Really now, with all the craziness coming out of the GOP field of candidates the last few months, I’m starting to wonder if I even need a separate Idiots’ Delight feature. Seems not a day goes by that something idiotic doesn’t happen involving that group of half-witted presidential wannabes. Sometimes I think I should just go ahead and change the title of my whole blog from The Spirit of a Progressive to Idiots’ Delight and be done with it.
And then, miraculously, someone steps forward and goes that extra mile, confirming my long-held belief in that most enduring of sayings: Patience truly is a virtue. This month’s winner of the Idiots’ Delight award so outdistanced every other past winner that I am going on record right now in predicting that, barring a late entry even more absurd, he has first dibs on the yearly prize, so egregious was his fait accompli.
So without further ado, let’s have at him.
Herman Cain. It takes a certain amount of determination to rise to the top of any political opinion poll, especially a presidential one. But give the Godfather Pizza man credit, rise he did. Like a one-hit wonder from an old jukebox, Herman Cane shot up the charts to become the prohibitive favorite among Republican voters. His 9-9-9 tax plan – flawed though it is – garnered him attention from the main-stream press and accolades from every-day people who connected on a visceral level with his simple and down to earth approach.
And then it happened. Herman Cain began to speak and not just in vague political speak; he started answering questions regarding important issues that a candidate for the highest office in the land should concern himself with and at least know a little bit about. Forget the sexual harassment charges concerning him – funny they never seemed to derail Bill Clinton – it was Cain’s own words not his alleged sexual impropriety that has now become his worst enemy.
They say in the advertising world that nothing kills a bad product better than good advertising. If that’s true, Herman Cain is as good as dead. The now famous “Libya interview” was about as embarrassing a display of ignorance as I have ever seen quite possibly in my entire lifetime. Forget Gerald Ford’s insistence that Poland was not under the sphere of Soviet domination; forget Michele Bachmann not knowing that the Lexington and Concord she was referring to was actually in Massachusetts and not New Hampshire; forget Rick Perry not being able to name all three of the departments he would eliminate should he be elected president. Old Herman has ‘em all beat.
In a moment that can only be characterized as Ross Perot like, the former presumptive Republican nominee, when asked by a reporter what he thought about the Libyan war, melted like an ice cube under a burning mid-day sun. Never mind a deer caught in a headlight, this was pure out to lunch. It was actually painful watching the man struggle to formulate even a thought about the war. In five minutes Cain managed to dig himself a hole halfway to China.
Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon tried to downplay the gaffe. “He didn't say anything wrong or inaccurate; it just took him a while to recall the specifics of Libya.” Yeah, like almost two minutes. To make matters worse, Cain completed his journey to downtown Beijing several days later by defending his performance and insisting the Taliban and elements of Al Qaeda are now a part of the new Libyan government.
What can you say about someone who makes Michele Bachmann look sane and Rick Perry seem intelligent? It’s one thing to be wrong about an issue, or even to flip flop on it – hello, Mitt Romney. It’s quite another to be clueless about it. With the exception of the killing of Osama bin Laden, no other issue dominated foreign policy more than Libya. You don’t get a mulligan for not being at least somewhat aware of what happened and what your thoughts about it are.
No matter what spin Cain chooses to put on the interview the fact remains that his lack of knowledge is appallingly apparent. Anyone seeking the nomination of his party for the Presidency of the United States needs more than just a smile and a catchphrase to earn the right to occupy that office. Honest men and women may disagree as to whether Barack Obama has earned the right to be reelected, but it is nothing short of arrogance to presume that just because you differ with him philosophically on every issue that you somehow deserve the job.
At the end of the day, who ever wins the 2012 presidential election is going to face the toughest challenges any head of state has had to face in decades. To solve the problems besetting us will take more than just guile and simple delegation; it will take a level of competence and sophistication that few men and women possess. It is a title no one should ever seek lightly; yet Herman Cain has turned the quest into a sideshow and, in so doing, has embarrassed himself and his party. There is simply too much at stake to entrust the nation to someone who is in over his head and is clearly a flimflam artist.
If Mitt Romney is the used-car salesman from hell, then Herman Cain is the conman extraordinaire.