I have decided, after much soul searching on the subject, that the only answer to to our political stagnation and to the endless muckraking and game-playing of the liberal media is to stop playing by those rules – the rules of Washington and of beltway journalism. We are told by people in the know that Herman Cain is a political neophyte who doesn’t know how to play the game that he has entered now that he’s a front runner. And we see examples of it every day. He gets caught in trivial inconsistencies, screws up facts of minor relevance, delivers ads and soundbites that the media ravages, and leaves himself open to all kinds of silly gotcha games and political traps.
He’s given muddled interpretations of the geopolitical realities of OPEC, dropped the ball on dissecting China’s rising naval power, misrepresented his own views on gay marriage, abortion and gun control, gotten trapped defending himself against indefensibly limited allegations of sexual harassment which were settled to avoid legal expenses as is commonly the case in the business world and been shocked at some of the lines of questioning that the media have thrown at him on more than one occasion – lines that would be perfectly predictable to most who’ve been in politics for long enough.
And, you know, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have their share of experience and seem to be more skillful at playing the media’s games and surviving than the Hermanator. Perry was accused of a family history or racism, but that story lasted, oh…about five seconds. How in the world did he not get hit as hard as Cain is now on an even more baseless attack? Romney is being called Mittens and “Lucky” on the campaign trail because not one gosh-darned thing seems to stick to this guy. He’s made some gaffes too, but the media is playing aide on the trail for him…covering it over when he says that he fired his homestead staffers when he realized that some were illegal immigrants because “my God, I can’t have illegals working for me! I’m running for office!” He has yet to put forward a substantive idea on how to redress the tax code to help jump-start our economy. But the media wants him to be our nominee and he never gets the third degree as a result.
So why should we vote for anyone else? We need someone who can play the game, right? Mission #1 is to beat Obama! Or…we could realize that one of the easiest ways to be swayed into making a deal with the devil is to be convinced that the other way isn’t a viable alternative. Jesus was tested in that way. He passed. We aren’t.
Or maybe we are, at long last, passing that test. As Cain has gained attention and popularity we’ve heard it all. First, they tried to shut him out of the debates – at the Reagan library, he was given about five questions all night. He was portrayed (literally) as a pizza mogul with no experience at all…not someone to be taken seriously. And I fell for it…remarking in an annoyed tone to my girlfriend that when you looked at the stage, you found former House Speakers, Governors, Senators, and some guy who made a decent pizza and wondered what business he had running for President. Then when he forced them to take notice by appearing on all the talk and talking-head shows (and I do mean ALL the shows, even the ones that weren’t overtly political) for three straight weeks…we heard a different line of attack. He knew nothing about the world at large. And I bought it again. I said, on this very blog, that we couldn’t afford to run a candidate with such serious flaws and gaps in their thinking. And as he took his much needed crash course in global politics, he got more and more popular because right now…it’s the economy, stupid. Now we face the smear tactics of an increasingly desperate liberal media. And I’m hearing a new line of attack – he doesn’t handle the media well enough.
Well you know what? GOOD. The only way to give legitimacy to the media’s games is to play them. I think it’s about time we stopped playing by their rules and the rules of established party leadership. Fred Thompson – who was once a darling of the Conservative grassroots and who was also clobbered by the media and its – as Newt Gingrich famously quipped – Mickey Mouse games – wrote yesterday at the National Review online that Cain loyalists were seeing his mistakes and hearing all of the smears in the media and “writing checks to his campaign.” He went on to say that Cain “represents something that conservatives wish to protect” (I think, namely, that they wish to protect the belief that someone can rise to political power from the grassroots and not from inside the Beltway) and that attacking him is a losing game at this rare moment in American history as long as none of the attacks are allowed to stick.
Do we wish we had a better candidate? Do we think Cain has some big flaws? You betcha. But at this point, I think President Cain shouldn’t be a “lawmaker” anyway…I think he’s a hero – a champion – an icon. The ANTI-OBAMA icon. He comes from a poor, working class family like Obama, but his path of escape runs not through the ivory tower and community organizing and race riots but through business school and the executive board rooms of big corporations. He dealt with the same discrimination that Obama talks about facing in his book, but he lead by example, rather than by rhetoric and symbolic gesture. He came from the grassroots and caught political fire way more rapidly than anyone believed possible, but unlike Obama, his popularity came IN SPITE OF the media, rather than because of it. He champions ideas that seem implausible and likely need to be reworked in Congress…but unlike Obama, he won’t be bullying them through Congress and burning the Constitution to get them done if the real lawmakers find ways of reworking ideas he champions. He has an ENORMOUS personal magnetism and popularity like Obama did before his own actions unmasked him as a petty, petulant child and not a hero…but unlike Obama, his popularity is based on a plain-spoken, kindhearted, toothless rhetoric based on pure optimism and FAITH, not based on beautiful words elegantly used and an appeal against the general unpopularity of the Bush regime.
In short…we need Cain. We don’t need him to be a GREAT President…but we do need him to change the narrative…he is capable of putting a serious dent in the claims that the GOP is a good ole white boy network full of closet racists and class warfare denizens seeking to subjugate the poor in favor of the rich. All Cain needs to do is not burn the country down and to pass legislation in keeping with his general conservative beliefs and veto the stuff that fails to match those beliefs. That’s it. He needs to make sure his foreign policy team in the Oval Office is full of experienced military personnel and history wonks so he doesn’t get us blown up…and he needs to work hard on the economy…and suddenly, his more “hands off” approach will seem like a fresh drink of holy water to cure what ails Washington. We need a sign…something to rally the people to resist the narrative…someone effective, but not someone who necessarily needs to be perfect. Cain has been drafted for this role. And he’ll be getting my campaign contribution soon.