Thursday, August 18, 2011

GOP Candidate Breakdown #9: Herman Cain

I lived in Atlanta, Georgia for several years.  Some of my favorite times were in the year 2008.  I don't have a sports team that I follow, no real religion to speak of, so it was replaced by the 2008 campaign.  I watched CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News all the time, I was constantly reading the Drudge Report; it's safe to say that I knew everything that was going on in the campaign, I knew the journalists and the broadcasters who was with what campaign and the latest poll numbers.

In Atlanta, there's a talk radio station, WSB 750 that hosted people like Neal Boortz (who I don't mind as much as I used to), Clark Howard (there's nothing wrong with Clark Howard) and Sean Hannity (who I despise.)  Late in the evening, about 8pm, they'd play the Michael Savage show.  For those of you who don't know who Savage is, I would say that you lead normal and well-adjusted lives.  I know this because the moment that Savage enters your life, everything will fall into chaos and disarray.

I was leaving work late one night and turned on the radio.  I listened to WSB because I like listening to points of view and opinion that radically differ from my own.  But one evening instead of listening to the harsh and crass Brooklyn-accented voice of Savage, came a clear, concise Southern elegance, the kind that you'd expect a Baptist preacher from Georgia to execute without flaw.  It was Herman Cain.  He replaced Michael Savage because (according to talking with someone at WSB), they had to push Savage back to get the "nutjobs" to stop calling during the "regular" hours.

So my first full-on exposure to Herman Cain wasn't as quick as others.  He is known of course to be the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and for having turned the company around (with the exception of the one up the street from my house.)  He also ran in 2004 for the Georgia Senate Seat that was being vacated by Zell Miller and would be taken by Johnny Isakson (R).  But with this radio show, he was going to get a chance to speak to the Atlanta audience and who-knows-where-else and explain his message.

He's still in the race despite poll numbers and general lack of knowing what the hell he's doing.  So, let's get to it.

Age: 65.  He's in good health and shows his age a little, but there's polish in there.  Thats to say that Herman Cain looks wise not just... well, old.

Hometown:  He was born in Tennessee, but his home for the last several years has been Atlanta, GA.  He's usually described of as Georgian or from Georgia, which is well-enough.

It should be noted that he's the only candidate so far that doesn't have a political office under his belt.  Outside of radio broadcaster and CEO, his other credential is Chariman of the Federal Bank in Kansas City.  He's never been elected to office before, despite his campaigns.

Place in the Republican Party:  He's likable to the Tea Party movement and Fox News likes him as well, more because they like conservative minorities and not really because of who Herman Cain is or what he stands for.  Because he's never held an elected office before and hasn't won a campaign before, he's considered more of a fringe candidate than Ron Paul.

He's okay with fundraising, but will have a long way to go to match Perry, Bachmann or Romney.


Nationally, he's in the back of the pack.  If someone like Palin enters the race, like Ron Paul, Herman Cain should consider cutting his loses.  His voice would be lost in the media shitstorm that would ensue.

In a head-to-head match up with Obama, Cain loses by an average of 14 points.  That number is born out of two points:  Cain has a hard time getting his name and message out among the other candidates (a problem that Obama doesn't have) and while Obama is slipping in popularity, people prefer the Devil they know to the Devil they don't.  The other point is this:  what little information about Cain that has gotten out into the public knowledge has been his strong opposition against Muslims.  Not Muslim extremists, just Muslims.   More about that later on in this post.

Iowa:  He's towards the back in the poll averages, however, this is going to be worse once Perry is included in all the polling.  A black conservative businessman isn't going to have the same sort of appeal that a white Southern farmer is going to.  This blogger also wonders how Cain's religion and church (here's a link to the website of the church he's a minister that he attends) is going to play out should he advance in the nomination process.

New Hampshire: Again, not doing so hot in New Hampshire.  The more libertarian-minded populace of the state should prove to be something of an advantage to Cain, but it's harder for him to get his name out in the media (in a good way).

South Carolina:  He does better here.  However, Perry isn't put into the mix and, again, if Palin enters, a lot of attention will be taken from Cain.  As I've written before, SC does like it's crazy politicians and in the South, smart-mouthed politicians can get a little bit further.  If his campaign survives long enough, he could stand to do well here, but it's hard to imagine him getting by far enough.  At least at this point.

Florida:  More bad news. He gets shoved back, even with a hypothetical Palin campaign and there's no reason to think that he would do well in Florida.  If he can somehow position himself as a favorite in the Tea Party and still appear as a loyal Republican, he might do well.  But it's hard to tell and a little bit of a long shot.

Nevada:  Herman who?

As I wrote earlier, there are two main problems with Cain's campaign:  name recognition and bad name recognition.

Not a lot of people know who Herman Cain is and sometimes he just comes across as a bad imitation of Alan Keyes.  He's never held an elected position anywhere and, while he has a strength in a business background, there's a larger question as to whether or not that is necessary to get the country running in the right direction again.  He has to make both arguments at the same time;  that's double the work that he has to put into the campaign.

The other problem, and maybe the bigger problem, is that when Herman Cain does get on television, it's about some horrible and disgraceful thing that he has said about Muslims.  He's vocal that he wouldn't nominate a Muslim to his cabinet, he's said that Sharia law is trying to take over the country and that he's supportive of communities that want to ostracize Muslims and prevent the construct of mosques anywhere.  As these links demonstrate, it's not just that he's wrong, but that he's gone back and said that he didn't say these things.  Which makes him a liar and an opportunist.

While there is something refreshing about his bluntness and his frank speaking manner (something I always appreciate), it has to be made clear that someone that he is bigoted in private and lies about it in public.  Does he not remember that he says these things?  And if Muslims are a problem domestically, how would this play out in diplomatic relations in Pakistan and Indonesia and other predominately Muslim nations?

I don't think that Herman Cain is a bad person, but he should stop and ask himself why he's running for president.  It comes across to me as a vanity project.  It's why he took the radio gig, it's why he's a commentator on Fox News and Fox Business and why he says half the things that he does.  He's disingenuous, insincere and is a waste of everyone's time.


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