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November 03, 2011

2nd Payout Figure Revealed -- $45,000, Also Around a Year's Pay


A lot of people are angry that this blog has given any credence at all to this story, or has even mentioned it.

What is the alternative suggested? A simple embargo?

What purpose would that serve? All that would happen is that readers would go to Politico and liberal sites (and non-participating embargo-refusing conservative sites) to get the latest details.

I'm not sure what the plan is. If I had to guess, it's this: Cain supporters know that if he becomes the nominee, the whole party will be obligated to spin like the Dickens for him. As we had to with John McCain, once he became the nominee. We had to make peace with his obnoxious flaws and put a positive light on everything.

So is the plan that we try to keep this information from conservatives, so that conservative voters don't have it (or don't trust it, if they hear it), so they all just vote for Cain without the relevant information, and then, when he's captured the nomination, everyone, whether Cain supporter or Cain skeptic/opponent, will be obligated to be on the same page as far as spinning the story/defending him?

If so, that sounds like the "plan" being offered by Cain supporters is to get the rest of the party a little bit (actually, a lot) pregnant with Cain, and, once pregnant with him, thereby forced to do a bunch of things we might otherwise not have done.

That doesn't sound very honest to me -- springing an unfair surprise on the rest of the party.

I don't know what Cain did or did not do, yet. But I do know I want this information before we select a candidate. Maybe what Cain did is fairly forgivable and pedestrian, a semi-nothingburger, and we can agree that this only makes him slightly damaged but otherwise a good candidate. Maybe in that case we can make a knowing judgement about whether to select him, and take his flaws as well as his strengths.

Some people are debating that very issue right now with Newt Gingrich (and Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney, and the rest of the flawed candidates).

But the key is making a knowing decision, knowing the promise and the baggage of a particular candidate.

I get the feeling that some are so on the Cain Train they've decided the rest of us don't need to know, and should just suck it up, whatever the ultimate facts turn out to be.

Well, I think that's kooky. I have said before that I do not understand this certitude that Cain is such a great conservative candidate -- I have challenged supporters to offer up examples of his great articulation of conservative principles, and no one has met the challenge.

Here's what I think has really happened:

1. We start with the premise that There must be a great conservative candidate we can get excited about, there must be; it couldn't be the case that the current field is simply weaker than usual when we need it to be stronger than usual.

2. We know the least about Herman Cain, for good or for ill.

3. All of the other candidates, who we know better, are not Great Conservative Candidates.

3. Since there must be a Great Conservative Candidate, and we know the least about Herman Cain, and we know the others are not Great Conservative Candidates, then, putting all our premises together, It must be the case that Herman Cain is a Great Conservative Candidate.

And this is why the largely unknown Cain, who stumbles over extremely basic questions about abortion and trading every Gitmo prisoner for a single hostage, is assumed to be, despite the evidence on the table, a Great Conservative Candidate.

But I don't buy that. I think the syllogism fails at step one: It is not, in fact, necessarily true that we must have a Great Conservative Candidate. That is merely what we wish. (That is why I got so in the bag for Perry, by the way; I subscribed to this syllogism myself, and decided that Perry must be our shining hope. Turns out, of course, that he is very flawed.)

I don't intend to say, or believe, that Herman Cain isn't a potentially good candidate. What I am objecting to is this unstated assumption, which I do think is lurking around, that we must have a Great Conservative Candidate among us, and oh, I guess it must be Cain, then.

I'm still waiting to hear the great articulation of conservative principles from him that should be natural for a real Great Conservative Candidate. Honestly, I never hear anything particularly interesting or persuasive from him.

It just seems like he's the Outsider, and of course the Outsider must be the best candidate.

I forget who, but a commenter put it very well. He said something like, "It doesn't bother me that Cain doesn't have any experience in government office. It bothers me a great deal that he doesn't have any experience in campaigning for a government office."

Now, actually, Cain did run for Senate in 2004, but he didn't even win the primaries, so 1, he didn't do a particularly good job of it, and 2, he didn't get the increase scrutiny of being a general election candidate.

So, for all intents and purposes, this is the first real scrutiny Cain has gotten.

What that commenter meant was that if you campaign for high office, at least there's a good chance that most of your skeletons have already fallen from your closet.

If you haven't, then your entire past life is a great big Black Box of surprises. Sometimes there will be no bad surprises. Sometimes there will be a very, very minor bad surprise, as with Joe Miller and his stupid Freeping of an online poll. (And in that case, Miller's inexperience with campaigning cost him badly, since he made such a big deal of that himself, acting like he had something big to hide, and wound up seeming shifty -- over nothing.)

Sometimes there will be bad surprises in that Black Box.

So that was this guy's point. A lot of Tea Partiers are very, very firm on the idea that they do not want any professional politicians or people with experience in government. Untainted by the system.

Well, such people may be untainted by the system, but they're also so far unvetted by the system, and it is foolish to expect that there aren't going to be problems in people's pasts. People are flawed, often badly flawed. There are relatively few exemplary individuals among us -- some, but a minority. Few people can look good under a very high-powered microscope.

There are upsides to pure political neophytes. But there are also downsides.

At any rate: Since I don't support Cain it's rather easy for me to say "I'd like to know all the facts." After all, I've got no skin in the game. Won't hurt me if the facts wind up damning him (and actually, that would "help" me, as I've never been on the Cain Train anyway).

But even though it's easy for me to take that position, what possible other position can one take, even if a Cain supporter?

Can you really take the position that conservative media outlets should withhold relevant information from its audience, so that people are intentionally disabled from making knowing, informed decisions?

I have to tell you I was getting kind of worried about this story, because I knew (or believed I knew) it was coming at some point, and yet hadn't broke yet. What was the media up to?, I wondered. Were they going to suppress the story through the primaries and only "discover" it after Cain had won the nomination?

I'm sure everyone remembers how the NYT campaigned for John McCain to get the Republican nomination -- and then, weeks after he secured it, dropped a story implying that McCain had had a long term affair with a lobbyist.

They could have published that months before. But they held it. Because they wanted him to win the nomination, and then they wanted to destroy him.

As much as you might not like Politico, it being obviously a Democratic water-carrying outfit, at least they did not pull a NYT special and hold the story until after Cain was well on his way to winning the nomination.

We should know these things. Some secrets may remain secret. But if some secrets are guaranteed to come out -- and this one seems to have been absolutely guaranteed to come out -- we should know about them sooner rather than later.

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posted by Ace at 02:38 PM

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