Douglas Wilson’s Letter From America

When Talking Heads Explode

Culture and Politics – Politics
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, October 27, 2011

The race for the Republican nomination is still too early in the demolition derby to make too much sense out of it. It will be interesting to see what happens when there are only three very dented cars still running.

The conventional wisdom was that the rise of Herman Cain was just the latest flavor-of-the-month selection, but the Bachman phase, and the Perry phase after that, were both markedly affected by behavior/gaffes – their rise and their fall were both according to the conventional wisdom. Their numbers dropped like a stick that a six-year-old boy had thrown in the air. Cain, like them, has had his gaffes too, some of them real gaffes, and some just deemed as gaffes by politiwonks who don’t know what he is doing. They know how to run for president and he, spending time in Tennessee when he should be in Iowa, is obviously not listening to them. Hey, what’s he doing in the lead?

Take, for example, the infamous smoking ad. But that told me more about Cain than anything up to this point. It appears he might be more interested in breathing free than breathing freely. Imagine.

Of course, there are things about Cain that I don’t like, and other things that make me nervous. I am nervous about his tendency to wing it. Most of the time it can come off okay, but then there are the occasional spasms, as in Cain’s magnificent garbling of the pro-life issue. The gift of glib is fine for radio talk show hosts, but he really needs to be more than “a personality.” Obama was flattered his whole life, and was wafted up to the highest office in the land by a bunch of helium which American people now regret emitting. Since his arrival in that office it has turned out that he has a Midas touch, of the leaden kind. Anyone who thinks that something similar couldn’t happen to a conservative needs to think about it just a little bit more.

And one of the things I actively don’t like is the absence of a fire-wall for his 9-9-9 plan. The introduction of a new mechanism for milking the taxpayer is a gigantic threat unless it is coupled with something else, something like what Perry proposed to go along with his flat tax — a ceiling past which federal expenditures, as a percentage of GDP, could not go. I would want something like that, coupled with a constitutional amendment requiring super-majorities in both houses if the tax rates were to go above 9 percent in any one of those categories. Without such a firewall, someone will contrive (quite soon enough) to have 9-9-9 turn into 21-21-21.

The fact that Cain is black is just for bonus points. Despite my reservations about some of his positions, I look forward to a bunch of television’s talking heads becoming television’s exploding heads as they try to show this as proof rock solid that the racist impulses of the tea party run very deep indeed.

All that said, I am now expecting Cain to be one of the final three, and I expect him to continue to be interesting.

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