HermanCain.jpg

Is Herman Cain Vice-Presidential Timber?

I float an idea whose time may never come, but I float it nonetheless. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that, whereas 83% of African-Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Barack Obama five months ago, only 58% do so now.

I do not mean to suggest that putting Herman Cain on the ticket would enable the Republicans to sweep the black vote in this country. It would not do so. But it would, I believe, help them to make inroads – substantial inroads, and it might be a real game-changer in other ways as well.

No group has suffered more from unemployment and underemployment than our fellow citizens of African-American ancestry. They are, for the time being, loyal to Barack Obama, whom they have accepted at least provisionally as one of their own. But they are not at all satisfied with his accomplishments, and they are restive and even angry. Some among their leaders have even hinted that the President has betrayed “his people” – and, in a sense, he has.

Nothing Barack Obama has done was genuinely aimed at bringing down unemployment. He and his advisors seized on the recession of 2008 as an opportunity to pass a series of measures, long desired by the left, that had nothing to do with priming the economic pump. The so-called “stimulus” bill was a big pay-off to the unions, the public-sector unions in particular. Obamacare was sold as a jobs bill, but it was never really that. Dodd-Frank has paralyzed the financial services industry, and the prospect that there will be dramatically higher taxes in the near future has depressed hiring. Black Americans are not alone in suffering from Obama’s recklessness, but they have been hit very, very hard. They know it, and they are resentful.

Herman Cain has many virtues. He has turned around a major business; he has experience with the federal reserve. He has tremendous dignity, a sense of humor, and a plethora of good sense. He lacks the familiarity with foreign affairs needed in a President, but he has undoubted expertise of a sort most welcome in a Vice-President. He is forthright, direct, even eloquent, and he is a genuine African-American. Ten seconds of listening to him talk is sufficient to demonstrate that. He is a good man, and he could be for us a very useful man. And what he does not know about foreign affairs, he could easily enough learn in an office subordinate to the President, as others have in the past.

One card that the Democrats will play this year will be the race card. They will play it as never before. They will play it against Mitt Romney, using certain aspects of Mormon theology to smear the man. They will play it against Rick Perry. Just being from Texas makes him guilty, right? And the mainstream media will vent hyperbolically on this theme.

But if Cain were on the ticket – not a fake, invented, post-modern African-American from Hawaii, Indonesia, and the Ivy League, but the real thing – these charges would go nowhere. They might even backfire. Moreover, Cain could begin the difficult, but rewarding task of teaching free-market economics to the one group in this country that most needs to learn about what it can do for them.

I do not mean by this to suggest that Cain would be a better Vice-Presidential pick than Marco Rubio. I like them both; and, if forced to choose, I would probably opt for Rubio. What I would suggest, however, is that Cain would bring some strengths to the ticket and to the office as well. Can you imagine him up against Joe Biden?

  1. liberal jim

    Having a conservative black on the ticket would not be a bad thing.  I like Cain and would be inclined to support him before Romney and possibly Perry (both of these have demonstrated that their fall back positions are that more not less government involvement is often if not always the answer.)  What they are saying now to try to get elected really makes little difference.   Assuming the VP would be running with one of these I would go with Allen West, just as conservative,  more FP knowledge, military veteran, from FL, a better communicator and might just give either candidate some badly needed backbone.   I would think Biden will not be running with Obama this time.

  2. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Roberto

    Paul A. Rahe

    Roberto: Vice-President? Why should he settle? 

    … domestic considerations trump everything. Sep 21 at 6:37pm

    When domestic considerations are allowed to trump everything, you get a world war. You remember the 1930s and forget the 1940s. · Sep 21 at 6:41pm
    Not at all. With only a passing review one can easily see the winds of war blowing across the globe, the seeds being planted. The danger is there yet it is hubris to believe that we can alter its’ course. Our military strength is directly proportional to our economic well being, crippled at home it is the height of absurdity to imagine we can control events abroad. Our nation is weaker economically and more divided politically than it has been in decades, we are in no position to save others from their folly. 

    If we cannot get our own house in order then nothing else matters.  · Sep 21 at 7:32pm

    Yes, but if we ignore the larger realities outside the country while doing so, it will mean war — and we have no one to watch those realities other than the President. Cain is not qualified for the top job . . . yet.

  3. Charlotte

    Cain for Fed or Treasury would be just fine. But for VPOTUS? While I understand and somewhat agree that he might be a politically expedient pick, absolutely not. Isn’t anyone bothered by his rather un-American religious litmus test? (If this has already been discussed at Ricochet, my apologies, and please point me in the right direction to get up to speed.)

  4. thelonious

     Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell didn’t make Bush more popular with African Americans.  Why would Herman Cain be different?  A token black person or two isn’t going to change an entire culture that’s entrenched now in the Democratic Party.

  5. r r
    Paul A. Rahe

    I float an idea whose time may never come, but I float it nonetheless. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that, whereas 83% of African-Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Barack Obama five months ago, only 58% do so now.

    I visited my boyhood home in South Chicago 2 weeks ago and we drove around to a couple weddings of friends around the city.  I only saw 3 B.O. bumper stickers on the West side and a couple on the North side.  I did, however see a fair number of home made Obama shirts (that made him look creepily like a deity) and a decent number of Obama hats on the near South side.

    The African-American vote is something President Obama has absolutely nothing to worry about.

  6. Scott R

    How is it we’ve got so many great VP candidates that it’s impossible to choose, but our Prez candidates are so lame?

  7. thelonious
    Paul A. Rahe

    thelonious:  Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell didn’t make Bush more popular with African Americans.  Why would Herman Cain be different?  A token black person or two isn’t going to change an entire culture that’s entrenched now in the Democratic Party. · Sep 21 at 6:14pm

    Neither Rice nor Powell was ever on the ticket, and Bush did not run at a time when African-Americans were noisily, even bitterly, unhappy with a President from the Democratic Party. Moreover, Cain is a populist who speaks — genuinely from the heart — in the accents of a black preacher. Close your eyes; listen to Rice, then Powell. You do not know that they are black. Try closing your eyes and listening to Cain.  Sep 21 at 6:38pm

    Clarence Thomas sounds “black”  with all the history of a typical black person of his age.  The black community hasn’t embraced him.  It’s folly to beleive a conservative black person can bring in black voters.  Too many negative perceptions and history for any conservative to overcome in the black community.  A few token black candidates isn’t going to change that.

  8. Troy Senik, Ed.

    Dr. Rahe ~

    I couldn’t agree with you more that Cain is someone whose combination of skill and potential renders him deserving of promotion within the party. That being said, I ultimately come down on the side of your final paragraph: Rubio is the guy.

    The reason is simple. As you point out, Cain has shown himself green on foreign policy issues. There’s no reason that he can’t improve on that in the future, but the centrality of the presidency to foreign policy is too serious to be overlooked. And the fact that our Vice President is the individual we anoint to ascend to the Oval Office if we lose the Commander-in-Chief means he should be held to no lower standard on international affairs than the man he serves under.

    I’d love to see Herman Cain able to pass that test some day. I just don’t think he’ll be able to in 2012.

  9. GreenCarder

    The more I’ve seen of Cain, the more I like.  In some ways, he demonstrates a greater and purer fidelity to free market principles than any of the other candidates on the debate stage.  He comes across as very sincere and measured.  He expresses himself clearly and impactfully, with wit and some good soundbites woven in (“They told me, ‘Well, you don’t understand how Washington works.’ And I said, ‘Yes I do:  It doesn’t.’ “)

    I agree with Dr. Rahe’s assessment that his obvious lack of experience in elected office and in foreign affairs makes the presidency itself a huge stretch, but these shortcomings, such as they are, would indeed be much less problematic in a vice presidential candidate,  and his obvious strengths would be of great benefit.  

    Finally, his background is a truly authentic American one which I would think ought to appeal to some material number of black voters – especially in the south.

  10. Roberto

    Vice-President? Why should he settle? 

    Is he weak on foreign policy? Yes without question to which I can only add, so what? The domestic challenges we face currently and more importantly will be facing in the coming years will rival anything that has occurred in this country since the Great Depression, domestic considerations trump everything. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is infinitely more serious than anything that has come from the GOP front runners to date. 

    If these words could by some chance reach your ear Mr. Cain, please fight this out until the fighting is done. Do not settle for “a bucket of warm piss”.

  11. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    thelonious:  Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell didn’t make Bush more popular with African Americans.  Why would Herman Cain be different?  A token black person or two isn’t going to change an entire culture that’s entrenched now in the Democratic Party. · Sep 21 at 6:14pm

    Neither Rice nor Powell was ever on the ticket, and Bush did not run at a time when African-Americans were noisily, even bitterly, unhappy with a President from the Democratic Party. Moreover, Cain is a populist who speaks — genuinely from the heart — in the accents of a black preacher. Close your eyes; listen to Rice, then Powell. You do not know that they are black. Try closing your eyes and listening to Cain. Let me add that there are plenty of whites would would feel more comfortable voting Republican if such a man were on the ticket.

  12. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Samwise Gamgee

    Paul A. Rahe

    I float an idea whose time may never come, but I float it nonetheless. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that, whereas 83% of African-Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Barack Obama five months ago, only 58% do so now.

    I visited my boyhood home in South Chicago 2 weeks ago and we drove around to a couple weddings of friends around the city.  I only saw 3 B.O. bumper stickers on the West side and a couple on the North side.  I did, however see a fair number of home made Obama shirts (that made him look creepily like a deity) and a decent number of Obama hats on the near South side.

    The African-American vote is something President Obama has absolutely nothing to worry about. · Sep 21 at 6:15pm

    Chicago is not exactly typical.

  13. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Roberto: Vice-President? Why should he settle? 

    Is he weak on foreign policy? Yes without question to which I can only add, so what? The domestic challenges we face currently and more importantly will be facing in the coming years will rival anything that has occurred in this country since the Great Depression, domestic considerations trump everything. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is infinitely more serious than anything that has come from the GOP front runners to date. 

    If these words could by some chance reach your ear Mr. Cain, please fight this out until the fighting is done. Do not settle for “a bucket of warm piss”. · Sep 21 at 6:37pm

    When domestic considerations are allowed to trump everything, you get a world war. You remember the 1930s and forget the 1940s.

  14. Illiniguy

    I’ve often heard him as substitute host for Neal Boortz, and when he has the chance to expound on issues, he’s a lot better than he is during the debates, where I think he feels the need for stridency. I think that’s hurting him, because his ideas need more time to be discussed than he’s been given. He definitely belongs in a Republican administration (I’d pick him as Fed chairman or Secretary of Education, where his job would be to dismantle it), but VP, no. He’d be seen as nothing more than a token candidate, and he deserves better.

  15. BriarRose

    I fear, as a conservative black man, Cain will undergo the same scathing treatment that Justice Thomas did during his confirmation hearings.  I do believe, however, that Cain is of the same mettle and will prove to be a tough, unbending force for good.

  16. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Illiniguy: I’ve often heard him as substitute host for Neal Boortz, and when he has the chance to expound on issues, he’s a lot better than he is during the debates, where I think he feels the need for stridency. I think that’s hurting him, because his ideas need more time to be discussed than he’s been given. He definitely belongs in a Republican administration (I’d pick him as Fed chairman or Secretary of Education, where his job would be to dismantle it), but VP, no. He’d be seen as nothing more than a token candidate, and he deserves better. · Sep 21 at 6:52pm

    Perhaps, so. He certainly is deserving.

  17. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Charlotte: Cain for Fed or Treasury would be just fine. But for VPOTUS? While I understand and somewhat agree that he might be a politically expedient pick, absolutely not. Isn’t anyone bothered by his rather un-American religious litmus test? (If this has already been discussed at Ricochet, my apologies, and please point me in the right direction to get up to speed.) · Sep 22 at 6:03am

    This deserves attention and discussion.

  18. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    thelonious

    Paul A. Rahe

    thelonious:  · Sep 21 at 6:14pm

    Neither Rice nor Powell was ever on the ticket, and Bush did not run at a time when African-Americans were noisily, even bitterly, unhappy with a President from the Democratic Party. Moreover, Cain is a populist who speaks — genuinely from the heart — in the accents of a black preacher. Close your eyes; listen to Rice, then Powell. You do not know that they are black. Try closing your eyes and listening to Cain.  Sep 21 at 6:38pm
    Clarence Thomas sounds “black”  with all the history of a typical black person of his age.  The black community hasn’t embraced him.  It’s folly to beleive a conservative black person can bring in black voters.  Too many negative perceptions and history for any conservative to overcome in the black community.  A few token black candidates isn’t going to change that. · Sep 22 at 6:21am

    What I am suggesting has never been tried. Cain on the stump will not be ignored. Thomas is constrained by his office. Remember: most African-Americans are social conservatives. One thing is certain. We will fail if we do not try.

  19. Western Chauvinist

    I know people who wouldn’t vote for McCain supposedly because of Palin’s youth and foreign policy inexperience.  I’ve promised to re-visit their vote with them if McCain survives relatively mentally unscathed until inauguration day 2013.  Really.  Deciding your vote for president on the person occupying the VP slot is pretty silly.  If more people had considered the possible ascendance of Joe “Bozo the Clown” Biden, Obama would never have been elected.

    However, Mr. Cain is right to make one of his selling points that he puts the race card out of play.  Unfortunately for him, the presidency isn’t an entry level position in electoral politics.  I think as VP he would probably bring as many black voters to the GOP as Rubio would bring Latinos, which is to say, not many.  If the proportion of blacks or Latinos is more favorable to Republicans this election, it will be because many of them are sitting it out due to their disillusionment with Obama.

    I wonder, too, if there isn’t some strategic advantage to holding off putting Rubio on the ticket just yet.  I think the best reason to pick Rubio is it tees him up.

  20. M1919A4

    I like Mr. Cain, a lot.  If he were more attuned to foreign affairs, I could be comfortable with him as the presidential candidate.  But, I expect a first class war in the Near East during the next four years and I want someone well versed in foreign affairs as President and also someone who is a true friend of Israel (with John Bolton as Secretary of State).

    Mr. Cain certainly ought to be offered a high post in the next administration; perhaps the Treasury.

    I have been greatly impressed with Col. Alan West.  Would he make a good vice-presidential candidate?  He has many of Mr. Cain’s qualities.

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