Now that Bill Gardner, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State (and my favorite Democrat), has set our presidential primary for January 10, I suppose I should start thinking about who I will vote for on that day. I don’t feel like endorsing any candidate at this point, but I definitely have my preferences.
Herman Cain: Cain has a LOT of things going for him. For one, he’s got an education that actually means something — a Bachelor’s in Mathematics, a Master’s in Computer Science, and worked for the Navy calculating ballistics — which means the man has some serious intellectual heft.
For another, he’s got a serious record of accomplishment. And not in politics, but in the real world. He knows how to motivate people, inspire people, and get things done. This account shows that Cain is a hell of a good leader and businessman.
For another, Cain is NOT a career lawyer or politician. That shows when he speaks off the cuff — he’s candid, honest, and forthright. He doesn’t use weasel words, doesn’t evade, doesn’t dodge. If he doesn’t want to talk about something, he will just say so — and mean it.
It also means that sometimes he doesn’t quite get things right. He might make a misstatement, might bobble a fact or two, or just get things wrong. I’m cool with that — because most of the time, he corrects himself. You know, like a human being, not a career pol with a law degree (not that I’m pointing any fingers here, of course).
It also means that every now and then, he’ll say something that’s “too honest” for most people. He won my heart when he referred to the “so-called Palestinians” — a reference to the lack of history of who are now called “Palestinians.” The next time someone talks about the “historical ties of the Palestinians” to the Holy Land, ask them a few questions about those ties. Ask them about the Palestinians’ history, their rulers, their relations with other nations, momentous events, or even their currency. Their inability to respond will prove greatly entertaining.
As far as the current sexual-harassment charges against Cain… I’m content in ignoring them for now. The utter lack of details so far would embarrass any professional journalist. At least, any professional journalist who wasn’t far more interested in collecting another conservative scalp than in discovering the truth. That could change, of course, but for right now I don’t consider them worth consideration. Especially since they are such a tiny part of Cain’s history.
And then there’s the intangible — Cain’s undeniable charisma. He’s damned likable. And that means a hell of a lot in electoral politics.
Rick Perry: He’s my second choice right now. He’s a career politician, but he’s got a real record of accomplishments in office that would (or, at least, should) make Candidate Obama blush. He’s clear on his positions, and not afraid to admit when he makes mistakes and corrects them. He’s a tough campaigner, which he’ll need to go up against Obama. And historically speaking, being a governor — especially of a large state — is pretty good training for the presidency. Certainly more than four years as a Senator.
Mitt Romney: The choice of my head, not my heart. There’s a part of me that sees Romney as “the most electable” candidate, and grudgingly agreeing with the GOP establishment. But while I find Romney’s own character quite impeccable (I can’t see him personally involved in any scandals), he’s surrounded himself with some truly underhanded swine and let them run his campaign. Further, the “squeaky-clean” aspect reminds me disturbingly of Jimmy Carter — and that is NOT a good precedent. I still think that Romney would be ideal as Secretary of the Treasury or Secretary of Commerce, but not the top job. Sorry, Mitt. I know you’re a neighbor (he owns a home in New Hampshire), but you’re my third choice — at best.
The rest of the field fills me with a colossal “meh.” In 2008, I voted for a long shot — Fred Thompson — because he really grabbed me on an emotional level. I’m willing to go with a long shot if there’s something about that candidate really appeals to me, and none of the rest do. And there are a couple on my “hell, no!” list — Ron Paul is permanently stuck on that list, and Michele Bachmann is right on the cusp of it.
But I’m not going to worry too much about it. I still have two months to kick it around.