The current crop of Republican presidential candidates should be a depressing sight to conservatives that are serious about winning back the White House and reversing the socialistic trend of the current Obama administration. Despite promising “hope and change,” Barack Obama has unambiguously failed as a president.
That notwithstanding, Obama has to run against somebody – and if that somebody is a deeply flawed candidate without the political ability needed to sway flimsy, unprincipled voters, Obama may just be elected to a second term as president.
Herman Cain is undoubtedly a good conservative. He has the right principles and he knows the right things to say that will appeal to his base. However, as far as I am concerned, Herman Cain does not possess the requisite tact to be a successful politician. He cannot differentiate between the role of a pundit and that of a politician.
Know Your Role: Pundit vs. Politician
A pundit is someone who unapologetically and glibly speaks their mind with little to no care as to how they are perceived. Making distinctly polemical statements is an irreducible component of being a successful pundit. A pundit that carefully measures their words and writes austerely in an attempt not to offend is a pundit that has no real impact or influence.
By contrast, however, a politician needs to be much more guarded with their speech. Politicians cannot shoot from the hip with their statements, and they must be aware of the fact that everything they say and do can – and will – be used against them politically. A politician must keep the voters in mind when speaking – and a good politician is someone with the power of persuasion that can speak their mind without putting off voters. It is not obvious to me that Cain has this ability.
In an interview with the liberal group Think Progress, Herman Cain was asked whether or not he would have Muslims in his cabinet or whether he’d appoint a Muslim to a federal judicial position. He answered, “No. I will not. And here’s why…” before proceeding with a long, poorly formulated answer about Sharia law. Here’s the clip:
Evidently, Cain cannot differentiate between speaking at a Tea Party rally and speaking to a liberal reporter clearly looking for a “gotcha!” moment. A person with real political ability would have either deflected the question altogether, or answered with the following statement: “I will appoint any person to any post in my administration as long as I believe they are qualified for the job, share my vision for the country, and have the same respect for the Constitution as I do.” Getting into a discussion about Sharia law at that moment was a flagrant display of political injudiciousness.
‘What Do You Think of the Right of Return?’
Another one of Cain’s downfalls is his glaring lack of foreign policy knowledge. I understand that Cain is not a career politician, but if he is planning on running against a man who fortuitously captured and killed the Hitler of our time, having a gap in foreign policy knowledge gives ample ammunition to the mainstream media.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Herman Cain what his position was on the “right of return” vis-à-vis the Arab-Israel conflict. Herman Cain clearly looked perturbed and acted as if he had never heard the term before. Although people were quick to give him a pass, as far as I am concerned, this is a shocking gaffe. Here is the clip:
Although Cain supporters would argue that this was a tricky question, I find that argument to be utterly dishonest. The right of return is so elementary to the Arab-Israel conflict that for someone to not know what it is demonstrates two things: (a) the person has never even browsed through a pamphlet on the topic, much less picked up a book on it, and (b) such a person shouldn’t be on television offering any analysis on the topic at all. Contrary to popular belief among Cain’s ardent supporters, asking someone for their position on the right of return is not tantamount to asking someone to explain the intricacies of the First Aliyah of 1882.
To not know what the right of return is as a presidential candidate is almost as politically damaging as thinking an electoral college is a college where candidates learn how to be elected, or, even worse, thinking that a ‘filibuster’ is a type of wrestling maneuver. Before Cain announced his candidacy, he should have known that as a Republican – and a black one, no less – he would be held to a considerably higher standard than the average Democrat.
On domestic issues, Herman Cain is solid, but if he is going to hold a candle to Obama on foreign policy, he’s got some serious work to do. Apart from merely having a solid grasp on foreign policy issues, Herman Cain must demonstrate an ability to deftly debate these issues. For example, Obama got Osama, but Cain needs to know how to paint a larger analytical picture as to why Obama is still a dangerous president to have at a time of high-risk terrorism – and why his policies are superior.
Personally, while I greatly admire Cain, I don’t think he is the man for the job. He’ll serve the country better as a radio host and a political pundit. In my view, the man for the job of POTUS is Marco Rubio.
Why Marco Rubio is the Best Candidate for 2012
Traditional Republicans dismiss the idea of running Rubio for 2012 as an utterly preposterous theory that would never work. These establishment Republicans are clearly ill-informed about the changing political tide in the country and exactly what it will take to defeat Obama.
In a must-read piece in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Shelby Steele argues that Obama has what he calls cultural charisma — and that quality is what makes him difficult to beat despite his failure as president. Here is an excerpt:
There have really always been two Barack Obamas: the mortal man and the cultural icon. If the actual man is distinctly ordinary, even a little flat and humorless, the cultural icon is quite extraordinary. The problem for Republicans is that they must run against both the man and the myth. In 2008, few knew the man and Republicans were walloped by the myth. Today the man is much clearer, and yet the myth remains compelling.
What gives Mr. Obama a cultural charisma that most Republicans cannot have? First, he represents a truly inspiring American exceptionalism: He is the first black in the entire history of Western civilization to lead a Western nation—and the most powerful nation in the world at that. And so not only is he the most powerful black man in recorded history, but he reached this apex only through the good offices of the great American democracy.
Clearly, Marco Rubio is the person that can convincingly countervail the cultural charisma that Barack Obama brings to the table. It also helps that Rubio isn’t as old as John McCain. If anything, Rubio will be the young, fresh, and hip person in contrast with an ever-graying Obama with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
While I find the “cultural charisma” argument to be interesting, it is only a subsidiary of a much larger point that makes Marco Rubio the president’s worst nightmare: Marco Rubio is the personification of eloquence.
Yes, the race and cultural charisma discussion is fascinating, but the “Who is the Better Speaker?” question is a much more interesting one. While Obama is a gifted sophist and master prevaricator, Marco Rubio has a native gift for speaking. He is clear, eloquent, and speaks from the heart in a way that politicians rarely do.
Politically, it is also important to note that Rubio is far more polished than someone like Herman Cain. Because he is politically savvy and intelligent, it would be a rare sighting to see an atrabilious left-wing reporter trap him with asinine hypothetical questions. Watching him chat with someone like Katie Couric would be an absolute treat.
Age and ‘Lack of Experience’ Are Not Strikes against Rubio
As mentioned previously, Rubio’s age would be an advantage in 2012. Republicans tried the experiment of running Methuselah in 2008 against the young, fresh Obama, so why would we want to try the same strategy? If Republicans are wise, they’d turn the tables on Obama by making him the graying old guy in comparison to a young, fresh candidate. Clearly, Rubio is someone that young, non-ideological voters could gravitate towards just on the basis of appearance and “coolness.” Understanding that there are many people in America that vote on manifestly superficial factors, like appearance and age, is as critical to Republican success as promulgating conservative ideas to thinking voters.
(For further reading on this, I suggest the magnificent book Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation by Jason Mattera.)
As far as experience is concerned, liberals have absolutely no leg to stand on considering that Rubio has vastly more experience than Obama had while he was a candidate. Rubio was a successful Speaker of the Florida State House from 2006 to 2008 before becoming a United States Senator.
Because Rubio is young, he hasn’t got an excessively long record or political baggage that he can be nailed on – which explains why the only thing liberals can attack him on is the fact that he dared to borrow money to finance his way through undergraduate and law school.
Marco Rubio is my candidate for president not because he is a Hispanic right-winger and can beat a black liberal; rather, he is my candidate for president because he is the only Republican that I believe can argumentatively crush Obama during presidential debates. Also, clearly, he is the right candidate in this political climate to knock off the Democrats’ messiah.
If only the leaders of the Republican establishment possessed the slightest bit of political foresight to ditch self-evident political losers, like Gingrich and Romney, and stop trying to turn pundits into politicians, like Herman Cain, they’d see that Marco Rubio is an absolute winner.