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The 2012 Speculatron Weekly Roundup For October 21, 2011

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Herman Cain, as is his wont, loves to talk about how his experience as a guy who ran a pizza delivery business taught him that to be an effective leader, you have to be working on the right problem. Well, we've taken this to heart, after having it drummed into us at several debates, and we'd like to return the favor. Herman, the problem you have is that whether or not you got into this race as a for-real candidate for president -- and plenty of people doubt that you have! -- you really haven't thought this through, have you?

It sure seems like you haven't! What we've seen up until this week is a guy with an enviable amount of charisma and the knack for potent, zazzy public speaking who largely gets by on surface charms. You really thought your 999 Plan -- and we'll take you at your word that it didn't come from Sim City -- was going to get over on its easy-to-brand name and a steady dose of constant repetition, didn't you? You see, we suspected that you hadn't really worked through the mechanics when you declined to show your math and name your advisors. That was just strange. But you were exposed, I'm afraid, at this week's debate when a gang of professional politicians ganged up on you and put you through the ringer.

Yeah, there are a lot of people who subscribe to the belief that what government needs is someone from outside the Beltway community, and plenty of folks who come with that resume manage to score seats just fine downticket. But this is the presidential race, Herman. As Murray Head sang, don't you know that when you play at this level it's no ordinary venue? Say what you want about career politicians -- the fact is, they know that this game is pure combat and they know how to wield the weapons.

How quick was it, Herman? Ten minutes? You got knuckled up from all directions. Santorum was combative, Gingrich was patronizing (your heart was in the right place!), Perry was affable (I'll bump with ya, brother!), and then ol' Mitt just came at you with solid high school forensics. You never considered the fact that you'd be piling a new sales tax on Granite State residents? You should have. As soon as you tossed up your apple and oranges line, Mitt straight snatched your chain.

It took you a while to realize what had happened, didn't it? Well, that's becoming a thing, too. Take that mess you got into over abortion this week. We understand what you thought you were doing when you said, "Ultimately it gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family, and whatever they decide, they decide." Small government. Keep the bureaucracy out of people's homes. That's some solid conservative reasoning, we'll give you that.

But you didn't think it through. You should understand by now that no matter what you've heard about about the Tea Party and the rise of Tentherism and whatnot, the GOP base wants the government to intrude, massively, into people's lives when it comes to abortion. And you may think that you can skate by saying that the president isn't going to deliver a personal directive on some individual pro-life matter, but the base doesn't agree with you -- and the fact that President George W. Bush cut a vacation short to intervene on behalf of Terri Schiavo means that they have a precedent in mind.

Most of all, it's clear that you didn't think through what might happen if your candidacy actually took off. Here you are, with all the mass appeal that Mitt Romney wishes he had, and the polling numbers that Rick Perry covets (there's a party this weekend at Fred Thompson's house, celebrating the fact that he's no longer the shining example of a so-called savior coming to the game late and failing to impress anybody with a listless performance), and you have no plan. No operation. No tracks laid to run that Cain Train from Iowa to South Carolina. Now, you're playing catch-up ball, and we appreciate the effort. But is it going to be enough?

The good news is that your polling numbers give you time to adjust, and we notice you're already changing that 999 Plan up. Your opponents haven't mastered the art of thinking things through yet either -- witness the sloppy, disjointed discussion on foreclosures that happened at the debate. And the nice thing about debates is that people tend to remember the odd moments where flair and style surface, and not the substantive policy arguments that are won or lost. But you need to gather your advisors, and start working on the right problem.

The rest of you can enjoy this week on the campaign trail, where many mysteries are answered. Like: which candidate's donor is the primary benefactor of Occupy Wall Street? Who's the latest candidate to have regrets over Google? Which candidate has taken more money in donations from Bain Capital? And what candidate says he'll "die on a hill" to keep same-sex marriage from happening? The answers will surprise you! (Except for that last one, that's obviously Rick Santorum.) To find out more, please enter the Speculatron for the week of October 21, 2011.

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