There is no Mitch Daniels candidacy for reasons of family, and now there is no Chris Christie candidacy for reasons having to do with concerns for being governor of his state and not really wanting to run for president (at this time). So the two men who most impressed me are not running.

Will talk remain about another potential candidacy?

Youngsters like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio are . . . well they are too young given the kind of experience that a candidate may be expected to have after the electorate voted for a president with a brief stint in the Illinois state house and 4 years in the US Senate.

True, as then candidate Obama said to McCain in 2008, sometimes judgment outweighs experience, but experience can show whether over a long period of time one has exercised good judgment.

How about Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, or as I have recently read Eric Cantor? They’re not gonna happen.

Besides it is late in the game to gain national recognition and funds, and to organize a campaign in the many state primaries that are crowding together early next year.

I think we have a Republican field that has been completely tilled.

I agree with Peter that Herman Cain has improved. He is a strong speaker who appears to be comfortable in his own skin. He exhibits a degree of competence, and the fact that it comes from involvement in a pizza business instead of academia or government makes him appear more in touch with immediate concerns of many voters. To quote something Chris Matthews often says (oh no!) about other politicians, Cain talks “to” the people instead of “at” them or “down to” them.

But I remain skeptical of the feasibility and gimmickry of Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. Can it raise enough revenue for government costs? Wouldn’t cutting spending and reforming entitlements and the current tax code be a better course of action (Bowles-Simpson plan, et al.)? And even though income tax rates would be greatly reduced to 9%, is introducing a new kind of consumption tax politically expedient, and what would be its implementation and administrative costs? Does the record show that national consumption taxes are able to remain capped at the level to which they were introduced? Without spending cuts, in two years might it need to become 9-9-12? Besides, aren’t consumption taxes regressive, in that they take a larger chunk of income on expenditures on household necessities for those with lower incomes?

As a former pizza delivery driver, I was always wary of the simple gimmicks the managers used to give us to make our deliveries more quickly. They usually involved acronyms. I’ll leave it for another post to give an account of my general low opinion regarding gimmicks to reform education. So I’m skeptical of nation-wide gimmicks. 9-9-9, the “fair tax”—why not just trot out Henry George!

On a side note, I would like to hear a clarification of Cain’s statement regarding the reasons why, if he were elected president, there would be no chance that a Muslim could hold a position in his administration.

With Mitt Romney, instead of simple gimmickry we have an economic recovery plan with a whopping 59 points of action. Talk about technocratic pulling of the levers! But is Cain any better in this regard when he consistently says that the best way to solve the country’s problems is to get the smartest guys together in one room to handle the details for solving our economic woes? However, a majority of Republican voters still want someone other than Romney, despite his vast improvement as a candidate his second time around.

Before Rick Perry entered the race, I wondered whether the peculiarities Texas political culture would be a liability for his candidacy. The institutionally weak governorship of Texas requires that a governor who wishes to be effective must walk and talk these peculiarities. This is good for Texas, but often it is the only political maneuver the governor has outside his formally limited constitutional powers. So political culture can become an obsession for a Texas governor, especially if one has held the office for 10 years.

So I think the “Texas thing” is a big stumbling block for a Perry candidacy in its appeal to the persuadable voters that he will need to win in the general election. Obama will surely hit him hard on his allegedly being a dangerous radical—he’ll wave the bloody shirt of secession, which like the hunting lease rock will have racial overtones, and he’ll speak of his crony capitalism, which helps the top 1% and hurts the middle class.

The story about the racially insensitive hunting lease will not go away, even if it is true that the coverage is not completely fair as to Perry’s actual involvement in giving it its name. It is telling that no one has asked the man about his actual opinions and beliefs on race and racism, which, from what I understand, are enlightened. Nonetheless, unlike the rock, this story and its cultural connotations will be hard to paint over, especially if charges of racism and counter-racism come to the fore during the general election.

My admittedly anecdotal experience of perceptions of Texas political culture from people in other states tells me that even if Perry improves in his debating skills, he will have a hard time at persuasion. Effective rhetoric in part relies on the character of the speaker, and it seems that for a majority of American voters, Texas swagger does not instill confidence in the authority of the speaker.

When, without an excessive swagger and twang on my part, I replied to queries that I was from Texas, I have been twice told, “I’m sorry.” That response made me wish I actually wore cowboy boots. It may be that these people are simply ignorant or excessively closed-minded. They never were persuadable in the first place. But it seems that attitudes about Texas, of which Perry will become (is already) an embodiment, make even persuadables less persuadable.

I can only liken these attitudes to those regarding the New York Yankees. Love ‘em or hate ‘em.

But this is the field. I see no chance for Bachmann, Gingrich or Santorum.

More on: Etcetera

Articles by John Presnall

Loading...

Show 0 comments