Friday, November 11, 2011

A Contrast with Perry and Cain

In the prior post, I noted that in the last year the media seem to be concerned with the intelligence of Governor Palin and Representative Bachmann.  There also seems to be concern with whether they are well-informed.  It is interesting to note that similar concerns don’t seem to get raised with other GOP presidential candidates.

Both  Palin and Bachmann have been portrayed as dumb and ignorant, while there seems to be a presumption of competency among male candidates.  Nowhere is this more glaring than with Governor Rick Perry.   For weeks, Perry has been embarrassing himself in the debates with the inability to remember basic points or coherently finish sentences.  Interestingly, I don’t see media speculation over his intellect.  There has been a lot of reporting of his gaffes, but I see little analysis or commentary about them.  What I have seen seems to steer clear of questioning his smarts.  There have been repeated references to him appearing sleepy.  The insinuation seems to be that if Governor Perry could just get a good nap or if we could hold the darned debates earlier in the day, he would be fine.  There also seems to be suggestion that he just doesn’t have the skills to debate, i.e., it is not a question of ability.  The insinuation seems to be that if Governor Perry could just join a debate club and get some practice, or maybe if he joined Toastmasters, he’d acquire the skills necessary and be ready to go in the debates.  No one acts like Governor Perry is a moron.  I don’t hear people questioning his ability. It is a question of not being rested or not acquiring the right skills.  But can you imagine the media reaction if Governor Palin and/or Representative Bachmann made similar public gaffes?  I sincerely doubt they would get the same benefit of the doubt about their intellectual abilities.

Another interesting contrast involves Herman Cain.  His 9-9-9 tax plan was initially received as an exciting and bold proposal, but it did not withstand scrutiny.  Once tax experts and the media began to study it, it was widely panned as potentially disastrous for low and middle income Americans.  Mr. Cain had to back-peddle and tweak his plan to mitigate the oppressiveness at the lower end of the socio-economic scale.  His plan has not been as popular since it has been publicly dissected, yet I haven’t seen media suggestions that he is dumb or poorly informed.  Indeed, Mr. Cain has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s in computer science from respected private colleges.  Clearly, he is well-credentialed in terms of his educational pedigree.  But multiple fancy degrees have not insulated Representative Bachmann from media insinuations that she is intellectually deficient.

Interestingly, on a separate, but related point, in the 2008 presidential campaign, there was concern that Sarah Palin did not have the experience needed to be president.  It was noted that she had only served on city council and as mayor of a small town, and when Senator McCain chose her as his running mate she had not yet completed a full-term as the governor of Alaska.  It is interesting that that experience was questioned as inadequate in 2008 because it is significantly more experience in public office than Herman Cain has ever had. 

Mr. Cain has never been elected to any public office.  It seems interesting to propose starting one’s governmental career at the very top.  I’m not sure the White House is the place for on-the-job training in the workings of government.  But I don’t see much questioning of the sufficiency of his professional credentials.  Apparently, many believe being a former pizza exec is a sufficient proxy for Commander-in-Chief.   Having worked in the private sector most of my career, I personally doubt that.  A CEO has a lot more control and decision-making leeway than the executive branch of government.  A corporate board of directors tends to be a lot more compliant than the House of Representatives and the Senate.  If elected, I would think that more restricted role would be a huge shock to Mr. Cain and he would find it difficult to lead with such narrow powers.

Romans 11:29

God’s gifts and calling can’t be taken back.

1 comment:

  1. It is sadly apparent that the average person conflates an ability to physically speak coherently with the intellect of the speaker (the obvious demonstration of why this notion is incorrect is to attend a lecture given by Dr. Stephen Hawking). What the general populace does not perceive is that the candidate in question is parsing language which is designed by campaign professionals to reach specific demographics with specific messages.

    Another component to this issue is that some candidates specifically want to appear as less intelligent. This choice plays on the fear that liberal city dwelling elites look down upon regular middle American "country folk,” at a time when candidates are trying to specifically appeal to the middle American and rural populace. One positive to the candidate’s choice to appear less than intelligent is the ability to politically lay claim to the mantel of an outsider.

    In the admitted and actual liberal media the intellect of Mr. Perry, Mr. Cain and Mr. Santorum as well as the intellect of Palin and Bachmann have been thoroughly attacked based upon the positions they have taken. Such examples of this media are the radio programs of Randy Rhodes, Tom Hartman and others. Unfortunately these criticisms of intellect are usually couched in terms of questioning the honesty of the presenter.