Down with Politics!

by John Derbyshire

I have spoken and written approvingly of Herman Cain, on Radio Derb and here. A fair quantity of e-mail has come back in response, with all points of view represented.

One theme I’ve noticed, though, is a generalized loathing of politicians. There’s always some of that about, but it seems particularly strong right now in the e-mail bag, and it helps Cain.

Mona Charen wrote a piece a few days ago, warmish on Cain but pointing out his lack of political experience:

But, as historian and political analyst Richard Brookhiser put it, about Pat Robertson in the 1988 presidential election, “The presidency is not an entry-level position.” It isn’t that Cain lacks the stature to be president, but he lacks the kind of experience the office requires. Though we perpetually disparage politicians in America (for good reasons much of the time), it cannot be denied that political skills are necessary in a political job.

That’s all true, of course; but I gotta tell you, Mona, that for a lot of Republicans, Cain’s lack of political background is a feature, not a bug.

So they say, anyway. Campaign-wise, the real problem with not having been around politics much is that it leaves you more prone to the kinds of gaffes that can destroy a candidacy. Cain has to get through the next ten months without stepping on any of the landmines that a candidate seasoned by years of campaigning knows instinctively to avoid. And the cruelly unfair thing is that if from sheer political naïvety you step on one of those suckers, all those voters who told the pollster they hate politicians will cheer along with the rest as your body parts fly across the landscape.

Also on Cain, I thought Dick Morris made a good point on O’Reilly last night. Yeah, yeah, Dick Morris, I know; but it was a good point. Small businessmen, said Morris, feel they’re being crushed between, on the one side, too-big-to-fail corporate and financial behemoths, and on the other, goverment regulatory busybodies. They are a natural constituency for Cain, whose executive experience they can relate to.

Cain’s biggest asset, though, is his affect. He’s sunny. People know the country’s in a heck of a mess, but they’d still prefer to hear it from someone sunny. We were in a heck of a mess in 1980, too.

Bottom line, Herb: Less effort on selling the book, more on selling your candidacy, and trying to pick up some landmine-detection instincts.

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