21 October 2011

Cain Throws Himself Under the Bus Over Abortion

Herman Cain has enjoyed great success during the 2012 GOP Presidential Primary process as he has marketed himself as a non-politician politician who dares to answer questions with great candor. Generally, Cain has been unflappable during the half dozen debates selling his 9-9-9 tax overhaul plan. Granted Cain, stumbled a bit early on whether he would appoint Muslims to his Administration. But after that, Cain’s meteoric rise in the polls reflects Tea Party support that is a conservative alternative to Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) the stalwart but centrist top tier candidate

Cain has a wide array of experience to offer, from preacher, corporate executive, member of the Federal Reserve and pizza entrepreneur to conservative talk radio host. Cain does not have much experience in running for office.  Cain’s only elective political experience was in 2004 for the Senate seat in Georgia in which he failed to win the GOP primary. Indeed,  Cain boasted during the New Hampshire debate that he is not a politician but a problem solver.  Alas, Cain’s inexperience at politicking may kill his fledgling fight to be the Republican standard bearer against President Obama.

Herman Cain chose to go on the Piers Morgan program on CNN.  Morgan, like his predecessor Larry King, is not known for intense adversarial interviews.   But Piers Morgan did ask Herman Cain about abortion.  At best, it can be said that Cain gave a muddled answer about abortion.

While the Hermanator initially indicated that he was Pro-Life, Cain gave a mixed message. When Morgan pressed Herman with the hypothetical about a grand-daughter being raped, Cain rightly pointed out that rape and incest was was only a small fraction of total abortions, Cain implied that it was a decision that a family needed to make.  After this flub sparked a firestorm among inflamed pro-life GOP voters, Cain tried to clarify his awkward answer about abortion by asserting: "Abortion should not be legal, that is clear. But if that family made a decision to break the law, that's that family's decision, that's all I'm trying to say.”

Piers Morgan was following the script for gotcha journalism in the Lamestream Media.  Morgan’s conversational question about killing an unborn baby highlights a wedge issue for the right and the left.  By personalizing the “choice”, it takes a candidate off message and frames anyone who does not accede to situational ethics as an ogre.  Unfortunately, Morgan passed on his chance to do a real public service instead of just generating publicity by failing to ask “Do you support an anti-abortion amendment to the Constitution?” or something of that ilk.

Cain’s unclear answer about abortion shows his inexperience as a candidate in the big leagues.  The grueling demands of the campaign trail will challenge a candidates stamina, messaging, organization and beliefs.  Cain gave a brilliant rebuttal of Obama-care in his personal story about colon cancer during the Orlando debate.  And his hawking of 9-9-9 has encouraged a debate about real replacement of the current byzantine tax system. But a Presidential Campaign will touch upon sensitive, complex subjects from a wide array of disciplines.  It is crucial for a successful candidate to know his values and be able to concisely convey those positions.

There is little doubt that Cain personally is anti-abortion.  But even his amended answer is unclear as to whether abortion is a moral choice.  Cain might suppose that laws prohibit abortion, but his second shot at defending innocent human life acknowledges that a family might choose to break the law.  Ardent anti-abortionists ought wonder how much protection Cain offers an unborn life if the candidate conceives that it is OK for families to break the law to terminate a pregnancy.

Perhaps a nuanced view on abortion might sell well during a general election, but to win the nomination Cain must ride the rocky road of the primaries. That muddled middling response on the fundamental question of human life will please neither side.

Cain’s inexperience at campaigning is showing in other areas.  As Florida’s choice to move their contest to January 28th accelerated the primary process for early contests to late December and early January, the Hermanator made some unconventional choices.  For instance, even though Cain has surpassed Romney in national polls, Cain chose to honor a commitment to appear at a Memphis bookstore to hawk his new book “This Is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House”.  Not many early primaries in western Tennessee, Arkansas or Mississippi.  Even though Cain has spent most of the year running for President, he has managed to earn $250,000 in speaking engagements. The mixing of commerce and campaigning can leave a candidate vulnerable later in the process.

While Herman Cain is a front runner in the polls, that can be misleading as a successful candidate needs to get supporters to the polls in early primary states.  Cain only has four staffers in New Hampshire, but Cain might have already conceded the Granite State to Romney.  Even though polls earlier in the week had Cain leading in Iowa, the Hermanator only has a half dozen staffers in the Hawkeye State.  Both of those bellweather contests require strong ground games doing intense retail politicking.  Cain won the Florida Straw poll and will have a celebrated primary (despite the halfing of delegate strength), but he only has one staffer for the nation’s fourth most populous state.   Last week on Sean Hannity’s radio show, guest Leo Terrell charged that Republican voters eventually would not vote for Cain because he is black. The liberal race monger may not have considered that Cain’s popularity may plummet at the polls due to ill conceived campaign choices.

While there are several signs that the Herman Cain Express is slowing down on the rocky road to winning the White House, Cain’s campaign inexperience is showing. In life as in politics, Cain has recovered from seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  But at the moment, it looks like Cain threw himself under the bus over abortion.

No comments: