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Why Does the Right Adore Herman Cain?

Cain is the most interesting candidate the GOP has yet fielded, and his rise to prominence is an important sign of the times.

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2. Business. The “experts be damned” position is bolstered by Cain’s own status as a businessman (and a CV he proudly points out is devoid of public service).


Luntz’s respondents raved that, “He understood about defining a problem and then coming up with a solution” and “He knew exactly… how to outline the problem and find the solution and find the people to solve the problem.” It would have been nice if someone had asked them to identify a problem he had solved. Instead, one suspects they developed this impression because Cain is constantly encouraging them to.


“One of the things that I’ve always prided myself on is making an informed decision based upon knowing all of the facts.” He detailed his process in this regard more than once in the debate. “How about sending a problem-solver to the White House? How about someone who has a career of defining the right problem, assigning the right priority, surrounding yourself with the right people… and fourth, putting together the plans, and then being able to engage the American public in these common sense solutions.”


As chairman and then CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Cain flexed his managerial prowess, returning the company from a slump to profitability. (The slogan “A Pizza You Can’t Refuse” and similar slogans raise their own questions about the appropriateness of a Nebraskan pizza company, not owned by Italians, whose food is available at Hess stations, invoking mafia stereotypes for publicity.) Cain's boast holds quite an allure for the type of audience that can be made to affirm the cinematic excellence of Atlas Shrugged, but a nation increasingly suspicious of CEOs (the culprits, not the heroes, in the economic crisis) might be a tougher crowd, especially since his Godfather business strategy included  layoffs and store closures.


3. God. As Randian as any Republican candidate might aspire to be, he would have to be masochistic to propound the great Ayn’s  views on the divine (“I am against God”). For Cain, the rags-to-riches family history he recounts is attributable equally to that much over-praised author and a certain Nazarene carpenter. “You can achieve your American dreams, if you believe in God,” Cain pronounced, implying that liberals, whom he accuses of "[attacking] the American Dream,” are doing the work of Satan.


(“The objective of the liberals is to destroy this country,” he said at CPAC. “They have only three tactics: S, I, N. They Shift the subject, they Ignore the facts, and they Name-call. Am I right? That’s all they do.”)


Cain depicts his parents as shoeless farm workers who, through lots of hard work and old-time religion, were able to scrape enough together to raise Herman and his younger brother, Thurman. “What my parents were able to do inspires me, because they wanted us to get a little bit better start than they did. And we did.” Absent from this assessment: the primary factors contributing to Cain’s generation’s relative ease in the world were the federal government intervening in economic and civil matters, a robust welfare state, and a coordinated left-wing black rights movement that conservatives derided, imprisoned and beat as furiously as they could.


But the God that movement preached – the liberation theology sort of God – is unrecognizable in Cain’s spirituality. I wrote of his SRLC speech last year:


Diagnosed in 2007 with stage four cancer affecting his colon and liver, Cain attributes his continued life to two factors. Firstly, God didn’t let him die on the grounds that Cain had more work to do (God presumably finds that the millions of children who suffer and die of cancer have pretty much accomplished what they meant to, to say nothing of Cain’s fellow adults) and, secondly, the fact that ObamaCare wasn’t around then, and it – though by what means remains a mystery – would surely have killed him (ObamaCare is evidently a mountain so mightily evil that God Himself isn’t able to surmount it).

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