A Critique of the Criticism re Herman Cain’s Qualifications to be President

Sorry this is a little late.

This is Part II from my interview with Herman Cain, a natural born citizen, over the age of 35 (Art II, Sec 1)…
…with no prior governmental experience, but recognized as a financial rescue specialist par excellence and with a proven record of leadership.

After exchanging pleasantries Mr Cain on New Year’s Eve, the first thing I asked Mr Cain was for his take on this common criticism that he “isn’t qualified” to be president because he has no experience  in government.
It didn’t offend Mr Cain when I asked that question. He wasn’t angry, but he was certainly animated, as he jumped on it like a cat. I assumed he’d been asked this before. He said:

“Nothing energizes me more than somebody telling me I can’t do a thing. It was the same when they asked me to take over a dying company that “couldn’t be saved.” I consider such things as challenges.”

He then went on to relate the things you already know about the Godfather’s  rescue, how Pillsbury (the parent company) had given them up for dead, and how he had not only turned it around, but set in place a generation of management that survives to this day. Pretty impressive.
Still, many think, as a potential presidential candidate,  something is missing in Mr Cain’s resume.

This is my critique of the criticism of Herman Cain’s qualifications, and others like him from the private sector, based on that second part of the equation just stated above, “with no prior governmental experience.”

Going back thirty years, nothing has annoyed me more than the notion that presidents must come from the political class, and actually a very narrow segment of it. That’s like saying only West Pointers should make General in the Army, or that the Foreign Service’s highest offices should all belong to Princeton grads. Or, Gad! – that Congress should only be of the legal profession.

See where I’m going? It’s a club thing, ring-knockers, and little more. And much of the political-media world the past generation has had as it main mission to convince citizens that they must look ONLY to the political class to find their leadership. A closed union shop. Look for the union label, which spells “Big Government Chic.”

My criticism here is not aimed at any particular member of the political class. (Please read this sentence twice, you slow learners. I’m not trying to pooh-pooh any of your candidates.) But the political class as a template for predictable, successful performance is too riddled with failure to be exclusivist about much of anything. A little humility, please. You’re lucky we haven’t strung you up…without benefit of trial or clergy.

Therefore, I’m not suggesting that the past failures of the political class should exclude any member who comes along offering a better way. There are some fine potential candidates out there who I like very much. We’ll take good leadership when and where we can find it.

But surely you can see that the private sector should be added into the mix.
This past election (and the next and the next, I’ll wager) has already shown a shifting demographic for the types of people who are running for office at the district and state level. The lawyer class isn’t being shut out, but it sure is losing some of its luster as a fast track for political success, especially since that track often bypasses a lot of real-life experiences the people once again are beginning to see as important in our political culture.

The “farm system” being established by American Majority will be recruiting many of these kinds of people, people who have met a payroll, among other things. They have credentials to bring to the table what hopefully may be coming back into vogue. Critical credentials. Herman Cain calls it “common sense.”

Of course, this will takes years to shake out, but one of the things we’ve all prayed for is an end to 2000 -page laws, backed up by 20,000 pages of regulations written in undecipherable legalese.  Writing the laws in a straightforward manner will eliminate the need for lawyers telling us what the laws say.  We don’t need a bureaucratic, Levitical class to tell us what the laws really mean.  The Framers assumed the people were smarter than that.  The federal law and agencies should no longer subsidize the proliferation of lawyers who have no other useful purpose. Take away the government rice bowl and most will likely go into a different line of work. Let the rest write my will, sue the guy who rear-ended me, and run get coffee in the corporate boardrooms around America. A real win-win for America.

So, the “reasons” put forward to support this thesis of political class exclusivity fail entirely once put under the microscope. You can’t point to any past success that suggests that we can expect anything but more of the same next time, and you can’t point to any specific thing a private sector person can’t do that one from the political class can.

I always ask people who tell me this, “OK, be specific. Assume we’re sitting around the conference table with the Cabinet. Just what issue could come up that a former CEO of a private corporation wouldn’t be able to handle that a former governor of Minnesota could?” (Being a governor from a small state, Sarah Palin gets the same bum’s rush, as well.)

Show me with specificity how this “lack of qualifications” works out at the time and place of decision. And please, lay off the foreign policy background. Since FDR very few presidents had prior foreign policy experience, with mixed results…while one with none, a former actor, turned world history upside down by defeating the world’s most evil empire.  He didn’t learn any of it at Princeton. Nor in Sacramento.

A commenter to my earlier Leadership post about Mr Cain, said:
“I insist on someone with demonstrated experience in scaling back government.”

Now, I’ve scratched my head on that one and concluded “there is no such animal.” Throughout our history, at least since Millard Fillmore, no American from the political class ever had a record of having ever “scaled back government” prior to coming to the White House, and certainly not while sitting in it. We have a few governors who are trying to do this, but their “success” is a little too early to call. I like those who walk the walk while also taking the talk, but most of all I like those who can nail the coffin shut. Federally, this type does not exist.

And while, over the past  several decades there might have been a few governors in states who had shrunk their governments’ size, the transition of these immense skills to Washington politics has never worked out very well. In fact, they’ve usually failed miserably…for what should be obvious reasons; in Washington they find an intractable opposition that has every intent to thwart every attempt by the President and his party to accomplish for the country what they see as fit and proper and in the best interests of the People. A failure to utilize Mr Cain’s WAR principles explains this; 1) WORK on the right problem, 2) ASK the right questions and 3) REMOVE areas that present barriers.

The sad and ugly truth is that the Left has applied this rule better than our side in Washington, for to them, the “right problem” was always dismantling our constitutional system. And some states, California largest among them, have already slashed their wrists, they did it so well.

So then, why do we continue to do the same thing over and over again, each time hoping for a different outcome? I think in some urban dictionary that’s considered a sign of insanity. Or at least stupidity.

Again, this isn’t a knock against all those fine men and women who have come, with the best of intentions, to fix things. It’s just that the hard truth is that those with the most success at doing this have been excluded from the current political mix altogether, simply because they can’t flash their union card.

Scaling back costs and staff is a routine part of the private sector economy, both in small-to-intermediate sized businesses, and large corporations. My main interest in Herman Cain, besides his other qualifications, is that he is the archetype of this sort of leadership and managerial can-do, results-oriented performance we all wish we could find in our political class. I’d like to see a dozen more of them in coming years.

The clamor out there is for a dedicated cost cutter from the political class, with a proven record…and Govs Christie, Daniels and now Walker, are on such a glide path of performance…but the job also requires the hard-nosed ability to draw up a unified plan across all government…not just the financial side. This same individual, using a strong conservative majority, and a willingness and ability to spit in the eye of the Left and Democrats, who will be hellbent to defeat those plans at every turn, including putting thugs in the streets, must, at the same time, stare down China, Iran, Russia, North Korea…while understanding that four, eight years won’t get this job done – more like sixteen or twenty. A full plate indeed.

We’ve been down that path before with governors. We had a conservative president in 2000 who came to Washington with a reputation of working with Democrats in the Texas legislature. He had a working majority in both chambers. But he and his party spent like drunken sailors just to appear compassionate. And they blanched and ducked for cover every time  “racist,” or “the poor, women, or children,” or “Big Business,” or “dirty air or global warming” were mentioned. And the opposition ate them for lunch. They called the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle a full 3-5 years before it nearly drove our financial institutions over the cliff, but after a dropped short pass, they punted. Worse, the American people were never consulted, nor asked to come in and help. There was no brinkmanship in either chambers.

So, in 2006, the People passed the chambers over.

I can think of a number of people today who could juggle all these things…but with no more, no less, capability than people from the private sector.
I’m an analyst and it doesn’t take rocket science to understand that 1) to restore the Constitution, 2) restore the people to their proper place as overseers of this Republic, and then 3) get about the hard politics of righting this ship of state, economically and spiritually;  you can’t get there from here using the same old tired templates.

We knew going into the 2010 elections, and certainly coming out winners in November, that the old rules do not apply anymore. The laws of political certainty are being redrawn as we speak. By the end of the 2012 cycle, pollsters won’t even be asking the same kinds of questions they do now. Time, space and power  have shifted.

It’s more than a tidal wave. It’s a sea change. The real question isn’t whether Herman Cain is qualified to be president (clearly he is) but whether his type of professional citizen is qualified, when it is abundantly clear to me that this type ESPECIALLY can solve some of the most searing and perilous questions of our time.

Herman Cain knows this is an issue he will have to deal with in coming weeks and months. So, for every other citizen from the private sector, watch how this develops, for Mr Cain will be pioneering an issue, which, to my mind, may determine the larger outcome as to whether the United States and Constitution will survive for very long. For if we leave it up to the political class exclusively to solve these problems, then I give our chances at less than 50-50.

And for you who will say “Vassar, you’re wrong,” and some of you already have, my answer to you is this:

No, you’re wrong. The problem isn’t your candidate, who I probably like very much. The problem is your template, and I argue, it is that you are fighting to protect. Here it is in simple language;

We’re at a crossroads now where we (the American people) can no longer afford for you to be wrong. We need to broaden our options and change out templates.

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