Herman Cain's Campaign Autobiography
A prerequisite for presidential candidates these days is to publish their autobiographies, and Herman Cain is no different. His book, This Is Herman Cain! My Journey To The White House, profiles Cain's family life, education, work experience, and philosophy. Mr. Cain had the time to answer only a few questions for American Thinker. He and his campaign have promised a more detailed follow-up interview; yet, as of this date, an additional interview has not been scheduled.
The first part of the book is a detailed description about his early life and his rise up through the ranks of the corporate world. The reader finds out that he did not have a victim mentality even while growing up in the Jim Crow South. He was able to overcome poverty and racism by receiving a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Morehouse College and a master's degree in computer science from Purdue. One of his first jobs after graduating was in the area of rocket guidance.
Wanting to succeed on different levels, he left to work for Coca-Cola, and then the Pillsbury Corporation, where he eventually became vice president of corporate systems and services. It was during this time that the theme of the book becomes apparent, "CEO of Self," in which he makes his own decisions with confidence and focus to achieve his immediate goals.
Although he enjoyed many triumphs at Pillsbury, including being presented the Pillsbury Company's Symbol of Excellence in Leadership Award, Cain challenged himself to strive for more, to be a president of a corporation. In the book, he described the decision: "So as CEO of Self, after several successful years as vice president of Pillsbury's corporate systems and services, I knew that I had to dream higher. ... my path to becoming President of a business unit lay within one of Pillsbury's rapidly growing restaurant companies...my going to Burger King would mean the loss of my hard-earned, and much coveted, vice presidential title; a significant initial drop in salary; loss of stock options[.]"
He went into a 400-store Burger King operating company, learning the fundamentals, working as a crewmember, being responsible for putting buns and patties on the broiler, eventually becoming regional vice president of Burger King. Wanting yet another challenge, to be CEO, he left Burger King to become the CEO of Godfather's Pizza.
While giving an inspirational message to Godfather Pizza employees, Cain's philosophy came out loud and clear when he stated, "There are generally three kinds of people in the world. People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who say, 'What in the heck happened.'" American Thinker asked Cain which one of these types he was and which type was President Obama. He commented, "I have always been a make things happen kind of person, that is what leaders do. The leader's job is to ensure that he is working on the right problems, that he is setting the right priorities, and that he has surrounded himself with the right people. The leader's responsibility is to facilitate, coach, encourage, and inspire, which is how I make things happen. We don't have that type of person in the White House right now. In the case of President Obama, when he is asking 'whom should I blame,' he is asking what happened? Unfortunately, 40% (President Obama's approval rating) of the American people are clueless by not seeing the failure of this president and his policies."
Cain has definitely encouraged and inspired those with debilitating diseases, as evidenced in the middle portion of the book, where he discusses his battle and current victory over colon cancer. He offers a detailed description of his experiences. For those critics who say that more than likely the cancer will come back, he points out that no one knows what lies ahead for them, which brings a famous saying to mind: "man plans and G-d laughs.'
In the last chapters, he talks about "The Cain Doctrine," explaining his stand on the critical issues of today. Because the book was published before the 9-9-9 plan was released, there is no mention of it. Cain was asked about the fairness of this plan, since there are some states, such as California, with a high sales tax. He explained, "You are going to pay the California taxes regardless of what the federal tax structure is, so take that out of the equation. I can't change that; only state law can change the state tax. The 9-9-9 plan has to be looked at as a replacement for the current tax code. Most families, 95% and more, will have money left over. A lot of people will not do the math. If you buy used items, you will not pay sales tax, which will allow you to minimize the amount of sales tax spent. Everyone is given more flexibility and leverage for them to decide how to stretch their dollars. It is not regressive for the poor, but it liberates the poor."
Mr. Cain is vague in certain areas of the book, especially foreign policy, and when he does discuss what he will do, he falls short on the "how." For example, he says in the book that a way to deal with China is to "outgrow them," but he neglects to say how it would be accomplished. There is no mention of how he would handle rogue states that sponsor terrorism like Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan. When asked about this apparent weakness in foreign policy, he responded, "I may not have a lot of direct foreign policy experience, but I have a lot more common sense than this president. I have a philosophy that is an extension of the Reagan philosophy: peace through strength, and I have added clarity. Today, what we lack most is clarity, who are our friends and who are our enemies. Look at all the presidents elected: how many have had extensive or any foreign policy experience? What I know how to do is rely on the experts [whom he did not want to name], listen to them, and push back to make sure I am given the information needed to make the necessary judgment calls."
Mr. Cain is definitely someone who should be respected and admired for his many life achievements. In certain areas such as the economy he should be applauded for at least stepping up to the plate and coming up with his 9-9-9 plan and a plan to replace Social Security. However, if he is to be considered a true frontrunner, he must be a "whole candidate." In these perilous times, it is important to understand a candidate's detailed visions and views on national security and foreign policy -- something Mr. Cain has yet to provide in detail.