All American Blogger: Herman Cain’s Achilles’ Heel
I like Herman Cain. I trust the guy. I think that he’s running for president for all of the right reasons, and I truly believe that he would make a great leader — if he take the next 18 months or so and educates himself on certain issues. After watching what I thought was a cringe-worthy performance on Fox News Sunday–”he got trounced,” is the text message I sent to my boss–I had planned a piece on what it would take for Cain to deepen his understanding of the issues that matter. Thankfully, Duane Lester over at All American Blogger already did so for me. Speaking about his bombed answer on Fox News Sunday, as well as the generalities with which Cain spoke during the Greenville, South Carolina GOP debate a few weeks ago, Duane wrote the following:
When you couple the two answers, it creates serious doubt that Cain understands foreign policy. That doubt can torpedo a campaign.
There are two things Cain can do to fix this. First, learn the art of BS like a world champion. Cain admitted that Wallace caught him off guard with the question on right of return. Here’s the thing: that’s going to happen. You have got to be able to B.S. your way out of those questions. There’s an art to it. It can be learned. If Nancy Pelosi can do it, so can Herman Cain. Learn it. Use it.
Second, he needs to open that giant brain pan of his and start dumping some industrial strength foreign policy knowledge into it. Hire the best wonks you can afford and start training on this stuff where ever you go. If he’s riding on Highway 2 in Iowa, he better have a cheat sheet and a teacher in his face. When he’s walking the treadmill, have a audio book drilling into his ear holes. Sitting on the pot? Bring a book.
He’s in a bad spot. See, there’s knowing what you know, not knowing what you know, knowing what you don’t know, and not knowing what you don’t know. (Yeah, I channeled a little Rumsfeld there.)
On Sunday, he didn’t know what he didn’t know. The answer on Sunday proves it. Now he knows what he doesn’t know. He needs a teacher who can educate him, and he needs it fast.
One thing that I hope voters on the right understand is that, in Barack Obama, we had someone who spoke in platitudes and rhetorical flourishes, without lending much to the discussion in terms of policy and specifics. While I am sure that Mr. Cain has a vast understanding of what it takes to build a business, I don’t know that his knowledge base when it comes to national security and foreign policy is much better–if not worse–than Barack Obama’s was at this stage of the 2008 campaign. It is disingenuous for the right to plant a flag in Cain’s candidacy and dismiss the very same weaknesses that we so derided when it came to then Sen. Obama.
So, what does this mean for the presidential election. Well, I’m hoping that my infant son will sleep long enough during my shift at night so that I may share my thoughts, but in the meantime I can be brief. I don’t think that this coming election cycle is as much about independent voters as it has been in years past. This time around, the political climate has been polarizing enough to diminish the number of independents, and besides — the sea change that we’ve seen in American politics, most notably the emergence of the Tea Party as an influencing body on the right, means that this election will be about (a) a referendum on President Obama, which will in turn depend (b) not so much on how independents perceive him, but (c) more about how excited the GOP nominee can make the base on the right.