30 October 2011

If Cain represents rebellion against "experts," Obama represented rebellion against reality

In a recent column, Michael Barone assesses support for Herman Cain as a symptom of a trend towards distrust of "experts." He even - perhaps rightly - suggests that Romney's resume is thin compared to previous nominees.

I am getting a little tired of this meme in political commentary. It seems to me that this is less a distrust of expertise, than it is seeking after the right sort of expertise. Cain has been a CEO of a large corporation, and served in appointed office on the Federal Reserve. Recent trend? Republicans previously nominated a man known for his business record who had only previously served in appointed office - in 1928. (I note this advisedly, since that nominee was Herbert Hoover.)

Voters may be right or wrong to weigh foreign affairs more lightly than economic concerns right now, but it seems to me that this is the explanation for Cain's popularity. He has plenty of expertise, but in the real world - a place to which the current president has few apparent ties.

It is not unreasonable to view the flailing, failing disaster of the Obama Administration and conclude that the area of expertise we should seek for the presidency is not to be found at Harvard Law. Herman Cain may or may not be the right man for the presidency, but if he is not, it isn't because he lacks proper experience or knowledge. He has plenty of both for voters concerned about the government's increasing strangulation of the economy.

If there was ever a year when voters chose a naive, inexperienced man with no clear expertise in anything, it was 2008. The presidency is now the job Obama has held longer than any other in his life. He has education, but almost no real-world experience in or out of government. He did go to all the right schools, I guess.

Cain's popularity - and, for that matter, Romney's steadiness in the polls - suggests not that voters are abandoning experts, but that they seek candidates with expertise outside of government. You know, in the real world.

16 October 2011

The OWSers don't make me angry; they make me sad

I hate to even give this "movement" more attention, since the MSM are headlining them despite small numbers and a message which is, to put it charitably, inchoate.

I wish it were not too late to coin the phrase "rebel without a clue," because it is absolutely perfect for this crowd.

I saw this picture from the Detroit off-shoot of OWS over at NRO this morning:


Make the banks pay for education? Seriously? Are these people former contestants from the Tonight Show's "Jaywalking" segments?

It brought to mind one of my soldiers back in my Army days. He and his wife had to attend financial counseling because they had been bouncing checks. They were really confused about how that could be happening, because, they said, "we still have lots of checks left."

When my daughter was small, on one occasion we told her we could not buy something because we didn't have enough money. "Go to the bank and get some," was the obvious solution - to my three-year-old.

Some commentators have gone out of their way to express sympathy for the sad stories posted over at the 99% blog, suggesting that they put a real human face on "the Great Recession." I've read through a bunch of them, too, and I have not found, for the most part, that there is a whole lot to connect those stories specifically to the current economy. Most are divided between three categories: truly sad stories, which could happen in any time; problems brought on by stupid decisions; and "we are the lucky ones" statements by people who are personally fine, but "ashamed" of their country.

We are the ninety-nine percent? Try 100%. All people have sadness in their lives - that is a constant of the human condition. We should all be more sympathetic and and helpful to each other; we should all "be kind," as Philo of Alexandria said, "for everyone is fighting a great battle."

But my sympathy evaporates when you angrily demand that "the banks" make you whole because somebody in your family got sick, or when you insist that your $120,000 in school loans be forgiven because you just learned that your lifelong dream of being a social worker makes your decision to borrow it look pretty stupid in retrospect. Those are not moral or political demands, they are mere selfishness; a symptom of our increasingly narcissistic culture.

Ultimately, the OWSers are really no different that Willie Sutton. They protest the banks because that's where the money is. At least Willie was honest about it.

I understand rage at the unfairness of life. We all go through that, to some extent, when we are growing up.  One mark of maturity is that you grow out of that. The more you see of the world around you, the more you understand that "it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."

Someday, maybe, they'll understand that.

11 October 2011

The new frontrunner, Herman Cain (mostly) holds his own

I'm not sure who won the debate, but I am pretty sure it wasn't the heckler at the end.

If Rick Perry had performed like this in his first debate, he might have held onto front-runner status. Not that he did anything particularly impressive, he just didn't fall apart. Given that this was his fourth debate, and the other candidates aren't even bothering to attack him any more, I don't think it as enough to revive his standing. And even if it does, I still don't think he'll be able to handle attacks.

Herman Cain certainly appeared to be a frontrunner, as his 9-9-9 plan (not from outer space) was singled out for criticism by nearly everybody, and Ron Paul chose to be Cain's Secret Santa during the candidate smackdown segment. On the one hand, Cain was in no way intimidated by the attacks, and, unlike Perry in earlier debates, also did not seem surprised at the criticism. I thought his "three reasons" response to Santorum, while strong in presentation, was a bit weak on the substance. His response to Paul, in which he denied making some statements Paul had referenced, and agreed with a need to audit the Fed, was fine, but he may have hurt himself later with his praise for Greenspan. We'll see if this dents his Tea Party support.

Romney's strategy throughout the night was to try to elevate himself and avoid attacks on people who are actual threats. His question, directed at Michele Bachmann, was fairly gentle, and allowed her to give a decent response. He replied to an early Huntsman criticism by characterizing it as the opinion of "some people." I think he is hoping not to draw too much fire, and keep a strong enough position to narrow the field after the early primaries.

This has simply got to be the last debate where Huntsman gets a seat at the table. I shouldn't have to explain that.

Santorum has turned in some good performances in these debates, but I don't think tonight was his best. I don't think he scored any points on Cain, although that seemed to be his goal.

The biggest question I've got is: "How many stellar debate performances will it take before people forget the 1990s and take Newt seriously as a presidential candidate?"

Now I know whose kids are occupying Wall Street

I saw this comment on Facebook, and it really threw me for a loop. No name, because I don't know the guy, but here is his comment:

I don't care about the spending issue. I care about equality. Shut everyone up and institute a 15% flat tax across the board, no matter who you are, how much you make, with no loopholes. Oh but wait, then the rich would start to complain they are paying a disproportionate share because they make more, therefore are paying more. How would that be unfair?

When I read a comment like the one above, made by a middle-aged, employed person, I wonder just how many voters out there are this incapable of processing the most basic facts of their own lives, and the world they live in.

I hesitate to use this word, because "uninformed" is much more polite, but if you are still this uninformed by middle age, you are not ignorant; you are stupid.

This guy really doesn't understand that a 15% flat rate would be a tax cut for millionaires? He is not aware that 47% of Americans pay no Federal income tax at all? He thinks it is the upper end of the income curve that would gnash its teeth over his flat tax? He thinks the politicians talking about "fair shares" are talking about a flat tax?

Wow. Just wow.

Now I know whose kids are occupying Wall Street.