The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Dept. of Not Getting It

Posted on | May 6, 2011 | 31 Comments

Frum Forum contributor Noah Kristula-Green has a post about last night’s GOP debate titled, “Why is Pawlenty On Stage With These Crazy People?” Kristula-Green includes this statement:

Herman Cain was not someone I gave high marks to during the debate but he “won” the Frank Luntz focus group that came on immediately after the debate. Cain would consistently answer his question giving a bullet-point response, arguing that you need to “identify the problem” before solving “the problem.” For whatever reason, this seemed to appeal to the focus group.

Yeah: Pragmatism is so . . . impractical.

Kristula-Green’s “conventional wisdom” about the Greenville debate was expressed by Ben Smith of Politico, who dismissed the other participants as “second- and third-tier candidates” and said Pawlenty was “widely viewed as the only candidate in Thursday night’s Fox News debate with any real chance of becoming the nominee of his party or President of the United States.”

“Widely viewed” is one of those phrases like “many observers” by which reporters embed conventional-wisdom opinions into their stories as if they were talking about established facts. In campaign coverage, this is a way of privileging the punditry over actual voters.

Tim Pawlenty is widely viewed as lame and boring, which is why many observers believe that Obama would mop the floor with him if the Minnesota governor actually got the Republican nomination.

Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining, sources say.

CBS News was also stunned by Cain’s focus-group win. I don’t know why this seems so shocking to some people. As Cain’s spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael has been saying for weeks, “When people meet Herman, they like Herman.”

This is something the pundits might notice if they actually paid attention. I remember last year in New Orleans at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, when Cain’s speech was over, he had the darnedest time getting out of the ballroom because so many well-wishers wanted a chance to shake his hand and talk to him. And that happens at every gathering of Republicans he attends. He’s a likeable guy, very down-to-earth and approachable, and people relate to that.

Fire Andrea Mitchell was impressed with Cain.


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