The New York Times tries to take a bite out of Herman Cain today, but succeeds only in showing that, as with every campaign, a few staffers left and they didn’t like the way they were treated. The paper also shows itself to keep two sets of books when it comes to reporting on candidates long on charisma and short on governing experience.
The Times admits today that “[a]ll presidential candidates make mistakes – including experienced candidates like Mitt Romney – and campaigns are chaotic and unruly by nature,” but it still tries to paint Mr. Cain’s efforts as uniquely jumbled. This is an easier story to write than, say, a comparison of Romney’s 59 point economic plan, Cain’s 9-9-9 and Rick Perry’s modified flat tax.
Herman Cain 2012 is Mike Huckabee 2008 –he’s having fun and making points, and doing so in a way that makes him immensely likeable. The real competition is between Romney and Perry with other candidates playing important roles, but roles whose time is almost past and will be after Iowa and New Hampshire. Putting too much emphasis on campaign screw-ups just isn’t serious reporting.
Nate Silver calls Cain and “outlier,” and asks: “Has there ever been a candidate with such strong polling but such weak fundamentals? Almost certainly not, at least not at this relatively advanced stage of the race.”
This reflects the new age of campaigns where communication abilities, always important, have come to dominate all other considerations including money and endorsements, because news junkies love the show and every day is a new Twitter feed of snark and jokes. Herman Cain has fed an enormous amount of material into the maw, and so his numbers don’t make sense against old expectations.
Neither will they translate into delegates, I suspect, but sometimes it isn’t as hard as reporters make it out to be. Herman Cain is fun, and he’s generally right. He has enormous energy and a sense of humor. He may not be ready to be president, but he was certainly ready to run for president, just like then Senator Obama in 2007. The big difference is that in 2007 MSM supported Obama’s ambitions and that in 2011 MSM pushes back against Cain’s, reflecting the media elite’s valuing of Obama’s Harvard Law/University of Chicago credentials, time in the Illinois State Senate and cup-of-coffee years in the U.S. Senate much more than Cain’s decades in the private sector. Obama’s resume matched the values set of the Manhattan-Beltway media elite, so they put wind into his political sails. Not so with the Hermanator. (Note also that the president’s books were signs of White House readiness. Cain’s merely an expression of his opportunism.)
Go back to the two Times‘ stories linked and read through them substituting “Barack Obama” for “Herman Cain.” Now try and find stories from 2007-2008 that asked the same questions about then Senator Obama and his readiness to be president.
Send me the links, as I cannot find them.