November 18, 2011

Cain "was showing us a candidate for the presidency of the United States desperately trying to retrieve a soundbite..."

"... and not even trying to hide the fact that he was trying to retrieve a soundbite. Because we're kind of all in on the game, and it is a game, right?"

Writes Peggy Noonan:
The reporter asked him if he agreed, in retrospect, with President Obama's decisions on Libya. Mr. Cain said, "OK, Libya." Ten seconds of now famous silence ensued. Then: "I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reasons." Another pause, and then: "Um, no, that's a different one."

He was saying: That's a different soundbite.

Later, with an almost beautiful defiance, Mr. Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "I'm not supposed to know anything about foreign policy." That's what staffers are for. "I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president [people say] you need to have the answer. No you don't! No you don't!"
But you do, Noonan says. For a GOP candidate to display comfort and even pride in how little he knows plays into the hands of Democrats, who love to argue that Republicans are "not really for anything, they just hate government." Why else would you "blithely dismiss the baseline requirements of a public office, as Mr. Cain does"?
The charge that Republicans just hate government carries other implications—that they're stupid, that they're haters by nature, that they're cynical and merely strategic, that they enjoy having phantom foes around whom to coalesce, like cavemen warming themselves around a fire.
Cavemen? Where did that come from? That seems unfair to cavemen (who were, I assume, very connected to reality and focused on doing what works). Anyway, you see the point. Republicans may favor limited government, but that requires competence too and they're going to lose the election if they don't realize that before it's too late.


Joe Schmoe said...

Ann, here's a proposition, and I'm not trying to go all Larry Summers on you. One of the positive aspects of feminism was to encourage women to explore life beyond that of a homemaker. One result is that all professional women in all walks of life have exclusively been groomed through the collegiate ranks. All have degrees, and as a result all have been inculcated in a system that values self-immersion into books and studies over practical and interpersonal experience. I know of no accomplished woman who has dropped out of high school and college and later become an industry titan a la Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc. Nothing wrong with that; just trying to discern a potential weakness in the college-at-all-costs approach.

Is it fair to conclude that women place too much emphasis on academic studies, and maybe that's why Noonan is upset with Cain? I'm not saying Cain doesn't deserve her scorn; but based on how both you and Noonan voted last election, clearly you place a lot of emphasis on someone you perceive as having a lot of academically-developed chops.

To anyone who has led people in an organization, Cain's approach, while maybe not the best for public consumption, shows an ability to delegate tasks to his staff, a critical skill for managers all the way up to CEOs. So while Noonan is repulsed by Cain's answer, others might see it as a managerial plus. Me personally, I think he should know a little more about foreign policy at this point, but I don't conclude like Noonan that things like this make the GOP look like haters and dunces.

Charlie said...

I picture the cavement sitting around the fire, clad in loincloth, as Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and Frederic Bastiat.

Tank said...

Putting aside their politics, there are in fact competent, knowledgeable people running for the GOP. Romney. Bachmann. Paul. Huntsman. Gingrich.

The meme that these people are not bright and competent and knowledgeable is nonsense.

GulfofMexico said...

She's right. Perry and Cain are guilty of being lazy about the whole thing. You've got to convince voters you want the job, if nothing else. If it's obvious you aren't putting in the time to learn then you are toast.

I suspect Cavemen knew what they were doing, though. Jeez, if they didn't they died. They worked at it, anyway.

traditionalguy said...

OK, then we should leave the teleprompter reader who is running a smooth criminal operation in a competent, if lawless manner in office.

Obama sells us out to foreign interests and destroys our government's integrity everywhere, very competently.

The Tea Party is a revolt against super competent thieves that are going along with Obama in DC until they get their chance to be him.

Destroying Cain is destroying the Tea Party's chance to change things. Gingrich and Romney will change nothing in DC. They will just re-direct the slush funds into the pockets of friends.

Therefore Peggy Noonan doesn't understood very much at all. She is incompetent.

Scott M said...

If it's obvious you aren't putting in the time to learn then you are toast.

This. I think these two guys are bright and smart, believing themselves quick enough on their feet to handle just about anything that gets thrown at them. However, the stakes that they're playing for couldn't be higher, so the pressure is higher than ever not to make a slip up. Combine that with a cavalier attitude toward studying all of the possible issues that might be brought up, simply because they've always been able to hold forth with reports in the past, and this is what you get.

GulfofMexico said...


You are correct, Romney and Gingrich won't change anything. Too bad Perry and Cain have thus far wasted their opportunities. It's disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Peggy Noonan?

Who cares.

bagoh20 said...

People like Noonan never question their own competence, despite being unable to support their own existence or survival without the apparatus built and maintained by their incompetent cavemen fellow citizens. They highly value tools that do no work other than support their facade.

Chip S. said...

I think the "cavemen" thing was a botched allusion to Plato..

bagoh20 said...

It's not that Cain is the leader some of us want, it's more that he is not the kind of guy we know has been and will continue to be a slow burning disaster.

There is a reason that some people are successful and able to fix broken things, and others are are not, regardless of credentials.

The poseurs can't understand it, they think it's luck, or simple, or inevitable, and then they get the job, and well, you see where we are now with that.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not supposed to know anything about foreign policy." That's what staffers are for.

Which is why I'm totally opposed to Cain. Everyone has an agenda. If he doesn't know what's going on in foreign policy, then he will get played and manipulated by advisers who have an agenda different from the one he would have if he knew what was going on.

The difference between ignorance and idiocy is that ignorance is curable. But that's the only real difference. Being willingly ignorant is just like being willingly an idiot.

I wouldn't support a candidate who routinely took LSD, and I won't be supporting Herman Cain.

edutcher said...

First, I stopped reading Peggy Noonan (and was barely paying attention to her) when she jumped on the GodZero bandwagon.

Second, I've been saying for weeks, Herman needs to hit the briefing book. If Mark Block is telling him he doesn't have to, he should get rid of Mark Block. If he doesn't want to do either, or both if that's the case, then he better drop out. The economy isn't the only problem this country has, thanks to the Boy King.

GulfofMexico said...

She's right. Perry and Cain are guilty of being lazy about the whole thing.

Disagree on the lazy. I think Herman's take is that the economy has to get solved first, and he can find good advisors for foreign policy (which is what most state governors do), but he can't ignore it.

Perry OTOH jumped in rather quickly and expected the fact he was the "jobs governor" to clear the way for him. That fell flat in the first debate, although Perry has been trying to put his ideas forth, including foreign policy, ever since, but it's clear he's been doing his homework.

traditionalguy said...

OK, then we should leave the teleprompter reader who is running a smooth criminal operation in a competent, if lawless manner in office.

I'd argue with competent.

The Crack Emcee said...

I love the idea of you criticizing another prominent white female Obama voter as though either of you rubes have any credibility in the subject of politics.

Simply hilarious.