Herman Cain Should Pivot to Politician

Recently, Herman Cain has been mentioned as a front runner in the bid for the Republican presidential nominee and the white hot political spotlight has been focused on him.  This was not unexpected and if the front runner can’t withstand the scrutiny in a primary then he doesn’t deserve the nomination.  With so much riding on the 2012 Presidential election, the Republican voters require a thorough vetting process for each and every legitimate candidate – which is why I enjoy a large number of debates.   The increased spotlight has levied three main attacks on Cain over the past week and I’ll detail those in this post and offer an explanation as to why Cain has stumbled.      

The first attack was regarding his 999 Plan and this was not only predictable but needed.  The 999 Plan, while simply stated, requires a great deal of conversation and mathematics to determine the validity of the plan.  Reducing corporate taxes and Income taxes with an offset of an additional National Sales tax can’t be embraced with a quick bullet point scan of its contents.  Many Americans have dug into these details and after doing so they have embraced it and Cain vaulted to the lead in many polls.  His opponents had to attack him on this and sure enough, they hammered him in the first 20 minutes of the Las Vegas debate.  I happen to like the 999 Plan (which is really a transition plan to an eventual Flat Tax approach) and I performed my own analysis of this plan here and here.  This analysis, Cain’s performance in the Las Vegas debate and the fact the Rick Perry recently decided to reveal his own Flat Tax plan confirms to me that this plan is still valid and is what we need in America.

The second attack also occurred at the Las Vegas debate but started in an interview with Wolf Blitzer before the debate where Cain stated that he’d be open to a similar trade of terrorist prisoners for an American soldier hostage.  You can watch the video for yourself but it does appear to me that Cain was open to the idea of negotiating with terrorists for hostage transfers.  Negotiating with terrorists is a bad policy which is very unpopular with most of America and while Cain appeared to walk that back in response to questions during the debate, I was not convinced. 

The third attack occurred during an interview with Piers Morgan when he was asked about his position on Abortion.  Again, Cain seemed to talk around the topic and take both sides of the issue (being 100% pro-life but not willing to allow the US government to get involved in preventing the murder of unborn children).  After watching that interview I was confused on his position and I’m sure most of America was as well.

Cain’s problems with answering ‘gotcha’ questions on hypothetical scenarios seems to be systemic  for him and he needs to fix it quickly if he wants to stay in contention for the Republican nominee because the Media now smells blood in the water and they will continue to pepper him with these foreign policy and social issues questions.  It seems odd that someone who gives straight answers in an eloquent manner about his vision for American and his 999 plan would seem to stammer on the ‘gotcha’ questions.  I think I know why Cain stumbles in this area and let me explain below.

Cain is not a politician and has spent his professional life as a business leader.  A CEO is a type of leader who is not used to responding within seconds to problems without first consulting his leadership team in order to get all sides of the issue before making a decision.  CEO’s know that all problems are unique and cookie cutter solutions are rarely used in a complicated business environment.  Cain attempted to state that fact in the Blitzer interview by saying he was not privy to all the details that led to the Israeli hostage swap decision and while this was a wise response, people are not accustomed to hearing politicians speak in this manner.  It is true that we don’t know what led Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and a CEO-type leader would not be quick to condemn Netanyahu before learning of the details of the problem.  Still, negotiating with terrorists is bad and Cain should have had his response crisper so that his true position was communicated. 

On the abortion question, Cain released a clarifying statement and I’ve pasted that below for your review so you can draw your own conclusions.  I happen to take the viewpoint I think was espoused by Cain – while I believe that human life starts at conception and aborting a fetus is equivalent to murder, I have an issue with the government telling someone what to do with that baby in the instance of rape or when the life of the mother is at stake.  Those scenarios represent a very small portion of the population of Abortions that are performed in America and while that can be characterized as a Straw Man argument, a person running for President needs to have his message clear and in a package that can be communicated in less than 60 seconds.   Abortion is a tough subject and there is a reason that America still struggles with this issue but that is no excuse for a Presidential candidate to not have a clear stance that he can communicate.

I would prefer a President to act like a CEO when attacking an issue and get as much data he can from his advisors and experts in the field before making a decision.  That is how the person should perform while occupying the job of President but while the person is campaigning for that job, he needs to act differently.  Politicians are used to being grilled in press conferences and they have their story tight and stick to talking points because interviews are not the place for long, thoughtful discourse.  Cain needs to sharpen up his policy positions and be prepared for the next ‘gotcha’ question or he’ll fade in the polls and be left holding out for a VP offer from the eventual nominee.   

 

Regarding Piers Morgan and the Abortion Question

Dear Friends,

The abortion issue is very serious. I believe strongly that this is true, and I believe that you do too.

Because the news media loves to make mountains out of mole hills, I want to be very clear about where I stand on abortion:

I am 100% pro-life, period.

Let me explain. In an interview yesterday with Piers Morgan on CNN, I was asked questions about abortion policy and the role of the President.

If you listen to the line of questioning, it is clear that Mr. Morgan was asking if I, as president, would simply “order” people to not seek an abortion.

My answer was focused on the role of the President. The President has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone. That was the point I was trying to convey.

As to my political view on abortion…again, I am pro-life. End of story.

As President, I will appoint judges who understand the original intent of the Constitution. Judges who are committed to the rule of law know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children.

I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood. I will do everything that a President can do, consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life.

Friends, please know that I appreciate all of your support. Together, we will put America back on the right track.

Sincerely,

Herman Cain

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