Watching Herman Cain

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Presidential candidate Herman Cain has enlivened the Republican field. Known for running a pizza company and his catchy 9-9-9 tax plan, Cain has caught much attention. He briefly held a polling lead, only to see some support lost amidst accusations of sexual harassment.

Herman Cain is widely referred to as one of the better and more polished candidates in front of the camera; when Cain does an interview, he comes out as supposedly more likeable.

Several weeks ago, I had my first opportunity to watch Cain actually speak (on the television, of course). It wasn’t a very special speech, merely another normal interview. This one was on the Hannity Show.

Indeed, Cain did seem well-spoken in the interview. The media often refers to him as folksy but lacking seriousness; to me, however, he seemed very serious (a lot more serious and less prone to joking than I’d previously anticipated given his media image). Nothing, in fact, differentiated him from any other serious Republican candidate. He didn’t make a joke.

The media also states that Cain is very prone to talking about his 9-9-9 tax plan; every time Cain answers a question, he supposedly is able to magically switch the topic to 9-9-9. However, I didn’t hear Cain mention 9-9-9 once in the interview.

Finally, the media states that Cain has a talent for dodging questions, or rather a skill in transforming a ridiculous assertion into a perfectly reasonable-sounding point. I got to see Cain do this in action when Hannity questioned him about why he was visiting Tennessee rather than another more important early primary state. The implication was that Cain wasn’t really campaigning seriously for president. In response, Cain went on a very convincing deflection about the importance of southern states in the early primaries. I would have been perfectly convinced myself if I had known less about the primary process.

All-in-all, watching Cain was a very interesting experience. Seeing him talk on television for the first time was a lot different from the expectation of what he’d be like that I’d  created from the media.

 

 

Watching Herman Cain

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Presidential candidate Herman Cain has enlivened the Republican field. Known for running a pizza company and his catchy 9-9-9 tax plan, Cain has caught much attention. He briefly held a polling lead, only to see some support lost amidst accusations of sexual harassment.

Herman Cain is widely referred to as one of the better and more polished candidates in front of the camera; when Cain does an interview, he comes out as supposedly more likeable.

Several weeks ago, I had my first opportunity to watch Cain actually speak (on the television, of course). It wasn’t a very special speech, merely another normal interview. This one was on the Hannity Show.

Indeed, Cain did seem well-spoken in the interview. The media often refers to him as folksy but lacking seriousness; to me, however, he seemed very serious (a lot more serious and less prone to joking than I’d previously anticipated given his media image). Nothing, in fact, differentiated him from any other serious Republican candidate. He didn’t make a joke.

The media also states that Cain is very prone to talking about his 9-9-9 tax plan; every time Cain answers a question, he supposedly is able to magically switch the topic to 9-9-9. However, I didn’t hear Cain mention 9-9-9 once in the interview.

Finally, the media states that Cain has a talent for dodging questions, or rather a skill in transforming a ridiculous assertion into a perfectly reasonable-sounding point. I got to see Cain do this in action when Hannity questioned him about why he was visiting Tennessee rather than another more important early primary state. The implication was that Cain wasn’t really campaigning seriously for president. In response, Cain went on a very convincing deflection about the importance of southern states in the early primaries. I would have been perfectly convinced myself if I had known less about the primary process.

All-in-all, watching Cain was a very interesting experience. Seeing him talk on television for the first time was a lot different from the expectation of what he’d be like that I’d  created from the media.

 

 

A Surprising Difference Between Rick Perry and George W. Bush

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

Texas Governor Rick Perry has just entered the 2012 Republican primary, and already the governor is shaking things up. Mr. Perry has jumped to the top of the polls, neck-in-neck with former Governor Mitt Romney.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Perry’s quick rise has invited comparisons to former President George W. Bush. Both, after all, were or are Republican governors of the state of Texas. Both speak with the same Texas drawl. Democrats will be quick to embellish these similarities, attacking Mr. Perry as a clone of the unpopular Mr. Bush.

There is, however, one surprising difference between the two Texas governors.

Rick Perry has campaigned as a proud conservative warrior. He gained national attention for suggesting, mostly as a political ploy, that Texas could secede from the union. He has called the Federal Reserve as acting “treasonous.”  He hosted a prayer rally for the nation just before announcing his candidacy. In the few days since he has declared his candidacy, Mr. Perry has thrown out more red meat than the Republican field has seen for months.

In 2000, on the other hand, Governor George W. Bush campaigned as a moderate. This may surprise a number of people, especially those whose opinion of Mr. Bush is more negative. But it’s the truth: Mr. Bush played much on the theme of “compassionate conservatism” in 2000. In the area of foreign policy, he promised an end to the foreign “misadventures” that the Clinton administration was so fond of getting into. Mr. Bush spent much time talking about the bipartisan success he’d had working with the Democratic Texas legislature. He promised to continue doing this as president.

Of course, the events of September 11th fundamentally upturned Mr. Bush’s presidency; after that, he spoke no longer about compassionate conservatism. Who knows what Mr. Bush might have done had America not been attacked then.

Be as that may, the fact remains that Mr. Bush and Mr. Perry campaigned and are campaigning on two very different themes. Mr. Perry is advertising himself as a conservative firebrand. Mr. Bush advertised himself as a “compassionate conservative.” The two are very different themes, and observers of the 2012 Republican primary may well be advised to pay attention to the difference.

 

 

Why Mitt Romney Shouldn’t Ignore Iowa

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney has embarked upon an utterly stupid political strategy: ignore Iowa, the first voting state in the 2012 Republican primary. As Frank Bruni of the New York Times puts it:

If the Iowa Republican debate were to provide a truly accurate mirror of the race at this juncture, Tim Pawlenty would wear a sandwich board, with a scrawled plea to the state’s voters: “Save me.” Michele Bachmann would spin onto the stage in a giant teacup, to find a microphone three times the size of anyone else’s and a spotlight four times as bright. Newt Gingrich, looking characteristically put out, would unveil a new campaign slogan: “The Glower for This Hour.”

And the party’s most likely nominee, Mitt Romney? He wouldn’t show. The less seen of him, after all, the better.

That’s not my harsh assessment. That’s been his de facto campaign strategy this summer.

Mr. Romney is following this strategy due to his failure to win Iowa during the 2008 Republican primary. After spending enormous amounts of time and money on the state, Mr. Romney found himself outflanked by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Despite running a number of negative ads on Mr. Huckabee, the former Massachusetts governor lost the primary by a considerable margin. Crucial to his loss was the perception of Mr. Romney as a flip-flopper who wasn’t a true conservative.

So this time the candidate is ignoring Iowa.

Unfortunately, Mr. Romney simply cannot ignore Iowa, whatever he may wish. If he does so, then he will certainly lose the state. No state likes to be ignored, and Mr. Romney is weak in Iowa already.

Most probably, either Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann or Governor Rick Perry will win Iowa if Mr. Romney does not compete. A victory in Iowa will then set up either candidate as the Republican alternative to Mr. Romney. The media pays huge amounts of attention to the Iowa caucuses. Whoever wins them, if Mr. Romney does not, will instantly be catapulted into national attention. And, given Mr. Romney’s weaknesses on consistency, there’s a very good chance that he will lose the nomination to them.

So Mr. Romney shouldn’t ignore Iowa. He has to compete; if he wins, than he can eliminate the threat to his candidacy early on. If he loses, he’ll more likely than not lose the nomination.

It’s a tough choice. Mr. Romney will more likely than not lose Iowa even if he does spend the next few months of his life campaigning in the state.

Once again Mr. Romney’s problems fundamentally boil down to the fact that he is a terrible politician. Given the weakness of the current Republican field, by all rights Mr. Romney should be leading his opposition by double-digits. And if he were doing that, then Governor Rick Perry would never have joined the field in the first place.

Unfortunately, there is little that Mr. Romney can do about this anymore. The only thing that he can do at this point is to stop ignoring the most important caucus in the nation.

 

 

Don’t Overrate Barack Obama’s Campaign

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

In the 2008 presidential election, Senator John McCain ran the better campaign.

This statement goes strongly against conventional wisdom. After all, President Barack Obama’s campaign is widely praised by the media for its masterful turn-out operation and other achievements. This is, of course, because Mr. Obama won the election. Winning candidates, by definition, are almost always considered to have run the better campaign. (Quick: name a losing politician who ran a better campaign than his opponent.)

In fact there were two things that propelled Mr. Obama to victory in 2008, and neither of them had to do with his campaign apparatus. The first was the political environment. Mr. Obama had the fortune of running after a two-term unpopular Republican administration. He did this, moreover, in the midst of a financial meltdown for which blame went to said administration. It’s hard to lose an election under those circumstances.

Secondly, Mr. Obama was a more attractive candidate than Mr. McCain. He was younger, he looked better on camera, he gave much better speeches. Mr. Obama had a magnetism that could attract crowds numbering greater than 100,000. His opponent simply didn’t have that.

But Mr. Obama’s campaign itself wasn’t actually that amazing. It was a fairly conservative operation that took things very safe. The campaign tried to be very cautious, avoiding any risky and exciting maneuvers. This happened under the principle that the senator probably was going to win anyways – so a boring, conventional campaign was much safer than a risky, unconventional one. It’s hard to fault his operation for this conclusion, because Mr. Obama did in fact win.

It was Senator John McCain’s campaign that took risks and made headlines. In many ways his campaign was better than Mr. Obama’s. It won more of the daily media battles until the financial crisis – and there was nothing it could really do about that. It ran better ads. How many Obama ads do you remember, for instance? What about McCain ads? I bet a lot of people remember this one.

Mr. McCain’s campaign also made the more memorable moves. It selected an unforgettable Vice Presidential nominee (in contrast, Mr. Obama once again took the safe route in picking Senator Joe Biden). It famously promised to suspend its campaign in the midst of the financial meltdown. Some of these moves worked; some of them didn’t. But they were very rational moves to take; there was simply no way Mr. McCain could have won in 2008 without taking enormous, risky gambles.

Mr. Obama’s campaign is widely credited for bringing many young and African-American voters to the polls who otherwise wouldn’t have shown up. But those voters came not because of the campaign, but because of Mr. Obama himself. If the entire campaign operation had remained the same, but Senator Barack Obama had been replaced by Senator John Kerry, how many of those people would have shown up?

The moral of this analysis is not to overrate the Obama campaign. There was a Democratic wave in 2008, and Mr. Obama’s campaign deserves credit for riding that wave with the help of a very gifted politician. But to say that ”Obama put together one of the most impressive campaign operations of all time” is a big exaggeration.

 

 

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