Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Who is the fiscally-sane candidate?

Jerry Stratton, October 12, 2011

At the risk of standing athwart the Fred Thompson narrative and futilely crying “stop”, this “teasing” narrative is bullshit. Palin didn’t say “no, no, no” over several months and then say, “hey, you know what? Yes” like Perry did. She didn’t say “no, no, no” and then call a press conference for a few days later just to say “no” again, like Christie did. That’s teasing. I don’t blame either of them for handling things that way: teasing is the way the game is played in Washington. But it’s annoying that Palin is getting criticized for teasing precisely because she refused to play the game and tease.

Barring some major upheaval, the Republican candidate will either be Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, or Herman Cain. There’s a chance that Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich will throw an upset once the primaries start, but I just don’t see Newt doing it even in a standard primary, and with the compression of the primary season the primary is going to be fought in the polls, so an upset will be much more difficult.1 That’s a major reason I don’t like a compressed primary season, it doesn’t provide enough time to let a good candidate show their strengths. But there’s still a possibility because Perry and Cain seem to be tripping over each other’s attempts to fall behind. Between Perry telling immigration conservatives that they’re heartless, and Cain falling for the press’s gotcha questions regarding Perry, neither of them are showing leadership.

However, Romney is a non-starter. He doesn’t even meet the basic qualifications of supporting effective self-defense or refusing to spend the country into oblivion. Spending money we don’t have remains the default solution for him, whether it’s for stopping climate from changing regardless of the cause or drastically increasing health care costs by getting the government involved, he will need to be convinced every single time that an overarching government program is not the answer.

We need better debates. We need something where two or three, maybe four, candidates can get together and challenge each other and have a real discussion, instead of being forced into 30-second answers to five-minute questions. Romney probably won’t agree to a better format, but I’d recommend that Perry and Cain do it themselves, and leave him out if he doesn’t agree. I would watch that debate.

I’d definitely support Herman Cain over Romney, but I’m hesitant to support him over Perry because of his inexperience with reigning in the establishment and dealing with the press. He trusts the establishment far too much. He supported TARP in 2008; well, I did, too, reluctantly, because the stated purpose was limited and sounded necessary. I fucked up—I trusted them. The difference is, I learned; Cain doesn’t seem to have. He still supports TARP, despite how it’s been abused.

His 9-9-9 proposal isn’t just a sales tax or just an income tax. It’s a combination sales tax, income tax, and hidden tax, each at 9%. It’s a 9% tax on employees, a 9% tax on consumers2, and another 9% to be divvied up between employees and consumers by corporations, depending on market conditions. It might be a good idea, but only if politicians can be trusted; they can’t. Those numbers will rise—most likely the hidden tax that corporations have to pass on to employees and consumers.

And his response about Perry’s painted rock means he trusts the news media not to just make shit up as they did here. (At least Perry fixed his rented rock thirty years before New York fixed their offensive names.)

Cain needs to learn not to trust the establishment. The media lies, and he needs to understand that when they ask him a question that’s likely to drive a wedge between conservatives, the question itself is likely a lie. Politicians lie, and they’ll promise anything to get a vote. A very bad scenario: Cain almost wins, and then endorses Mitt Romney.

For his part, Perry needs to become the candidate we were promised, too: the governor who knows when to get out of our way to let us succeed, rather than issuing executive orders to nudge us in the direction he wants us to go; the governor who is a masterful campaigner and knows when to attack and when to campaign on policy. He’s looking like, for all that he’s a better candidate, Bob Dole in 1996. He doesn’t have any policy driving him to office, and he doesn’t even particularly want the job. One or the other is survivable; the combination is deadly.

I had high hopes for him, but if Perry turns out to have accomplished nothing but keep Palin out of the race, 2012 is going to be a tough year. I know people keep saying Romney is the most electable, but I think Romney as the Republican candidate will blunt enthusiasm far downstream, and my gut tells me he’s the least formidable opponent for President Obama in the bunch.

  1. Rick Santorum is getting some buzz—apparently he’s working hard in Iowa and New Hampshire—but he’s still got an uphill climb. Perry would have to flame out completely.

  2. The consumer tax will be a sales tax on new items only. That’s a critical part of the plan, as it does not tax used items. This means that it will tax the rich more than the poor, and it will not criminalize yard sales.

    Of course, that’s also trusting politicians to not demagogue used “luxury” items and add used items to the plan later.

  1. <- Perry’s government
  2. 2011 in photos ->