Sunday, November 13, 2011

Herman Cain: “Performance Art Project;” Serious Candidate for President; Author, gathering material for his next book; or Motivational Speaker Seeking to Increase his Value on the Lecture Circuit? You decide.

The concept of Herman Cain is an interesting one. If we accept the premise that he may earn the Republican nomination and run against President Obama next year, there are certainly some hard questions that we need to ask: Do we want an individual with absolutely no government experience in the highest office in the land? Really?  Even in our current state of disillusionment? Do we want someone who has the potential character issues that the revelations of the last few weeks have potentially uncovered?

I am not sure we want to turn the reins of the US over to someone so woefully unqualified for the job. I know we totally distrust the current set of folks in various elected offices, and they have the lowest approval ratings they have ever had. Whether we “throw all the bums out,” next November will remain to be seen. I have to remain hopeful that we do not turn that distrust into a collectively stupid decision to throw in a rookie when a seasoned quarterback is required. I have to think the American voting populace is smarter, that we realize that the person we place in that office will have to have at least some knowledge of how government works, and have some experience working with some of the players already in the game. Even the last president we elected who had not served in other elected office, Dwight D Eisenhower, had worked in some capacity with the people in Washington before, so we weren’t sending in a total rookie. He was new to that team, but he had played the game before. Herman Cain has not.  It is interesting to note that Eisenhower was courted by both the Democrats and the Republicans to be their candidate. He chose the Republicans because his experience had shown him that they were the party with stronger support of the military. By the end of his presidency, he had changed his mind, giving his famous address on the dangers of the "military industrial complex." In fact, we get that turn of phrase from that very address. President Eisenhower would barely recognize the Republican party today since it has very little resemblance to the Republican party he joined.

Questions of character plague Cain, even if his inexperience in government does not. There are questions regarding possible abuses of power in past positions. Statements he makes now show that some of those questions may be valid ones. The current statements from his campaign, “go ahead, come forward to accuse me of sexual harassment and make my day,” show that it is within Cain’s character to be heavy handed and threatening. His consistent use of disparaging terms to refer to women  in highly regarded positions, specifically using the term “Princess Pelosi,” on more than one occasion to refer to current House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi; exposes that it is well within his character to have a disrespectful view of women in general, and specifically of women in the workplace. This lends credibility to the sexual harassment allegations made in recent weeks. 

A person who claims that none of these things are true does not use these terms; that person uses the standard terms of respect, even if he does not like the current (or former) officeholder. Bob Schieffer in his recent interview with Newt Gingrich showed the appropriate decorum and addressed Mr Gingrich using, “Mr Speaker,” even though it has been more than 12 years since Mr Gingrich has held that position, and in fact, left the position due to scandal. Mr Cain should have done the same when referring to Rep Pelosi, and either addressed her as “former Speaker Pelosi,” or “Speaker Pelosi.” Regardless of how he feels about Ms Pelosi’s politics; she earned that position, and is deserving of the same respect for having earned it as any previous Speaker of the House.

Even if we decide that Mr Cain is acceptable, despite the previously discussed issues; we still have to address Mr Cain’s affiliations with the TEA Party, the Koch Brothers, The Heritage Foundation, Americans For Prosperity, and any other political organizations as we discover them.  Mr Cain’s employment with Americans For Prosperity is of greatest concern. If we are going to “throw the bums out,” we desperately need to replace them with people who are not beholden to the same lobby groups that current members of Congress are, including those who claim TEA party status.

Using this standard, Herman Cain does not qualify. He is cut from the same cloth as those we are dissatisfied with. He himself said that he “was a Koch brother from another mother and proud of it,” that statement didn't come from a political opponent. We need to take him at his word; that he will bring the Koch brothers’ agenda with him to the office of the president. We have seen that agenda: union busting, dismantling of any regulations that provide for the safety of workers, consumers, or the general public, total disregard for the health and well being of future generations; a set of political goals contrary to desires of the vast majority of Americans, and we do not agree with it. The results of the 2011 elections, recalling and repealing those actions taken by the elected officials who were bought and paid for by the Koch brothers or affiliated Political Action Committees proves that.

We have a moral and ethical standard as a people that calls for us to be thankful for those who sacrificed so that we may live so well, and a basic understanding that the only payment owed to them is to “pay it forward,” onto the next generation and beyond.  We fell asleep on that job, and let the Koch brothers and other like minded individuals steal the narrative. We allowed them: the Koch brothers, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Focus on the Family, Tom Lycus, Rush Limbaugh, the whole of the Fox contributors ... unchecked and unchallenged.... to spew their venom of despair to such a degree that our young people believe what they have heard consistently for the last 30 years.  That they will be the first generation that will not have a life better than their parents', that we have let them down, abandoned them, made like “Billy Joe and Bobby Sue:” and left them out in the cold without a future. Let’s show the Koch brothers, others of their ilk and our young people that they are all wrong. That we see Herman Cain and others of his ilk for what they are: Koch brothers puppets, representatives of the top 400, and not the “anti-Washington answer,” that we are looking for.  There is hope and prosperity in our future.

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