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  • Herman Cain: Have We Seen This Movie?

    Posted by Lexington Green on October 26th, 2011 (All posts by )

    Herman Cain raises some echoes of things we’ve seen before.

    He reminds me of Ross Perot. The same outsider stance. The same businessman, anti-Washington background. His 999 plan reminds me of something that Perot might have come up with. But unlike Mr. Perot, Mr. Cain has charm, he has a sense of humor, he seems to have political rationality, and he seems not to be a megalomaniac. Perhaps most importantly, he is running as a Republican, which means he has a meaningful chance to actually win.

    He reminds me of Reagan. A crowd-pleasing speaker who can get the base of the party on its feet and clapping. Again, a sense of humor, and a lack of apparent egotism. He is like the Reagan of the mid-60s, a person who is leaving a successful career in another field to get into politics, though of course he is doing so much later in life. Also, like Reagan, he does not sweat the small stuff, which will drive wonks of all stripes, and the MSM, into hysteria.

    He reminds me of Clarence Thomas. He does not remind me of our two prior serious Black candidates for president, Mr. Obama and Rev. Jackson. He carries his African American heritage with dignity, and he is forthright about the hardships he and his family suffered. But he does not talk in terms of grievance or injustice, but of pride, progress and opportunity.

    He reminds me of Wendell Willkie, a candidate from outside the mainstream of the GOP, with a business background, who surprised the Party machine and captured the nomination as the champion to drive the liberal-progressive monster from the White House. If the Germans had not overrun Western Europe in 1940, turning the election into a foreign policy election, Willkie would have had a good chance to beat FDR. The odds of 2012 being a foreign policy election are poor, unless Mr. Obama initiates open warfare with Iran.

    Still, when you add it all up, the answer is no, this really is a brand new movie. We have not seen this movie yet.

    Herman Cain is mostly different from all the earlier movies.

    The ad with the guy smoking is a curve ball. Who does it appeal to? What does it mean? (Stop it at 40 seconds: Is that a joint?) What are we to make of this? It is funny, though.

    We will likely see more surprises.

    So, while my guess is that Mitt Romney will carry all before him, I would not bet on it, not yet.

     

    21 Responses to “Herman Cain: Have We Seen This Movie?”

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I agree although Willkie was a Roosevelt Democrat in most ways. Roosevelt even considered offering him the VP nomination in 1944. That would have been interesting but Willkie died before the election.

    2. TMLutas Says:

      The smoking is code talk. It says that Cain is not politically correct, will not be overtly aggressive about it but will be matter of fact “in your face”. It’s something of a promise that Cain will give social permission for people to be free and not suppress and shame people for doing what is permitted by law. Look at the comments on the video.

    3. Lexington Green Says:

      The comments are generally pretty disparaging. I don’t see this ad being effective for much of anything. But I hope I will be surprised.

    4. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “So, while my guess is that Mitt Romney will carry all before him, I would not bet on it, not yet.”

      Folks over at Intrade are offering 2:1.

      Herman seems like a nice guy, but I have been underwhelmed by his inability to answer tough questions crisply. Many times when asked questions about foreign policy, and even about, his own proposals, his answers have been little more than tap dancing.

      I think he is the flavor of the month among the increasingly hysterical “Romney = Obama” camp. Personally, I think we should order a carload of Xanax for them and be done with it.

      There is also a problem with his horse race strategy. His best shot at an early victory that could give him some momentum as we get into the primary season, which is only 8 weeks away, would be Iowa. Yet, Cain has not campaigned there, and both Bachmann and Santorum are focusing all of their energy there. They will cut up the evangelical vote and leave Herman no better than 3rd. It is one reason that many pundits refuse to take him as a serious candidate.

    5. Westie Says:

      The Rockie Republicans are trying to figure out if they cook their goose with the repulsive insider Mitt/Rove/Bush or if they manage to destroy the party by alienating the Tea Party majority. The Stoopid Party will manage to do both and thus go the way of the whig.

    6. Fritz Eco Says:

      I am curious about these statements:

      “He does not remind me of our two prior serious Black candidates for president, Mr. Obama and Rev. Jackson. He carries his African American heritage with dignity, and he is forthright about the hardships he and his family suffered. But he does not talk in terms of grievance or injustice, but of pride, progress and opportunity.”

      Does this imply that Obama does not ‘carries his African American heritage with dignity, and he is forthright about the hardships he and his family suffered. But he does not talk in terms of grievance or injustice, but of pride, progress and opportunity.’ I guess as African Americans, I see both of them carrying themselves the same way.

    7. Lexington Green Says:

      Fritz Eco: Thanks for the comment. I should probably not have lumped Obama and Jackson together. One problem with blogs is they are brief and brevity leaves out detail. I do see a contrast between Mr. Cain and Mr. Obama, but Mr. Obama is a much more subtle figure than Rev. Jackson is now or was in 1988. I may go back and revise that paragraph.

    8. Roy Lofquist Says:

      To me the cigarette is a middle finger to the Politically Correct. I’m a pretty mellow fellow but I am getting damned sick and tired of the Nazis – the Feminazis, the smoking Nazis, the racism Nazis – threatening me with public approbation for holding different opinions. Herman don’t take that shit and that alone makes him a champion.

    9. Lexington Green Says:

      I think maybe the gentleman in the video is meant to be the ideal Cain voter. A harried, overworked, or under-employed, or unemployed, middle aged white guy. He is under a lot of stress and he wants some relief. He is smoking a cigarette — or, something — to show how much stress he is under.

    10. tdaxp Says:

      This seemed to support my thought that Cain is running for Romney’s VP. The add signals both that he is not seriously interested in contesting establishment support for Romney, but also demosntrated an ability to talk to the GOP base in code (as many others have pointed out). Cain’s true opponents are not Romney and Perry, but Rubio and Christie.

    11. Lexington Green Says:

      TDAXP, I have been suspecting that VP strategy for a while. I have also suspected that there is implicit (or secret) collusion between Cain and Romney, to isolate and neutralize the threat from the Right and lay the foundation for Romney to join forces with a community and a movement he cannot reach out to directly, to create a unity ticket to take out BHO.

      If so, and if this is by design, Romney is a strategic genius.

      Also, Cain’s smile at the end of the ad is cryptic. It suggests that the ad is to be taken as coded or ironic. It is either some kind of thrown together mishmash, or is something subtler and smarter. I am not sure what it really is.

    12. tdaxp Says:

      Lexington,

      A transcript of the ad:

      Mark Block here.

      Since January, I’ve had the privilege of being the Chief of Staff to Hermann Cain, and the Chief Operating Officer of the Friends of Hermann Cain.

      Tomorrow is one day closer to the White House.

      I really believe that Herman Cain will put ‘united’ back in the United States of America, and if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be here.

      We’ve run a campaign like nobody’s ever seen, but then, America’s never seen a candidate like Hermann Cain.

      We need you to get involved, because together we can do this, we can take this country back.

      [Music: I am America, one voice, united we stand.
      I am America, one hope, to heel our land]

      I think an argument that the images of the ad are a coded message to the base, while the words of the ad are a coded message to the Establishent, makes a ton of sense.

    13. Lexington Green Says:

      Dan, maybe so.

      Weird stuff, weird times.

    14. Gerry from Valpo Says:

      “Herman don’t take that shit and that alone makes him a champion.”

      He will never, ever, be mistaken with Lovie Smith : )

    15. S O Says:

      His 9-9-9 plan is a redistribution of net income from poor to rich, even right-wing economists have pointed that out.

      Cain didn’t prove that he has any answer to major problems or at least a good understanding of problems.

      So far I don’t see him as a competent candidate. The media seems to shift its focus from one candidate to another, with a subsequent (short-lived) boost of poll ratings for the candidate in the focus.

      In fact, so far no candidate seems to get the economic stuff (manufacturing, jobs, middle incomes and opportunities to enter the middle class) right.
      This includes Obama, who doesn’t seem to have noticeable understanding of the economy or good taste in selecting advisers or secretaries for the job.

    16. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      I would add one more message to Tdaxp’s list. The music used. “I am America” by Kristi Branch is one of the more popular TEA Party “anthems”. He has adopted it as his official campaign theme song, and Kristi Branch is making appearances at his rallies. It is a direct call out to the TEA Party.

      I had not known at the time when I first saw the ad that he had adopted it. But I sat up straight as soon as I heard the first 3 notes and recognized it. Look for it on YouTube, and you will see why it would have such an affect.

      Subotai Bahadur

    17. foxmarks Says:

      Applicable to any of the Republican contender threads: Palin may be out of the headlines, but she has the power to move people. I say she will determine which of this field is nominated. Maybe not the one she picks. Her choosing may solidify the position of somebody else. Depends on the timing of an announcement.

      The tag at the end of the ad, where Herman’s face go from stare to smile is fantastic. The man speaking comes across as somebody you recognize from the bar…Joe the Middle Manager. The combined coded messages are great. Cain hired some brilliant ad people.

    18. Anonymous Says:

      I wonder is the “smoker” ad a set-up? Has the MSM been covering-up Obama’s habit?

    19. tdaxp Says:

      I’m listening to I Am America on Zune – Subotai is absolutely right. The song choice is not accidental (ht http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/k/krista_branch/i_am_america.html)

      “Pay no attention to the people in the street,
      Crying out for accountability.
      Make a joke of what we believe,
      Say we don’t matter cause you disagree.

      Pretend you’re kings, sit on your throne,
      Look down your nose at the peasants below.
      I’ve got some news; we’re taking names,
      We’re waiting now for the judgment day.

      I am America, one voice, united we stand.
      I am America, one hope to heal our land.
      There is still work that must be done.
      I will not rest until we’ve won.

      I am America.

      You preach your tolerance but lecture me.
      Is there no end to your own hypocrisy?
      Your god is power, you have no shame,
      Your only interest is political gain.
      [ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/k/krista_branch/i_am_america.html ]
      You hide your eyes and refuse to listen.
      You play your games and abuse the system.
      You stuff your pockets while Rome is burning.
      I’ve got a feeling that the tide is turning.

      I am America, one voice, united we stand.
      I am America, one hope to heal our land.
      I will not give up on this fight,
      I will not fade into the night.

      I am America.

      You stuff your pockets while Rome is burning.
      I’ve got a feeling that the tide is turning.

      I am America, one voice, united we stand.
      I am America, one hope to heal our land.
      I am America, one voice, united we stand.
      I am America, one hope to heal our land.
      I will not give up on this fight,
      I will not fade into the night.

      I am America.”

    20. S O Says:

      This pre-election stuff is all over the anglophone internet. You cannot miss it…

      “That the 9-9-9 plan would cut taxes on the rich while raising them on the poor led Bruce Bartlett to call the proposal “a distributional monstrosity”, a phrase you could imagine Barack Obama using to good effect in a general election. Why would you propose to raise taxes on the poor, making yourself vulnerable to charges of monstrous callousness, when, as the NR editors note, your ultimate plan would only cut them later? Well, you wouldn’t, if you knew what you were doing. It requires only superficial examination to see that Mr Cain’s 9-9-9/Fair Tax scheme is more an ill-considered, hand-waving improvisation than a serious plan from a serious policymaker.”

      http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/10/herman-cain

    21. Robert Schwartz Says:

      The real gripe about 9-9-9 is that the middle 9, the business tax is, in fact, a VAT. I will only be willing to accept a VAT, if the 16th Amendment is repealed and replaced by a provision that makes an income tax unconstitutional at the Federal level, and that requires a 2/3rds majority in both houses to impose a new tax, or raise the rates in an existing one.