Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Cain Takes a Page Out of Palin’s Book

In a Republican presidential field that is low on personality Herman Cain is an entertaining diversion. The pizza magnate has a charismatic style and is a good speaker. He also knows a few things about the foolishness of government intervention into the marketplace. But it appears that he is reading out of Sarah Palin’s playbook when it comes to coping with his shortcomings.

In a profile of the candidate in yesterday’s Washington Post, Cain says that those who have had the temerity to point out his almost complete ignorance about foreign affairs and security policy (not an unimportant point to make about someone who aspires to be commander-in-chief), like conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer are a manifestation of the of the gulf “between the establishment and the “real world.” This is the same defense of her lack of seriousness that was made by Sarah Palin in December when she too criticized the sage Krauthammer for expecting her to be “hoity toity.”

Populism is an interesting tactic to use against out of touch Washington liberals but it doesn’t work when candidates employ it as a defense of ignorance. Krauthammer is as far from official Washington’s idea of conventional wisdom as either Cain or Palin. But he is spot on when it comes to spotting candidates who lack not only the qualifications to deal with serious issues but the ability to even fake it.

Cain is an obvious example of the latter. In the Post profile, he attempts to excuse his astonishing gaffe in which he revealed that he had no idea what the “right of return” meant in Middle East politics when asked about it by Chris Wallace on Fox News:

“It would have helped if he would have said Palestinian right of return,” said Cain, adding, “Return to the bar? Return home?” Cain said he was focused in the interview on pronouncing Benjamin Netanyahu’s “name right.” He is currently reading a book on Israel.

Does he think that is supposed to reassure us that he has the faintest idea of what he’s talking about? He also stands by his comment in the first GOP presidential debate in South Carolina in which he said he had no opinion about the future conduct of the war in Afghanistan but would “listen to experts.” He says he’ll let the country know what he plans to do sometime between Election Day in 2012 and his inauguration!

If Sarah Palin runs, we may get a more full-blown test of the efficacy of using populism as cover for a lack of attention to the hard-core details of issues and presidential demeanor. But until that happens, we’ll just have to content ourselves with catching up with Herman Cain’s reading list.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.