Monday, October 31, 2011

Herman "Surface Man" Cain Does D.C.

Herman Cain visited Washington D.C. today. Among the stops he made was one to the National Press Club. It was the first opportunity for me to see Cain up close.

It's clear he is very charismatic and very comfortable in front of crowds. Before his formal speech began, he was backslapping people, laughing and having a grand old time.

If the race comes down to Barack Obama versus Herman Cain, Michelle Obama should start packing. Cain is a presence, he can speak without a telepromoter and he seems to have a personality that reminds me of another surface man, Ronald Reagan.

Like Reagan, Cain talks a lot about freedom, but I'm not sure he understands what he is saying. At one point, to my amazement, he said that he was in favor of freedom the way the founding fathers were, that as long as a person didn't bother someone elese a person should be free to do whatever he wants. A line stolen from Ron Paul, if there ever was one. I was hoping the moderator/questioner would follow up by asking Cain, if this freedom applied to all drugs as well, like heroin and LSD, to see just how consistent Cain is next to Ron Paul, but I don't think Cain or the moderator understood the depth of Cain's comment.

At another point, Cain was asked a not very technical economic question and Cain yielded and brought up to the podium Richard Lowrie, the Wells Fargo Ohio-based financial planner who was instrumental in Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan. Cain, btw, introduced Lowrie as his "chief economic adviser".

When it came to the housing crisis, Cain blamed it all on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and didn't bring up Fed money printing or the business cycle at all.

Curiously though, a later question was raised about student loans. He took an almost tough luck stance for students on the subject and did not link the ballooning loans to the quasi government agency Sallie Mae, which is a major part of the problem because it is guaranteeing student loans the way Fannie Mae guaranteed housing loans.

Expect him to change his tune on student loans once he is briefed on the topic, but it illustrates how much of a surface guy he is. He is blaming Fannie Mae for the housing crash (after the fact), but has no clue the same thing is going on now in the student loan market via Sallie Mae.
Surface man he is, but that is what appeals to much of the general public?

Even down to Cain's moving the shells around the table tax plan, Cain and Reagan have a lot in common. Rothbard wrote of Reagan: e
ver to raise taxes while raising them all the time.
I fear it will be the same in a Cain presidency. I fear that what Rothbard wrote about Reagan will apply to Cain with just a change of dates and names:
I am convinced that the historic function of Ronald Reagan was to co-opt, eviscerate and ultimately destroy the substantial wave of anti-governmental, and quasi-libertarian, sentiment that erupted in the U.S. during the 1970s. Did he perform this task consciously? Surely too difficult a feat for a man barely compos. Reagan was wheeled into performing this task by his Establishment handlers.
The task of co-optation needed to be done because the 1970s, particularly 1973–75, were marked by an unusual and striking conjunction of crisis – crises that fed on each other to lead to a sudden and cumulative disillusionment with the federal government.
The Reagan candidacy of 1980 was brilliantly designed to weld a coalition providing the public’s instinctive anti-government mood with sweeping, but wholly nonspecific, libertarian rhetoric, as a convenient cover for the diametrically opposite policies designed to satisfy the savvy and politically effective members of that coalition: the neocons, the Buckleyite cons, the Moral Majority, the Rockefellers, the military-industrial complex, and the various Establishment special interests always clustering at the political trough.



  1. Wow! What insight by Rothbard. I've been pondering why Reagan got elected on the platform of less government, etc. but couldn't quite put it together. This makes a lot of sense. I agree that Cain is also an Establishment pawn. He, Romney, Bachmann, Gingrich...they're all the same candidate: robots for the CFR.

  2. Cain is such a phony. There is no way his rise can last. Unless Americans are more gullible than I think.

  3. Yep, the Reagan administration rapidly GREW the size of government.

    All the great speeches however mean we're forever slapped over the head with how "Reaganomics" didn't work so good!

  4. Cain is amazing in his inconsistancy. He is as Romney-esque as Romney, talking out of both sides of his mouth. "I am against abortion but I would leave it up to the individual" is like saying "I'm against murder but I'll leave it up to the murderer..."

    At least Ron Paul recognizes the federal government has no jurisdiction, that it is a state matter. Cain... not so much.

  5. Texas Chris

    I do not like recreational drugs and do not use them. The decision to use them or not is a matter for the individual to decide. That is my position and I understand that is Ron Paul's position also. Of course, according to your formulations such is akin to murder...

    Something for you to consider: analogy is "similar to", not "the same as."

    Think on it.


  6. Cain will be our next President.

  7. Sione,
    The view on drug use cannot be akin to murder or abortion, because murder and abortion are acts of violence against another person, whereas drug use potentially hurts only yourself. If drug use leads to violence, it is the violence that should be considered the crime and thus be condemned.

  8. In all of the Reagan bashing, I think it is important to note, as a reminder, (since it is all but totally unknown or forgotten by Americans of both parties) that one of Reagan's first tasks in office was to create the Grace Commission. He brought dozens of captains of industry....the corporate world and even some Big Labor who gave, I believe 18-24 mo of their time at $ 1/00/yr salary to conduct the most in-depth review and analysis of The Federal Govt/Bureaucracy ever attempted. In the end, they produced a report containing, as I recall, over 2,200 specific recommendations to cut government. Interestingly, it did not purport to eliminate any programs or benefits, but eliminate waste and duplicity which was and is rampant throughout the govt as pencil pushes in agency B duplicate those in bureaucracy A, to what end? he then pushed for enactment of these but, the American voter in typical style, rejected the temporary Republican majority he had for only his 1st 2 years in office....the first such majority, as I recall, in many decades. The Grace Commission Report was released in time for the Democrats to take back control of both houses. Thereafter, the best "The Great Communicator" could get passed was something between 6 and 12 of over 2,200 proposals. Now, bear in mind, Reagan is always fingered, especially by the left, but also libertarians, for having ballooned the budget. Please remember that under the poorest Pres (to that date) Jimmy (I hate the military and never met anything I'm not prepared to give away to appease anyone outside the U.S.) Carter, our military had been grossly weakened and our intelligence community destroyed, along with much of our economy. So Reagan had to rebuild the military and rightly surmised he could "break" the fragile Soviet economy in doing so and with it, The Soviet Union itself....fate accomplish' (sp). But, studies showed that had even HALF of the 2,200+ recommendations been passed, he could've done everything he did in military expansion, and more than balanced the budget, instead of creating the huge deficit, courtesy of the stubborn, spending left. This fact is NEVER discussed by anyone, other than me, for some odd reason.