The Waning Cain

I first met Herman Cain this past February when he addressed a Republican luncheon in Las Vegas, and spoke about his ideas as a potential candidate for president in 2012. Overall, I liked his frankness and some of his ideas to tackle some of the most serious issues our country is facing. If I had to describe Herman Cain in one way, it would be that he pulls no punches, tells it like it is, and has no patience for nonsense.

When I saw Cain for the second and third time, in early March and again in May, his speech was pretty much the same. He recited his sturdy one-liners like “not on our watch,” and his “immigration is four problems.” He didn’t offer too many specifics on foreign policy, but all three times he gave the audience some applause-worthy red meat. Herman Cain is an outsider, a different kind of presidential candidate. He’s not a politician, and he’ll tell you so.

However, is that what American wants? Or needs?

If you’re anything like me, you don’t like the typical career politician. You know the type: Always running for office, avoiding controversy once elected, putting on the fake smile, and never actually doing anything. Washington has too much of that. Too many people want to be something, rather than do something. There is a difference.

Now, suppose I need to have surgery to remove my appendix. Do I want the career doctor? Or would I prefer to have the receptionist operate on me? If my football team – the New England Patriots, if anyone cares – makes it to the Superbowl, do I want a career quarterback in the game? Or would I settle for the guy who runs the concession stand?

In the world of government and politics, it is important to understand how the system works. Regardless of how much a presidential candidate may want to change the system, he or she is just one cog in the machine. One could say that in order to change the system, you have to know the ins and outs first.

Herman Cain says he doesn’t want to know how Washington works. In fact, he said at the Right Online conference in Minneapolis this weekend that he doesn’t need to know how it works, because it doesn’t.

Wouldn’t fixing the problems of our country be more difficult, if our next president had no idea how the system works? Is Herman Cain ready to be president, simply because of his business credentials?

Some examples from the campaign trail may shed some light on the situation.

While being interviewed on Fox News Sunday last month, Mr. Cain was asked about the Palestinian concept of “right of return.” This refers back to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs either fled or were expelled from their homes in what became Israel. Palestinians believe that these refugees, and their descendants, have the sacred right to return to their homes and property in Israel, or be compensated by Israel. This has become a major sticking point in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Herman Cain was caught flat-footed, only able to demonstrate that he was not familiar with the concept. His answer was convoluted at best, first stating that it should be negotiated, and then claiming that Israel doesn’t have a big problem with people returning. This was after slamming President Obama for “throwing Israel under the bus.”

The previous day, when announcing his candidacy for president in Atlanta, Herman Cain said that Americans do not need to re-write the Constitution, they need to re-read the Constitution. This line grew great applause from the audience in attendance. However, Mr. Cain went on to quote the Constitution as including a line about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” which actually appears in the Declaration of Independence. Cain went on to talk about Americans’ right to “alter or to abolish” government – also found in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. This prompted several pundits to suggest that it was Herman Cain who needed to re-read the Constitution, and with good reason.

On Afghanistan, Herman Cain refuses to put forward a plan, saying that he would defer to the experts – unnamed experts. While I certainly hope he would surround himself with knowledgeable experts as president, it is still concerning that he has no tentative plan with which to deduce how he would handle the issue as a whole if elected. Cain has used the “defer to experts” line so often, it became part of the Daily Caller’s New Hampshire GOP Debate drinking game, this past week.

Then there’s the 2nd Amendment. Herman Cain, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer earlier this month, stated that he supports the 2nd Amendment. That’s great! But when asked about gun control, and whether states or local governments should be allowed to control guns, he answered, “Yes.” Now perhaps this was yet another example of how Mr. Cain was unprepared for the question, but he’s not running for president of Wendy’s, he’s running for president of the United States. And if he truly wants to be the next president, he needs to know that these questions are coming, and have answers.

Finally, there is a problem of messaging. It’s a problem most Republicans have, so it’s hard to be too critical of Cain.

In one interview, Mr. Cain was asked about his position on homosexuality. He replied, “I believe homosexuality is a sin because I’m a Bible-believing Christian. I believe it’s a sin. But I know that some people make that choice. That’s their choice.” When asked to clarify his position that homosexuality was a choice, Cain replied, “I believe it is a choice.”

Now, having been raised Catholic, I understand that Herman Cain’s view of homosexuality being a sin is perfectly valid. It is what his faith teaches him, and he has a right to believe that. However, as president of the entire United States, Cain would have to represent all Americans – even homosexuals. Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie answered the same question with the following:

“My religion says it’s a sin, but I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. So I think if someone is born that way, it’s very difficult to say that’s a sin. My church says that, but I don’t look upon someone who is homosexual as a sinner.”

In speaking with young people daily about politics, both gay and straight, I can say that the “religious right” is one of the reasons many people leave or avoid the Republican Party. That is not to say that having a foundation of faith is a bad thing. I simply believe that most Americans do not want to get their moral advice from a political party.

As a gay man, I know I was born with a predisposition to be gay, as Governor Christie speculates. Much like heterosexual people develop an attraction for the opposite sex, gay people develop it for the same sex. It’s just that simple. And while the church would advise gays to not act on those attractions, the reality of life necessitates otherwise.

For Herman Cain to believe that homosexuality is a choice, not actually being homosexual himself, would be like me, as a Caucasian, believing Black people face no discrimination in America today. It is simply presumptuous. What it does do, is ensure that many homosexuals never hear his conservative vision for America – because he has already turned them off.

As a gay conservative, I know first-hand how hard it is to convince gays of the merits of conservatism – due in large part to the religious standards within the GOP.

Again, it all goes back to messaging.

This past week on the Alan Stock News Show in Las Vegas, Herman Cain stated that “all Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists have been Muslim – except a couple.”

This is up there with John McCain’s “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” song.

While conservatives will stand up and say “But he’s right! All terrorists ARE Muslim,” they are wrong. There are terrorists all over the world. Some are Black, some are white. Some are male, some are female. Some are right here in the United States, and aren’t Muslim at all.

It’s one thing to say that the radical Islamists who have attacked us look similar, come from similar places, etc. It’s another to make an insensitive statement that all terrorists are Muslim.

Herman Cain is a good guy, and he wants to get involved and help save his country. I get it. And I applaud his willingness to get out there, in front of the public, in front of the media, and be a candidate.

However, we elected a candidate with no experience in 2008, and look where it got us.

Up on stage with six other candidates for the 2012 nomination, Herman Cain, for the first time, looked to be outclassed. His answers were vague, he repeated his standby lines, and offered very little new information as to who he is, and what he would do as our next president.

Herman Cain might make a great CEO and even a great elected official some day. But he is not ready to be president of the United States.

We conservatives may like his no-nonsense attitude, but that and three F-bombs landed Donald Trump back on Celebrity Apprentice, if you know what I mean.

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10 thoughts on “The Waning Cain

  1. This is the first blog to have discussed indepth one of the candidates! Thank you! I have been wondering for quite a while how they were doing. I hope all of them work as a team to take down Obama. Fox News has mentioned a few ads targeting Romney. They don’t appear vicious, though. But Trump was the only “candidate” they featured, and now all is quiet.

    I do not think people are born with any type of sexuality. I believe people develop a sexuality gradually through a subtle subconscious process as they grow up by what they learn to associate with sex. No one chooses their sexuality, but no one is born that way either. In other words, sexuality is more psychological than biological. Culture plays an important part in determining sexual behaviors, but so does personal upbringing and numerous other factors. Also, because sex is more psychological than biological, people CAN choose NOT to have sex; I wish more teenagers would make that decision to abstain.

    I have read parts of the Bible discussing homosexuality, and it takes a well-nuanced view of the matter that we do not see in our society on either side of the debate.

  2. So, you are essentially making a big deal out of a few minor slips. Let’s cut to the chase; you don’t like him because of his answer to the homosexuality question on the CNN debate.

    Copy-pasting my thoughts on this from an earlier thread:

    “I don’t believe in discrimination against homosexuals and I agree with Cain here; I do not think that the two positions are at all mutually exclusive.

    As far as the Bible, bear in mind that a very large portion of the laws laid down by Moses had to do with practical matters that related to the survival of the Hebrew settlement at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Adultery is outlawed because it spreads disease, same for eating pork. Marriage is encouraged because it conversely limits the amount of sex going on, thus potential to spread disease.

    A huge reason for why homosexuality has only recently become socially acceptable is that gays are 6000x more likely to transmit diseases through intercourse, and with there being no such thing as gay marriage (until recently, of course), diseases that were a death sentence until recently would spread like wildfire. Of course God would want Moses to outlaw it for the Hebrew settlement on these grounds.

    As far as choice, I think that he meant that homosexuals make a choice to act on their desires, not to have the desires. Acting on these desires is a sin with respect to the Old Testament; of course, so is eating pork. Of course, it’s generally accepted that the New Covenant overrides the Old Testament, but there’s not much specific mention of homosexuality in the New Testament (at least, I am not enough of a Biblical scholar to know).”

    Back to your article – let’s see you write a similar essay on Obama; except that you have to be as diligent at pinpointing all of his minor failures as you were in critiquing those of Mr. Cain. Perhaps you can make a bestseller of the result of this exercise.

    PS – your analogy of the receptionist performing surgery was just silly; there is no such thing as political school where you learn your trade, and the argument that experience makes a better one can hardly fly in this day and age. I hope that you reconsider your stance on the Hermanator and give him another chance.

  3. Hey Mark,
    I linked this on a Herman Cain site. Here is the first comment from someone:

    So, you are essentially making a big deal out of a few minor slips. Let’s cut to the chase; you don’t like him because of his answer to the homosexuality question on the CNN debate.

    Copy-pasting my thoughts on this from an earlier thread:

    “I …don’t believe in discrimination against homosexuals and I agree with Cain here; I do not think that the two positions are at all mutually exclusive.

    As far as the Bible, bear in mind that a very large portion of the laws laid down by Moses had to do with practical matters that related to the survival of the Hebrew settlement at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Adultery is outlawed because it spreads disease, same for eating pork. Marriage is encouraged because it conversely limits the amount of sex going on, thus potential to spread disease.

    A huge reason for why homosexuality has only recently become socially acceptable is that gays are 6000x more likely to transmit diseases through intercourse, and with there being no such thing as gay marriage (until recently, of course), diseases that were a death sentence until recently would spread like wildfire. Of course God would want Moses to outlaw it for the Hebrew settlement on these grounds.

    As far as choice, I think that he meant that homosexuals make a choice to act on their desires, not to have the desires. Acting on these desires is a sin with respect to the Old Testament; of course, so is eating pork. Of course, it’s generally accepted that the New Covenant overrides the Old Testament, but there’s not much specific mention of homosexuality in the New Testament (at least, I am not enough of a Biblical scholar to know).”

    Back to your article – let’s see you write a similar essay on Obama; except that you have to be as diligent at pinpointing all of his minor failures as you were in critiquing those of Mr. Cain. Perhaps you can make a bestseller of the result of this exercise.

    PS – your analogy of the receptionist performing surgery was just silly; there is no such thing as political school where you learn your trade, and the argument that experience makes a better one can hardly fly in this day and age. I hope that you reconsider your stance on the Hermanator and give him another chance.
    ——————
    My response was that as soon as you start thumping the Bible, you loose. And that he really didn’t read your post. Love these trigger-happy responses…

  4. My next post in response to your somewhat less critical reply (than posted here) was:

    “Honestly, I think that people need to stop getting hung up on social issues altogether. So, a President does not support abortion or gay marriage; big deal. Simple truth is that they can do as much as the last guy to pass any laws on these matters, this being NOTHING. Each State has the right to determine these issues for themselves, and you can bet that a good number will eventually pass laws as they rotate out incumbents in their Congresses, and some States will probably never come close because of population shifts as a result of the former.

    In short, we can’t let all of this distract us from the real issues of whether we get to keep living the American dream, or see it all come crumbling down in our lifetimes. We need a solid fiscal conservative in the White House, and Herman Cain is the man for the job.”

  5. Max: I stand by my post as someone who has met Herman Cain several times, heard him speak both in person several times and in debates on TV, and in numerous interviews.

    The man is not ready to be president.

    As for there being no political school through which to learn one’s trade — there is. It’s called public office.

    I happen to agree completely with Ann Coulter that our next president will not come from the House, or from someone who has not held elected office.

    I’m sure I’ll write more as we progress through the primary season. Thanks for reading, and commenting!

  6. I wouldn’t want a pilot who didn’t want to know how to fly. For me -that statement alone is enough to disqualify Cain as a serious candidate. Thanks for exploring Cain’s qualifications. You have convinced me to explore elsewhere, maybe a Democrat.

  7. I love Herman Cain. However; as with Steve Forbes or Alan Keyes, you need to have the caveat of elected office — preferably Governor — under your belt. That being said, I am strangely seeing real potential in Michele Bachmann if Palin doesn’t get in.

  8. Excuse me, I am considering making an exception for Michele if Palin does not enter. Just to clarify my last statement which makes it seem like I did not know Bachmann was a member of the House as opposed to a former Gov.

    I think she could also be a terrific VP OR she could go back to Minnesota and run for Governor and then run for Pres. again.

  9. I am sick and tired of hearing “people need to stop getting hung up on social issues altogether.” I for one do not believe in playing the game of getting any candidate in just because of his economic record and then hoping he’ll see the light on social issues as well.

    Some forget so easily that it wasn’t until our lifetimes that it was ruled unconstitutional for the law to incarcerate us for consentual private sex, and that the only two dissenting justices on the issues were the two conservative voices.

    We do not need to, and should not, compromise on this, no matter how pretty an economic bow is tied around the candidate. Lord knows that people like Bachmann aren’t intending to compromise their views on homosexuality any day soon.

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