THE BLOG
10/16/2011 08:51 pm ET | Updated Dec 15, 2011

Cain Mutiny; or, Hey, You, Get Off of My Cloud!

Straw polls. The history of the "straw poll" is interesting. In order to test the direction of the wind, one would hold up a thin stalk of straw and whichever way the straw bent one could rightfully conclude the wind was blowing in that direction. It's painfully mindless. There's not much analysis to it. The straw might bend to the left; the straw might bend to the right. So, Herman Cain has won three straw polls: Florida, TeaCon and NFRW. So, what does that mean? Basically, nothing. One might argue that the wind is blowing in Herman Cain's direction presumably based on the fact that he's been bellowing his 999 policy as if it were a policy that will eventually garner him a Nobel Prize in economics. On the face of it, the idea seems painfully simplistic, but simplicity is what Cain is good at. Most of his statements are painfully simplistic and he's never adequately addressed issues that go beyond economics. He has relatively nothing to say about foreign policy except for the fact that he unabashedly has said he knows more about foreign policy than the president. Odd statement coming from someone who's never held public office and lost at that when he tried.

For example, in an August 28, 2011 article in the Daily Caller, Cain wrote "Let me be direct and clear. I support Israel's position that the 1967 borders must stand. I also support the position that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that Jerusalem must never be divided." Clearly, a progressive solution to the conflict that's been going on for six decades and to show how on top of things Cain is he continued to write "I attended the closing program of Glenn Beck's special event in Israel, 'Restoring Courage,' which could not have been held in a more appropriate location. No other nation has better exemplified courage throughout its history than the nation of Israel. It has consistently survived and thrived against the odds." No better person to valorize than Glenn Beck, but beyond his valorizing Beck, Cain's statement makes him out to be the king of the bloody obvious. How many people have said the same thing? One is reminded of Eldridge Cleaver's comment that if you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem. Repeating hackneyed phrases about the Israeli-Palestinian issue doesn't make Cain an insightful political analyst, but merely another talking head whose iterations of previous iterations fall within the purview of Republican talking points.

But he seems to think (in a Palinesque way) that as the world becomes more and more complex and globalization links all earthly economies in a great chain of being, the answers to these pressing problems are very simple. What I find astonishing about this rather naïve approach to complex problems is how he believes that he alone can change the entire economic situation of the United States while the rest of the economic world founders. Enter the 999 solution. I'm not exactly clear where this came from since in the beginning of his campaign it didn't exist. Sometime during the Republican pseudo-debates, it arose and now becomes the main topic of conversation for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. His explanation of what it entails is as facile minded as the solution itself since he merely reiterates what those individual 9% solutions are. How that will affect millions of workers is never analyzed and none of the other candidates questions that. His website states:

Vision for Economic Growth
• The natural state of our economy is prosperity. Freedom ensures that.
• We must get the government off our backs, out of our pockets and out of our way in order to return to prosperity.
• Policy uncertainty is killing the economy

Apparently, this is what Cain means when he talks about 'simplicity and transparency." These statements are fundamentally superficial. In other words, it's merely empty rhetoric. Is he stating that the reason we don't have prosperity is because the federal government hinders that and not because of unregulated derivative trading? Is he stating we don't have freedom in the United States? And what does he mean by "policy uncertainty"? What policy? Is there only one? Does he believe that such a policy could actually pass Congress? Does he know how Congress functions? The rhetoric is patently specious and appeals to those who feel as if they've understood something politically profound when, in fact, they've only read words on a page written by someone with a B.A. degree in English. Perhaps, the Cain campaign should have looked to someone who was a bit more knowledgeable about economics. Perhaps, someone who might have attended the London School of Economics. Perhaps, someone like Mick Jagger.