Politics

The Case Against Raising Cain

Herman Cain‘s star is rising. The unexpected Florida straw poll smash victory by Cain has led to voters taking a second look at the former pizza entrepreneur.
   
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that Cain has risen into a tie for second place with the falling Rick Perry — each claiming a 16 percent share of GOP voters.
   
A solid 25 percent of GOP voters just like Gov. Mitt Romney. He seems to have a solid base that neither rises nor falls.
   
The other 75 percent of GOP voters are in search of a candidate with whom to fall in love.
    
And surely there’s a lot to love about Herman Cain. He talks bluntly but with a kind, grandfatherly edge. An incredibly successful CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, he hails from Atlanta, the mecca of the old black elites, and is a graduate of Morehouse, the black Harvard.
   
He was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He has an evangelical flavor but a gentler, Georgian drawl to Perry’s Texas brawl. Cain is also, naturally, utterly untaintable by charges of racism that still hang about the Southern evangelicals in the GOP base, at least in the minds of New Englanders.
   
Cain is unashamed to talk about God, but he talks now mostly about his 9-9-9 economic plan.
   
A 9 percent federal sales tax is arguably unconstitutional, and almost certainly in reality a very bad idea for conservatives: Hidden taxes make it easier for government to grow.
   
Cain bashed President Obama for failing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, but has never clearly said whether he supports a federal marriage amendment.
   
He brags that he has never held public office, but that’s not for want of trying.
   
He ran for president briefly in 2000, but dropped out and endorsed Steve Forbes.
   
In 2004, he lost a Republican primary for the GOP senate seat opened up by the retirement of Zell Miller.
   
He’s been married for 43 years and has two children and three grandchildren. He is an associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church North — the church he joined at age 10.
   
He can sing gospel. He survived stage 4 liver and colon cancer.
   
He has given some fairly bad early interviews that nobody paid attention to when he was under 5 percent in the polls. At the American Principles Project’s Palmetto Freedom Forum over Labor Day, he unconcernedly refused to answer many reporters’ questions about Afghanistan because he said he didn’t know the answers. He couldn’t have enough information until he became president to decide his foreign policy, he said, but promised to do what the generals advised.
    
A friend told me that an early interview on the pro-life issues was not posted because it seemed so embarrassing to Cain, who couldn’t remember the name of an organization he was willing to defund.
   
He refused to sign the Susan B. Anthony pro-life pledge because he said he objected on federalist grounds to a federal fetal pain protection bill.
   
He refused to sign the National Organization for Marriage’s marriage pledge for, well, no particular reason he could articulate. Something about it being Congress’ job to propose legislation, not the executive.
   
In an interview at the APP debate in South Carolina, Cain personally told me he could support a federal marriage amendment, but in his first debate in New Hampshire he seemed to have joined Ron Paul in opposing a federal marriage amendment, saying he would leave the issue up to the states.
   
He is our Obama. An untested candidate with a golden tongue; a blank slate upon whom we can hang our dreams –and fantasies.
   
Social conservatives, be wary.

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