Herman Cain and the experts
Michael Barone looks at the Herman Cain ascendancy, and this is what he sees:
At the moment, national polls show Herman Cain leading or tied for the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. This, despite the fact that he has never won an election, has never held public office (except on a regional Federal Reserve advisory panel), and has shown prodigious ignorance on some important foreign policy and domestic issues.
We in the punditocracy have been attributing Cain’s lead to many conservatives’ resistance to frequent frontrunner Mitt Romney. Many have described Cain as the flavor of the month and have predicted his numbers will collapse, as Michele Bachmann’s and Rick Perry’s have.
Reasonable analysis, as far as it goes. But I think Cain’s current lead is evidence of a larger and longer-range trend that is both heartening and disturbing.
I call it the revolt against the experts.
If Barone is correct about this revolt against the experts, then someone forgot to tell Herman Cain. From an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday night:
He said that he been talking to former ambassadors and national security advisers, and speaking to various experts in order “to get up to speed on some of the situations we have around the world.”
Noting that experts would be available to explain the nitty-gritty details of a foreign policy situation, Cain added, “What a leader must do is be able to state some fundamental principles and a fundamental philosophy, listen to the input, and then make judgments.”
And again, in a Corpus Christi campaign stop the same night:
“Relative to foreign policy, I don’t need to know the details of every one of the issues we face.
“We’ve got plenty of experts who can fill in the details,” Cain said at dinner held by the Nueces County Republican Women.
These are just examples from the past week. Cain’s been using the “experts” line since at least May:
Nobody looks to minor candidate for caution, and Herman Cain’s answer to a question about Afghanistan seems sort of disqualifying, in the minor-candidate stakes: He would, he says, rely on “the experts and their advice and their input.”
“I’m not privy to a lot of confidential information,” he said. “At this point, I don’t know all the facts.”
And in August, Cain criticized Obama’s planned drawdown in Afghanistan in an interview with Iowa’s KTIV:
“The surge was working. Why not let it continue to work? The president didn’t listen to his experts, his generals. That would be the difference between a Herman Cain and a President Obama, is that I will listen to my experts.”
What else is wrong with our current foreign policy course? You guessed it:
“Unfortunately, national security has become far too politicized with our elected officials using the issue as a means to polarize our country as the “war hawks” and the “peace doves.” In response, the safety and morale of our brave men and women in uniform are often at risk for political gain. The judgment of our military experts on the ground is often underutilized in exchange for political purposes.”
Perhaps Republican primary voters looking to revolt against the experts should start looking for a new candidate.