Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The nominee has to be ready for prime time

The consensus among conservative observers is that Mitt Romney won the debate last night with a polished performance. His answers were smooth and he countered the many jabs he got from the others on the stage. I might disagree with some of his policies and dislike Romneycare, but Republicans have to like the idea of having a guy up on the debate stage whom they don't have to hold their breath hoping that he won't make a gaffe. I guess dumb people don't earn simultaneous law degrees and MBA's from Harvard. Romney displayed his confidence throughout and took the frontrunner approach in the questioning round. While the other candidates took the opportunity to ask questions of those they regarded as their competitors - mostly Romney, Perry, or Cain, Romney just tossed a softball to Michele Bachmann. Of course, Romney would like Bachmann to stay in the race as long as possible and help to divide up the more conservative vote while he holds on to the more centrist vote. That was the sign of a confident candidate.

Rick Perry was almost a nonentity at the debate. He promised to be delivering an economic plan in a few days. Really? He couldn't have the plan ready to roll out before the debate so he could refer to it and send people perhaps to his website to read more about it?

But if we're going to criticize Perry for not being ready, it's only fair to call out Herman Cain for his little tease show when asked about his economic advisers. I've heard him interviewed several times and asked about his economic plan and who helped him devise it or whom he turns to for economic advice. He referred to one adviser last night.
MS. TUMULTY: Mr. Cain, who do you turn to for political advice and for economic advice?

MR. CAIN: My advisers come from the American people. Now, I will have some experts. One of my experts that helped me to develop this is a gentleman by the name of Rich Lowry out of Cleveland, Ohio. He is an economist, and he has worked in the business of wealth creation most of his career. I also have a number of other well- recognized economists that helped me to develop this 9-9-9 plan. It didn't come off a pizza box, no.
Notice that he doesn't give any particulars about who this Mr. Lowry is. Cain has done this before. It turns out that it's not Lowry, but Lowrie. He is Rich Lowrie. And here is his Linked-in profile. That's fine, but doesn't he have more than one guy that he's talking to before he puts forth a plan to totally remake the entire revenue system of the United States?

But then when he talked about whom he'd nominate in place of Ben Bernanke to be Chairman of the Federal Reserve, he did more of this rather adolescent "I've got a secret" teasing about whom he'd nominate.
Now, on that same point, I have already identified two candidates, which I cannot give their names, to replace the -- Bernanke in anticipation of having that responsibility. We must narrow the mission of the Fed first. I don't believe in ending the Fed; I believe we can fix the Fed by getting their mission re-focused on monetary price stability. And I have candidates in mind that will help us do that.

MS. GOLDMAN: So you have two appointments waiting in the wings for -- for 2013, for this -- when his --

MR. CAIN: Yes.

MS. GOLDMAN: -- term is up, 2014?

MR. CAIN: Yes. I have two candidates waiting in the wings to take that job.

MS. GOLDMAN: How about a hint?

MR. CAIN: I got to keep them confidential.
Now, admittedly, it's a stupid question. No candidate is going to name his future appointments before he even receives the nomination. But why play these games? He could describe the qualities and views that he'd be looking for and leave it at that.

While those games by Cain give the impression of his campaign is not quite ready for prime time, it is the Perry candidacy that is really pitiful in its unreadiness. When asked about his economic plan and why he didn't have one ready, here was his defense:
A president, particularly with the plan that I’m going to be laying out over the next three days — and I’m not going to lay it out all for you tonight — Mitt has had six years to be working on a plan. I have been in this for about eight weeks.
Oh, please! This isn't a college research paper assignment that Perry was forced to pull an all-nighter for. It was his decision to run for president. He knew that the focus of the election was the economy. Did he and his advisers really think it was enough to rattle off some statistics about Texas's economy and leave it at that without talking about how he'd bring that economic growth to the entire nation? Stop whining that you just got in and haven't had time to get ready for debates or preparing an economic plan. The GOP electorate is not looking for the guy with the best excuse for not being ready yet.

Perry has given more evidence for the Peter Principle - he's a man who has risen to his level of incompetence. He might be excellent as the Texas governor, but he's not ready for prime time.

Rick Perry's collapse is more evidence of the wisdom of Dirty Harry.
A man's got to know his limitations.