Dissatisfaction with the other candidates and his own strong performances in the debates has lifted Herman Cain from who-do-these-guys-think-they-are territory to a-long-shot-but-who-knows land. Certainly a mark of that new status is yesterday’s Wall Street Journal column by Daniel Henninger.
The main objection to Cain is that he has never held public office. Given the fact that Barack Obama has never held anything but, I’m not sure that that is such a disqualifying attribute.
Potential presidents’ résumés are usually judged according to political experience, executive experience, and foreign-affairs experience. Cain has only the executive experience, and did pretty well at it, according to Henninger. But are the other two so vital? Of the last six presidents, only George H. W. Bush and Obama can claim “foreign-policy experience,” and Obama’s consisted of nothing more than two years as a Senate backbencher (the last two years of his Senate career consisted almost entirely of running for president). Bush II, Clinton, Reagan, and Carter had all been governors.
And, of course, the dirty little secret about foreign affairs is that they are a lot less complicated than domestic affairs, however fraught with peril. Presidents must deal with 300 million citizens, but only about 190 countries. And, when push really comes to shove, only about ten countries, the Great Powers, must be really taken into account.
So I don’t find Herman Cain’s résumé fatally defective. And his nomination would have two big plusses. One, it would rip the race card right out of the Democrats’ hands and two, it would set up a race between—in Glenn Reynolds marvelous phrase—Cain and Unable.