As I plan on writing for the Yale Daily News in the coming week, there is a tremendous case to be made for the candidacy of Herman Cain. As an individual, he presents an economic vision and political candor that are vitally needed for this country. As a candidate, he is an invaluable rebuke of the identity-politics that are crippling our national dialogue as well as an important step forward for the restructuring of qualifications expected of the presidency (business experience trumps elected office/career politicking).
I find great solace in the fact that someone can become president without having to sell their soul in order to first get elected to a lower office (which seems near inevitable with the exception of already-ideologically partial congressional districts). Additionally, I’ve found that Mr. Cain, along with a sound policy agenda, provides an energy of sincerity rather than charisma, standing as a direct opposite to our current president.
Many critique Cain as ill-informed. He has certainly had his missteps answering questions on foreign policy along with other matters (abortion, etc.). To the latter point, it is overwhelmingly clear the confusion on abortion (looking at literally life-long and overwhelmingly documented absolutist pro-life position) stems from a lack of political polish – which, I actually, somewhat find refreshing.
I do agree, though, that Mr. Cain should display a more apparent and genuine interest in informing himself on foreign policy matters. This is a crucial improvement he must accomplish. (On a side-note, though, one should also note that it is very difficult to forge a genuinely informed opinion, such as on specific Afghan-War policy, without the wide array of privileged information Cain correctly points out he doesn’t have.)
But, there’s also a redeeming silver lining to this flaw – his humility and willingness to admit when he doesn’t know something. We can’t expect our President to be an expert on everything. This supposition is one step removed from insisting on our President to solve everything (which, as we know, has had disastrous implications).
Calvin Coolidge, the greatest president of the 20th century, once said: “It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.” Herman Cain admits when he doesn’t know. He admits when he needs help. He is upfront of his strengths, his weaknesses, and everything in between. For a candidate, I find it difficult not to find a more necessary requisite.
So, for the question of the week: Am I crazy? From my end, I’m very disappointed at the lack of intellectual credence Mr. Cain is given. I think he’s a fantastic candidate and would make a very good President. Have I just bought into the hype? Is this a passing trend? Can’t we just ride the Cain Train a little longer before all joining the Romney campaign?
Harry Graver blogs at the Yale Light and Truth. He is a contributor to The College Fix.