Is Herman Cain the Answer?
Whenever I see the inane bumper sticker War Is Not the Answer, I always think: That depends on what the question is. If Roosevelt had answered the real question posed to him by the Japanese 70 years ago according to the bumper sticker, then the idiot who pasted the sticker on his bumper would likely not have had the freedom to do so. If the Israelis had answered the actual question posed to them by Nasser in May 1967 according to the bumper sticker, there would be no Israel today. Similarly, the answer to the query in the title depends on the exact question.
The short form of the question is obviously: Who should the Republicans nominate to oppose Obama in 2012? For me -- a staunch conservative -- the long and much more important and meaningful form of the question is formulated as follows:
The US has been listing left for a hundred years, drifting away from a constitutional Republic devoted to individual liberty, free markets and limited government by the consent of the governed toward a statist society of forced equality, shared economic misery and unlimited, unresponsive government. Following a brief (and temporary) course correction under Reagan, we have continued our inexorable slide toward socialistic oblivion under the two Bushes, Clinton and especially under Obama. There have been signs in the last two years that a significant percentage of the electorate has finally awakened to the existence of the cliff toward which we are speeding. The next election provides a chance -- perhaps the final chance -- to irrevocably halt the mad dash to the edge and then to restore America back to its original political/cultural roots and traditions. Is Herman Cain the Moses we so desperately seek to lead us back to the promised land?
The odds may be slim, but I believe that the United States has the opportunity to effect a fundamental course correction next year. It is possible that the people might elect a truly conservative President and supply him with a sufficiently conservative Congress so that together they could halt the leftward drift and set the country on a more traditional course. It may be that enough of the electorate is actually ready to bring this about. Reagan would have done it a generation ago, but he lacked the requisite companion Congress and the people had not sufficiently awakened to the gravity of the progressive threat. Today the conditions are more ripe.
One thing is clear: Mitt Romney is not Moses. Of course he would be immeasurably better than Obama. But it is absolutely certain that he desires to be president not in order to answer the question in the form that I posed it. While his instincts might be more conservative than liberal, Romney is a "big government Republican," another Bush or McCain, who:
- has no appreciation for the perilous course that our nation has traveled in the 20th century;
- thinks that Obama pushed the wrong levers rather than sought to radically transform the nature of the country;
- and who will do no more than briefly arrest the country's mad dash to the left, while leaving intact the socialist infrastructure to be further ratcheted up by the next Social Democrat that succeeds him.
Make no mistake -- there are people out there who understand the perilous state in which we find ourselves and who might formulate and implement a program to rescue the nation. People like Jim DeMint or Mike Pence come to mind. Paul Ryan perhaps. But they are not running. Who among those actually running might be our Moses? As I said, Romney definitely is not. And the people know it. That's why, despite his advantage in experience, organization, money and recognition, he can't break away from the pack. Who then is the answer? Certainly not Huntsman -- another faux conservative. Not Paul -- an extreme libertarian whose opinions on national security and social morality are frightening.
That leaves five: Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Perry and Santorum. In fact, I believe that each of those five understands the horrible drift of the country over the last century and would be determined to reverse it. So which of them should be Moses? Well, none of them is a perfect redeemer. And our American Idol style of selecting a nominee has exposed the warts in each of them. Santorum is severely damaged goods. His overwhelming loss in his Senate re-election run in 2008 makes him a sure loser. No one is taking him seriously; his poll numbers are anemic; he would do us a favor by joining Pawlenty on the sidelines. When the Idol process began, Bachmann raced to the front. But then, apparently due to her relative inexperience and her permanent "deer in the headlights" facial expression, the ardor for her cooled. Next to streak to the front was Rick Perry. But his feeble performance in several Idol rounds knocked him off the pedestal. Gingrich's numbers have not oscillated up and down like the previous two. In fact, he is clearly the sharpest tack in the bunch, but his track record of quixotic behavior and moral ambiguity gives pause. And so that leaves the Hermanator (a term that Cain uses for himself in his 2005 book). People like him and for the moment at least, he has leapt to the front of the Idol polls.
So what about Herman? Can he play the role of Moses? He has no money, no organization and no political experience. And there is something about him that suggests political naïveté. But his heart and, more importantly, his head seem to be in the right place. I just finished reading the 2005 book, which he wrote following his unsuccessful run for the Senate from Georgia in 2004. I believe that he understands what has happened to the country and would work assiduously to bring about a course correction that conservatives so fervently desire. Does he have the gravitas to pull it off? The last non-politician that the country elected president was Eisenhower -- who only commanded the most formidable army in the history of the world. Somehow CEO of Godfather's Pizza doesn't quite match up. But let us not forget that Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild and Lincoln's resume wasn't all that impressive either.
The dispatching of Obama and his replacement by a committed conservative is a paramount task for our nation. The choice we have for the leader who is to accomplish that task is limited to Romney and one of Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich or Perry. Romney might defeat Obama, but it will not herald the transformation that we seek. I believe that there is a reasonable chance that any of the latter four, if given the spear of leadership, might be up to the task. If Cain turns out to be the Idol selection, then I will support him enthusiastically and pray that he can deliver. Personally, I prefer Perry for reasons that I outlined in another article in this journal. But if the Hermanator gets the nod, then on the basis of what I have seen and read thus far, I can live with that and I will vote for him optimistically.