Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Once-rising Herman Cain may soon fizzle

The flavor of the month in the Republican presidential primary is starting to look a lot like an anchovy pizza at Godfather’s: Tasty to a core group, but a turnoff to everyone else.

Pizza magnate Herman Cain’s sudden rise in the polls was driven by GOP voters looking for someone more charismatic than Mitt Romney and more conservative than Rick Perry. His business acumen, his conservative credentials and his plainspokenness drove his popularity up quickly.

But as with many politicians on both sides of the aisle, the more the public sees of him, the less appetizing he becomes. He has repeatedly revealed his lack of understanding of key issues. Equally troubling is his penchant for insisting on declaring things that don’t square with the facts.

Cain knows little about foreign policy, and surely voters cringed when he revealed that before and during Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Cain if he could imagine as president giving in to an al-Qaida demand to free all of the hundreds of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for freeing one American soldier.

“I could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer, but what I would do is, I would make sure that I got all of the information, I got all of the input, considered all of the options,” Cain replied. “And then the president has to be the president and make a judgment call. I could make that call if I had to.”

Hours later, Cain denied that he had said what he said. Moderator Anderson Cooper asked him to explain his answer to Blitzer.

“Let me say this first, I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists,” Cain said. Cooper pointed out that authorizing a transfer of Gitmo prisoners with al-Qaida is negotiating with terrorists.

“I don’t recall him saying that it was al-Qaida related,” Cain said.

So what’s worse: His willingness to free all Gitmo detainees in a negotiation with al-Qaida, or his denial that he said what he had just said?

Cain didn’t do much better defending his “9-9-9” tax plan. He was adamant that his plan wouldn’t raise taxes on lower- and middle-income people. That “simply is not true,” he said.

But the Tax Policy Center, a respected independent, nonpartisan group founded by tax experts from the Reagan, Bush I and Clinton administrations, analyzed Cain’s plan and said 84 percent of taxpayers would pay higher taxes. The National Review, the conservative bible, called the 9-9-9 plan “bold, brash and wrong” and said its “substantive weaknesses” “render it unworthy of conservative support.”

Cain’s “I-didn’t-say-that” routine continued on illegal immigration. First he said he would build an electrified fence all along the U.S.-Mexican border. He later said he was kidding. Then he doubled back and said “It might be electrified. I’m not walking away from that. I just don’t want to offend anyone.”

Cain flip-flopped also on the TARP bailout, but at least admitted to that one. He said at the debate: “I supported the concept of TARP, but then, when this administration used discretion and did a whole lot of things that the American people didn’t like, I was then against it. So yes, and I’m owning up to that.”

Cain’s still doing well in the polls, including in early-primary-state South Carolina. After his performance Tuesday and elsewhere, you have to wonder if that will soon change.

Taylor Batten, on behalf of the editorial board


Wiley Coyote said...

None of the Republican candidates could do any worse than Obama....

ktown8 said...

Please tell me what experience Community Organizer Obama had on foreign policies!?! Hell, Obama never even held an executive position. The continued lack of double standards continues to amaze me! At least Cain had executive experience!

Regan Rules! said...

I saw a great bumper sticker the other day. It reads like this:
"If you voted for Obama to prove you are not racist, then vote for Cain to prove you're not stupid!"

John said...

You'd like that wouldn't you Taylor? Then you could go comfortably back you the typical media assumption that Republican and Conservative automatically equals Racist.

You think you know us, but you don't.

I'd suggest you take your dramamine because you're going to find it a bumpy ride!