“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, September 30, 2011

Okay. Enough Already. I'm Endorsing Herman Cain

Daniel Henninger wrote this thought-provoking piece in his Wonderland column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. I've reposted it in its entirety, except for videos and images.

You hear the same thing said about Herman Cain all the time: Herman Cain has some really interesting ideas, but . . .

I love Herman Cain, but . . .

But what?

But he can't win.

Why not?

At best, the answer has to do with that cloudy word "electability." Or that Mr. Cain has never held elected political office.

In 2004, Mr. Cain ran for the GOP's U.S. Senate nomination in Georgia. He lost to Johnny Isakson. Last weekend, Mr. Cain ran away with the Florida straw poll vote, winning with 37%. He torched both the "Southern" candidate, Rick Perry of Texas, who worked hard to win the vote, and Mitt Romney, who in 2008 campaigned everywhere in Florida.

The time is overdue to plumb the mystery of Herman Cain's "interesting, but" candidacy. Let's start at the top—in the top-tier candidacy of Mitt Romney.

Though he's got the governorship credential, Mr. Romney's emphasis in this campaign is on his private-sector experience. It's good, despite the knock on Bain Capital's business model. But measured by résumés, Herman Cain's looks deeper in terms of working on the private sector's front lines.

The details of his career path are worth knowing.

In the late 1970s, Mr. Cain was recruited from Coca-Cola in Atlanta, his first job in business, to work for Pillsbury in Minneapolis. His rise was rapid and well-regarded. He joined the company's restaurant and foods group in 1978 as director of business analysis. In the early 1980s, Pillsbury sent him to learn the hamburger business at a Burger King in Hopkins, Minn. Then they assigned him, at age 36, to revive Pillsbury's stumbling, franchise Burger King business in the Philadelphia region. He succeeded. According to a 1987 account in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pillsbury's then-president Win Wallin said: "He was an excellent bet. Herman always seemed to have his act together."

In 1986, Pillsbury sent the 41-year-old Mr. Cain to turn around their Godfather's Pizza business, headquartered in Omaha. The Herman Cain who arrived there April 1 sounded like the same man who roused voters last Sunday in Florida: "I'm Herman Cain and this ain't no April Fool's joke. We are not dead. Our objective is to prove to Pillsbury and everyone else that we will survive."

Pillsbury sold Godfather's to Mr. Cain and some of his managers in 1988. He ran it until 1996 and served as CEO of the National Restaurant Association from 1996-1999. This June, Mr. Cain visited with the Journal's editors and put the issue of health-insurance availability inside the context of the restaurant industry. He said the restaurant association tried hard to devise a health-insurance program able to serve the needs of an industry whose work force is complex—executives and managers, full-time workers, part-timers, students and so forth. Any conceivable insurance system would require great flexibility in plan-choice and design.

It's from this period that one finds the famous 1994 video, now on YouTube, of Herman Cain on a TV screen from Omaha debating Bill Clinton about his national health legislation during a town-hall meeting. After the president estimates the profitability of Mr. Cain's company, suggesting he can afford the legislation, Mr. Cain essentially dismantles the Clinton math, in detail. "The cost of your plan . . . will cause us to eliminate jobs."

None of this can be put across in the televised debates' explain-everything-in-30 seconds format. Nor is there any chance to elaborate his Sept. 7 debate remark that he admires Chile's private-public social security system. Or his flat-tax "9-9-9" proposal. (Or any of the candidates' policy ideas for that matter.) So voters get nothing, and Mr. Cain flounders.

When Mr. Cain talked to the Journal's editors, the most startling thing he said, and which he's been repeating lately, was that he could win one-third of the black vote. Seeing Herman Cain make his case to black audiences would be interesting, period. Years ago, describing his chauffeur father's influence on him in Atlanta, Mr. Cain said: "My father gave me a sense of pride. He was the best damn chauffeur. He knew it, and everybody else knew it." Here's guessing he'd get more of this vote than past GOP candidates.

Does a résumé like Herman Cain's add up to an American presidency? I used to think not. But after watching the American Idol system we've fallen into for discovering a president—with opinion polls, tongue slips and media caprice deciding front-runners and even presidents—I'm rewriting my presidential-selection software.

Conventional wisdom holds that this week's Chris Christie boomlet means the GOP is desperate for a savior. The reality is that, at some point, Republicans will have to start drilling deeper on their own into the candidates they've got.

Put it this way: The GOP nominee is running against the incumbent president. Unlike the incumbent, Herman Cain has at least twice identified the causes of a large failing enterprise, designed goals, achieved them, and by all accounts inspired the people he was supposed to lead. Not least, Mr. Cain's life experience suggests that, unlike the incumbent, he will adjust his ideas to reality.

Herman Cain is a credible candidate. Whether he deserves to be president is something voters will decide. But he deserves a serious look.

A couple of interesting points.
First, as Rick Scott noted on Fox News before the recent Florida debate, that state's GOP straw poll winner has gone on to win the nomination something like that for the last 3 election cycles. I forget the details, but Scott's point was attention-getting.
Second, I saw a black liberal Fox News Contributor last night on Bill O'Reilly's program call Cain racist for saying he can take one-third of the black votes in 2012. How rich, eh?
Third, Dennis Miller also endorsed Cain this week in one of his O'Reilly program segments. His comedy aside, Miller is typically blunt and on the question of Cain's foreign policy weakness, simply said, in effect, 'could he really be any worse than the guy we already have?'
On a more serious note, though, I do feel Cain is the GOP guy to support. At this point in the campaign, here is my reasoning.
Bachmann has self-destructed by virtue of her big mouth spitting out nonsense faster than her brain can stop it. She makes dumb factual errors in passionate moments, and it's gotten to be more than a nuisance. A liberal friend pointed out that, with Bachmann's lack of executive experience, if elected, she's likely to be surrounded and dominated by a cadre of strong ideologues. Like Wonderboy. And, says my friend, like W was. I disagreed about that, but it's what many believe, especially about W's foreign policy and the way he let Powell and Rice go soft on various rogue regimes.
Perry has proven he's not yet ready for prime time. It's not whether he knows foreign policy. To write that his pussy-footing on Social Security, after the correct and lucid 'Ponzi scheme' remark, was disappointing, is a gross understatement.
I still don't trust Romney. Over lunch yesterday with a very longtime, also libertarian friend, we agreed that Romney wouldn't be so suspect if he would just admit he made a mistake pushing RomneyCare in Massachusetts. That it is breaking that state's budget, and was badly designed. But, then, he'd have to admit that, as analyst-in-chief, which is Mitt's signature theme, he made a mistake.
So, then, you have to wonder whether he'll do a Britney Spears: Oops! I did it again!
Newt is smart and capable of defeating Wonderboy in a debate, but he's an ethically-challenged egomaniac. Doesn't really play well with others.
Huntsman is unexciting, suspect, for me, of simply being a rich man's son who's bought what he has accomplished. And he's more of a Democrat than a Republican on many issues.
Ron Paul is, while well-intentioned, a cranky nut-case. Sort of a much more right-wing McCain.
Rick Santorum, while earnest and smart, was a Senator. No executive experience, too hung up on rigid Catholicism (and I'm an ex-Catholic, so I would know). Like many Senators, good talker, suspect on getting the job done.
My major problem with Cain has been his total lack of political experience in office.
But, after reading Henninger, I'm reminded that, most importantly, like, say, Washington, Eisenhower and Lincoln (yes, I know, Lincoln had political experience. But not governing experience.), Cain has deep, rich life experience.
That's the biggest contrast between Herman Cain and Wonderboy.
And, for what it's worth, Lincoln was elected to captain, and led, a company of Illinois volunteers in the Blackhawk wars.

Then there's the race issue.

Personally, I always believed that America would elect the right black candidate as president when his/her race was not the issue, but his/her experience and qualifications were. Instead, we got the First Rookie, who basically was elected because nearly every black, and many guilt-ridden, middle-class white yuppie voters, who wanted to feel good about their morality and sense of fairness-by-repaying-slavery-with-electing-a-black.

Wonderboy has no serious life experience, and it shows.

Herman Cain, on the other hand, is a guy you'd support because of his accomplishments, irrespective of his race.

And, okay, I have to admit, how amazing would it be to watch Wonderboy have to debate and run against another of his own minority race, only older, wiser and with many more accomplishments? Where will the class warfare, hate and demonizing race rhetoric fit in for Obama in that election race? Pun intended.

And, finally, Cain seems to me to be the quintessential type of first black to earn the GOP presidential nomination. Lincoln's party nominates a man who rises to the task by virtue of his talent and determination, not on the basis of favors given him due to his race.
I believe that Cain's life experience, business experience and success, and overall common sense, put him above the rest of the GOP field running for president.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Uneven Quality of Presidents

With all the hand wringing over the current field of GOP candidates for the 2012 presidential nomination, it's tempting to think this is new. That we're facing, for the first time ever, the prospect of a less-than-optimal president replacing an even worse one.

However, as I've written in earlier posts, ever since I voted in my first presidential election, in 1976, for Carter, I've rarely felt I was voting for the best candidate in the nation. Merely the better or best one on the ballot.

I really thought Carter could do the job, and was a worthy candidate. But, of course, he failed. In the next election, I didn't trust Reagan's intellect, so I voted for Anderson, who I didn't think was exactly presidential, but a safer choice than the other two.

I felt comfortable voting to re-elect Reagan, but didn't really think Bush senior, Dole, or Bush the younger were the best the party could have offered. Nor was I thrilled with McCain. He was cranky and over the hill.

Recalling the line of presidents from my youth, I don't think I'd have been particularly thrilled by any of the candidates except perhaps JFK, and probably Goldwater.

But, generally speaking, it's not like the US has had a steady succession of Washingtons and Lincolns for the past 50 or 100 years.

So, regardless of how much the left denigrates Perry, Romney or Bachmann, those candidates, along with Cain, Santorum, even Gingrich, are really no different in caliber than many of those who have held the office they seek.

Don't despair over the quality of the GOP candidate field. It's really no better, nor worse, than we've seen for decades.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chris Christie's Reagan Library Speech 27September 2011

For those of you who missed it, or want to see it again, here is NJ Governor Chris Christie's keynote address from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California last night. His speech is in two parts, with Q&A in two more videos.

Part Two of address

Q&A Part One

Q&A Part Two

I watched as much of it live as I could. First on Fox, which broke for a commercial. So I turned to CSPAN, which is the source for these videos, courtesy of a YouTube channel contributor.

About half way through his address, I began to feel that Christie might announce, or reply to a question in the affirmative, that he had reconsidered running for the GOP presidential nomination. But he didn't.

Instead, it was simply a very presidential address from a state governor with some major, although unfinished, accomplishments.

It's perhaps now easier, since this was a national platform, for other, non-NJ US citizens to see why Christie is so well-regarded among conservatives and conservative pundits. He does seem to state things clearly, display leadership by his actions, and strike a tone that is at once less combative, yet more effective, vis a vis Wonderboy.

As I listened to and watched Christie speak, I was struck by how different is his style than the current Oval Office occupant. None of the black Baptist-style oratorical harangues or phrasing styles. Rather, very much like Reagan, a more reasoned, balanced, deliberate style. Less emotive sing-song linguistic tricks and more substance.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Regarding Chris Christie's Rumored Presidential Run

I had an impassioned call from a public union employee here in NJ this morning. She is concerned that,

"the anti-Christ is running for president."

Of course, she is referring to this week's rumors that NJ governor and enemy #1 of the state's public sector unions, Chris Christie, may be reconsidering his refusal to run for the GOP presidential nomination.

My friend then insisted that Christie is "never in New Jersey," which I immediately branded as a lie concocted by her union bosses. He may travel around the country to support fellow GOP officials, raise funds, and generally boost voter awareness of himself for some future presidential run. But that's not illegal. And my friend confessed to having no actual personal knowledge of Christie's calendar or travel schedule.

Further, I pointed out to her that, if she really believes her union's screeds against Christie, then she should be glad he might be elected out of his current office.

Then she contended that he "hates New Jersey." This, too, is, of course, a lie. The guy has ceaselessly explained that he ran for governor because he loves his home state and wanted to do what he could to save it from fiscal ruin.

But as to the recent rumors that he's now considering running in the GOP race for the presidential nomination, well, I don't think he's going to enter that race.

Is he tempted by Rick Perry's awful debate performances? Probably. And Perry's troubling off-the-cuff gaffes? Yes.

But don't think that the next Rick Perry won't be Chris Christie when it comes to gaffes. Not to mention Christie's own record.

Perry is a two-term governor of a state which has seen huge, if low-paying, job growth under his governorship.

When you think of Christie running for president, two words ought to come to mind:

Sarah Palin

Like the former Alaska governor, Christie has yet to complete a full term, let alone be re-elected. And his budgetary accomplishments, while important, are fairly modest so far. His fight with the teachers' union, while bearing fruit, isn't yet enough to solve New Jersey's $20B pension funding gap.

Everyone in New Jersey knows that, for Christie's public sector union pension and health care funding crusade to be complete, he has to take on the firefighters and police unions, too. Then get re-elected.

Christie has set New Jersey on a new, post-Corzine and -McGreavey course, but it's not yet enough to declare victory.

Then you have Christie's vulnerability, shared with Rick Perry, on foreign policy issues.

Personally, I think Christie is right to reject efforts to draft him. Even if Tom Kean is correct in saying Christie is reconsidering, I think the current governor will be making a big mistake if he decides, after all, to run for president.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Regarding Ron Suskind's Confidence Men

Peggy Noonan's column in this past weekend's edition of the Wall Street Journal, entitled Amateur Hour at the White House, began with a reference to Ron Suskind's just-published book, Confidence Men.

She wrote,

"If Mr. Suskind is right, I have been wrong in my critiques of the president's economic policy. None of it was as bad as I said. It was much worse.

The most famous part of the book is the Larry Summers quote that he saw it as a "Home Alone" administration, with no grown-ups in charge. But there's more than that. Most of us remember the president as in a difficult position from day one: two wars and an economic crash, good luck with that. But Mr. Suskind recasts the picture.

He ran meetings as if they were afternoon talk shows. An unnamed adviser says the 2009 stimulus legislation was the result of "poor conceptualizing." Another: "We should have spent more time thinking about where the money was being spent, rather than simply that there was this hole of a certain size in the economy that needed to be filled, so fill it." Well, yes.

The decision to focus on health care was the president's own. It could have been even worse. Some staffers advised him—this was just after the American economy lost almost 600,000 jobs in one month—that he should focus on global warming.

Mr. Suskind's book is controversial, and some of his sources have accused him of misquoting them. The White House says Mr. Suskind talked to too many disgruntled former staffers. But he seems to have talked to a lot of gruntled ones, too. The overarching portrait of chaos, lack of intellectual depth and absence of political wisdom, from a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at this paper, rings true."

It's worse than that. Last week stories ran regarding Anita Dunn and Christine Romer telling Wonderboy that the anti-female bias in the upper echelons of his administration was so bad it could trigger a lawsuit. Dunn denied the stories and claimed Suskind misquoted her.

Imagine how shocked she must have been when the New York Times wrote that Suskind played the tape of the interview and......he stands vindicated.

My question is, how arrogant must Wonderboy have been to allow such access to be granted, such stories to stream out of his White House. And just in time for the election cycle.

I'm not at all sure Noonan is correct in characterizing Summers' comments as the worst. But the coming weeks should bring more interesting tidbits along similar lines.