliterations — starting with the same letter or number — are popular in politics. Herman Cain's “9-9-9” is a perfect example. Republicans need to consider another alliteration involving Herman Cain, however. One that could give Barack Obama a second term.

Many men learn the four “Cs” when they buy a diamond ring to propose marriage: carat, color, cut, clarity. Another four “Cs” could mean a short marriage between Republicans and Cain: competency, consistency, character, crisis management.

First, competency. We already elected one president with a scant record of public service, allowing him to base his candidacy on rhetoric. Once elected, his rhetoric was miles removed from his policies.

Instead of a short record, Cain has no public record. Although he's a very successful businessman, you can expect Obama to point out that this nation has never elected a president without any record of serving as a government officer (since Army generals are officers of the United States, and we've only elected commanding generals who saved this nation in war).

Cain's unawareness that China has had nuclear weapons for decades makes easy attack ads. Millions of Americans who don't know much about foreign policy know China has nukes.

The fact that Cain didn't will worry “security moms” and veterans. While jobs are important, any president's highest responsibility is as commander in chief.

A Palestinian right of return would destroy Israel as a Jewish nation. Cain voiced support, then later reversed, explaining that he knew nothing about this basic Middle-East issue and instead supports Israel. In other words, he bluffed his way through the interview to hide his lack of knowledge.

This is also an example of the second “C,” consistency.

His 180-reversal on abortion raises eyebrows. Last month he said it was a woman's choice, which is what pro-choice politicians say. John Kerry said he was personally pro-life, but didn't think government should impose his view on others.

To undo this damage, Cain made passionate pro-life statements, with no exceptions for rape and incest. Expect those video clips in Obama attack ads next fall targeted at suburban and single women.

Cain's 9-9-9 plan was supposed to be simple. Now he says for some people it would be 9-0-9, that there will be economic development zones with different tax structures, and that all this is a transition to a 30 percent national sales tax.

Third, character. Even baseless sex-harassment allegations can sink candidates. Cain's accusers are now free to speak, but eschewing public attention for the moment.

Don't speculate on nameless, faceless allegations. Cain deserves the presumption of innocence. No facts have been publicly revealed to suggest otherwise.

But if these women support Obama, they could drop a bomb on Cain before the general election if he wins the nomination. Assuming the accusations are false, with enough money and press attention they could cost Cain millions of moderate votes by raising serious doubts about his character right before Election Day, capitalizing on the fact that Cain hasn't been vetted through years of public service.

Fourth, crisis management. Presidents are beset with crises, one after another. Effectively responding in a disciplined manner is critical to maintaining public confidence and marshaling support to respond.

Cain's unfocused and now flailing response to the sex-harassment scandal is painful to watch, especially since he knew this was coming. His whipsaw reversal on abortion confuses people. And his unawareness on basic issues like China and Israel could slow and muddle situations requiring quick and decisive action. He's failed the test of deftly handling bad news.

Cain might beat back all these issues in the primaries. But each of them costs him votes with swing voters, making him less electable. Is Cain becoming the candidate President Obama wants to face next year?

Many of Klukowski's comments are points I share. And I worry that too many people, because they have problems with Mitt Romney, may push the party into nominating Cain, which, for the reasons Klukowski gives, would be a disaster for the party. Let us remember that the goal is to defeat President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, not to nominate the purest conservative. And this is why we need to unite behind Romney

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