The Other McCain

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

Don’t Overthink It, Byron

Posted on | May 16, 2011 | 20 Comments

Byron York has a wonderful interview with Herman Cain, keying off the South Carolina debate:

Republican pollster Frank Luntz conducted a focus group on Fox News and found near-unanimous agreement that Cain was the winner. “I’ve done maybe 35 or 40 of these debates for Fox, and I’ve never had this kind of reaction,” Luntz said. “Something very special happened this evening.”
Many political insiders viewed the debate mostly as an opportunity for former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty to move up into the first tier of GOP candidates. Instead, people left Greenville’s Peace Center talking about Herman Cain — a result that few participants, including Cain himself, could have predicted.

Well, I may not be one of those “political insiders,” but having predicted Cain’s South Carolina debate victory in advance, I’m surprised that Byron York didn’t give me a call to say, “Stacy, how did you know? What is the secret of your insightful prescience?”

Never mind the un-asked questions, however. Byron then whips out the Rorshach inblot analysis:

A mostly unspoken but possibly consequential factor in Cain’s appeal to conservative voters is his race. Cain is a black Republican — a pretty rare thing in itself — seeking to challenge the nation’s first black president. . . .
[M]any Republicans have internalized the Democratic/liberal criticism that they oppose Obama because he is black and that whenever they attack the president on this or that issue, the real motivation behind it is race. Herman Cain, they believe, could take it to Obama without all that racial baggage.

Byron, you’re thinking too hard, man. Leave the psychobabble to the liberals, who specialize in that kind of stuff.

People like Herman Cain because — wait for it — they like Herman Cain.

He’s an immensely likeable guy, as was obvious to anyone hanging around the lobby bar before CPAC:

After Cain arrived last night, he was quickly surrounded by CPAC attendees eager to shake his hand and get their photos taken with the guy I introduced to my friends as The Next President of the United States.

You don’t have to be a “political insider” or a Ph.D. psychologist to see that kind of stuff. Ordinary Americans don’t think like intellectuals think, which is why the alleged experts are so often mystified by simple phenomena. (Basic economics, for example. Paul Krugman’s got a Nobel Prize and still can’t figure out why Keynesianism doesn’t work.)

If we have to “go there” with the race issue, I like what Andrew Breitbart said in his Heritage Foundation speech:

Breitbart . . . wants radio host Herman Cain and Freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) on the 2012 GOP ticket. . . .
“The only way to defeat political correctness and cultural marxism and multiculturalism is to aim straight at its head,” Breitbart said.

The beauty of the Breitbart approach is that liberals see a quote like that and say to themselves, “Give me a break. They wouldn’t actually do that, would they?”

Because it’s too damned simple. It’s like the fullback dive on fourth-and-goal. But the fullback dive is the perfect play, if you have confidence in your team. Forget the razzle-dazzle — just give the ball to the fullback and run it right at ’em.

There’s no point worrying about the psychological symbolism of a Cain candidacy when you consider the likely alternative. What all the clever GOP pundits like Charles Krauthammer want to do is to re-run the Bob Dole ’96 campaign: Find some bland non-entity, hire a bunch of speechwriters and consultants, and run a boring, predictable campaign that ends in defeat so that, four years later, Republicans nominate somebody named “Bush.”

Screw that noise. Here’s what I wrote on Nov. 13, 2010:

[I]f you want a successful businessman for the 2012 GOP nomination, how about a dark horse? . . .
Yeah: Herman Cain. Having backed a few can’t-possibly-win underdogs in the past couple of years — I went all-in for Rubio when he was 35 points down — I’m taking a long, hard look at that dark horse.

People thought I was crazy. Mainly because I am crazy, but sometimes the smartest move you can make is to do something that everybody else says is crazy. Now here we are, six months later: Herman Cain won the first big GOP debate, he’s got Andrew Breitbart in his corner, and Byron York is making the pilgrimage to Atlanta to interview the candidate that none of the experts thought would be a major factor in 2012.

Somebody ought to hit the hell out of my tip jar. This kind of insightful prescience has got to be worth something.


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