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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Domestic policy

Herman Cain: 'I'm the president of the United States of America!'

   Herman-Cain-Florida-Straw-Poll

Herman Cain is currently on a roll, following his strong debate performance in Orlando on Sept. 22 with a decisive win last Saturday in the Florida GOP straw poll.

Once considered a second-tier candidate and kind of an afterthought, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO is leapfrogging over half the field to find himself within spitting distance of top-tier status.

So, what's an up-and-coming candidate to do? Release a book, of course. And if you're running for president, you might as well imagine yourself as already being there.

As quoted in an extensive piece at Politico.com, Cain writes in "This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House":

“Well, I’m just about at the elevator up to the family quarters. But bear with me for just a minute more as I confirm who I am. It’s obvious; I’m the president of the United States of America!"

The memoir, due out next week from Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, takes Cain from his childhood in Georgia through his career and his battle with Stage Four cancer to his hoped-for triumphant arrival in Washington, D.C., and imagined first term in office.

It's not rare for a candidate to have a book. In fact, Michele Bachmann has her own book coming out in November. But most -- like Perry's and Romney's -- deal with policy positions and political philosophy. Cain takes it a step further by, according to Politico, even discussing the first lady plans of his wife of 43 years, Gloria.

Cain also takes on the assertion that he is not knowledgeable about foreign policy, a charge that could also be leveled at his fellow candidates, former governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney (and, for that matter, at former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter -- governors all, plus Obama).

This particular issue stuck in the craw of Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly, who challenged recently announced Cain supporter Dennis Miller on Wednesday's "The O'Reilly Factor."

"I like Herman Cain," said O'Reilly. "I like his spirit. I think he presents himself very well. But when he came on 'The Factor' a few weeks ago, he had no clue about foreign affairs. None.'"

Miller responded with a reference to President Obama, saying: "Oh, like the guy in there now does?"

O'Reilly countered with: "Aren't we supposed to improve upon that?"

Take a look at the whole exchange:

Cain also caused some controversy elsewhere on Wednesday, while talking to anchor Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room" (click here for the full transcript).

First, Cain addressed the issue of why most African Americans won't vote Republican, saying: "Because many African Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view. I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative."

Cain also said he believes a third to 50% of black Americans are "open-minded," saying: "More and more black Americans are thinking for themselves. And that's a good thing."

It's a position Cain also discussed during a Monday appearance on Fox News Channel's "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren," saying:

"And because the unemployment rate for black people is nearly 17%, instead of the 9%, they're looking for something that's going to boost this economy. And they see that possibility in my 9-9-9 plan.

"That's what's going to peel off the black vote: results, not rhetoric."

(Click here for the full transcript and video.)

Also addressed during the CNN interview was the issue of Perry's support, along with the Texas legislature, for giving in-state tuition discounts to children of illegal immigrants.

This policy got the Texas governor in some hot water in the last GOP debate -- in which he characterized those who disagreed with him as "heartless" -- and earned him a rebuke from his fellow Republican, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, during his speech at the Reagan Library on Tuesday.

In opposing Perry's use of taxpayer funds to subsidize the lower tuition rates, Christie said: "Let me be very clear. From my perspective, that is not a heartless position. That is a common sense position."

Perry even had to do a bit of backpedaling on his "heartless" claim. He told Newsmax in an exclusive video interview posted on Wednesday, that, "I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word, and it was inappropriate."

Asked on CNN if he agreed with Perry's position, Cain said: "No, absolutely not. Because I happen to believe that that puts children of illegals in front of citizens, in front of soldiers. I don't agree with that. We must first secure the border for real. That's the real problem we need to make sure that we solve. Then, decide later.

"Now, I do agree that it's a state's issue. It's a state's decision. But I don't believe in putting children of illegals, because of compassion, in front of citizens."

Cain also said that, as of right now, that position would prevent him from supporting Perry if he becomes the GOP's eventual nominee:

"Today, I could not support Rick Perry as the nominee for a host of reasons. Him being soft on securing the border is one of the reasons. I feel very strongly about the need to secure the border for real, the need to enforce the laws that are already there, the need to promote the path to citizenship that's already there.

"But, more importantly, empower the states to enforce the national federal immigration laws because the federal government didn't do it, can't do it, and they never will do it. So, that's where I think he and I have a basic fundamental difference of opinion."

Cain did say though, that while he does not support the individual mandate put in place by Mitt Romney in his Massachusetts healthcare bill, he could support Romney as the nominee so long as he vowed to repeal Obamacare.

A new Fox News phone poll is out, placing Cain in third place now with 17%, trailing Romney, who has 23%, and Perry, who has 19%.

(Click here for the full poll results.)

Cain is even making the apparently obligatory visit to New York City to talk with businessman and reality show star Donald Trump on Oct. 3, following the lead of fellow hopefuls Perry, Romney and Bachmann.

RELATED:

Herman Cain handily wins Florida GOP straw poll

Chris Christie won't run but doesn't mind being asked

GOP debate: Rick Perry vs. Mitt Romney, plus Gary Johnson and some dogs

-- Kate O'Hare

Photo: Herman Cain addresses Florida GOP activists in Orlando last Saturday. Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images


Top Obama strategist sees a 'titanic struggle' next year

RMS Titanic Sets Sail on its first and last voyage April 10 1912

A top former White House aide to Barack Obama sees a "titanic struggle" emerging as the Democratic incumbent confronts awful economic numbers and Republican political opposition that seems bent on defeating the guy for some reason.

David Axelrod, who used to work in the White House but has since fled back to Chicago as the reelection campaign's top political strategist, uttered his unfortunate floating metaphor to a New Hampshire audience Tuesday.Not David Axelrod Titanic Capt Edward J Smith

Speaking at a college in Manchester, Axelrod also used a sailing metaphor:

"In 2008, we had the wind at our backs. Now, we don't have the wind at our back. We have the wind in our faces, because the American people have the wind in their faces."

With two out of three Americans thinking the country is on the wrong track under Obama and more than half disapproving of Obama's overall job performance, exactly what winds Axelrod had in mind are left to wild speculation.

Unemployment above 9% when an 8% maximum was promised? A healthcare bill that was supposed to reduce costs but hasn't and waivers for special Americans with connections? An unfolding scandal over a half-billion dollar loan to a fundraiser's company? A fondness for regulation and a desire to raise taxes and a kind of chronic indecision over many things except giving more speeches at fundraisers appealing for more time because so much is undone?

Axelrod, a recovering newspaper reporter who used to cover Chicago politics, did not have time in his remarks to explain that those winds in Americans' faces came from his boss' failed economic stimulus and growing business fears of rampant regulations.

Because he lives and works in Chicago and helped elect Democrats of the maTitanic Movie Sinking shipchine that has ruled that city for 80 years, Axelrod is apparently unfamiliar with the role of a competitive opposition political party to, well, oppose incumbents with its own plans.

The Obama strategist kept a straight face as he feigned surprise that Obama opponents in Washington would actually, well, oppose the Real Good Talker's plans to spend trillions more dollars that the country doesn't have.

"We honestly thought," Axelrod said with a straight face, "when we got to Washington, we'd get some cooperation from folks across the aisle."

That kind of phony naivete sounds normal in the Windy City where uncooperative citizens can find themselves and their licensed businesses enduring a plethora of building and health inspections and citations, along with unexplained stoppages in garbage collections, etc.

In the interests of bipartisanship and passing the president's doomed jobs bill, Axelrod called the D.C. opposition "the most ideological, partisan group of Republicans in my lifetime." Axelrod was born Feb. 22, 1955.

Still, despite all those adverse winds in the Windy City and across the country, Axelrod said he was confident that President Obama would sail through these troubled waters and not become yet another Democratic president like Truman, Johnson or Carter, who were terminated by popular demand after one elected term.

“We’re on the right side of the fight and I believe we’re going to win that fight,” he said.

RELATED:

New gaffe: Obama confuses Jews with janitors

How many Obama gaffes can the media ignore?

Obama touts jobs plan at Ohio bridge that won't qualify

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photos (from top): The Titanic. Credit: White Star Line

Edward Smith, captain of the doomed Titanic. Credit: White Star Line

An image from director James Cameron's movie "Titanic." Credit: Merie W. Wallace

Robert Gates warns: 'We are now in uncharted waters' with our dysfunctional politics

Robert Gates speaks at the National constitution Center 9-22-11

Yes, we are a few days late getting through an accumulated pile of reading. But better late than never in this case.

These are the worthy remarks of Robert Gates, the newly-former secretary of Defense and former numerous other things in government and the intelligence community.

They are not very long, as Washington remarks go. But then Gates didn't give them in Washington. He spoke in Philadelphia on Sept. 22 at the National Constitution Center upon receiving its Liberty Medal.

You should read them because of the man's intelligence, thoughtfulness and long experience in our troubled national capitol. Freed from the team loyalty obligations of serving one administration or another, he speaks more candidly than we've seen him on the Sunday talk shows.

Gates, an Eagle Scout from Kansas who just turned 68, has some pointed observations to make about why Washington has become so dysfunctional. (You can skip over the divisive media part; he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

Liberty Medal Acceptance Speech by Robert Gates, as provided by the National Constitution Center

First of all, I am deeply honored. Thank you, Captain Odierno and Sergeant Graham.

Captain, I’ve had some interaction with your father over time; you follow in a great tradition. And I thank you for both of your service to your country and for the outstanding work of the organizations you represent.

First of all, I would say that this evening is a reminder that astrology exists to give....

Continue reading »

Rick Perry's underwhelming debates: Do they matter?

Governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney Argue in the Republican debate 9-12-11

The news wasn't so good for the Republican presidential candidate who occupies the governor's office down there in Texas.

With their space-age podiums, cheering (or booing) audiences and their gotcha questions from media folks with their own makeup assistants, debates realistically have nothing to do with anything any president of any party would ever face in the Oval Office.

Debates do, however, have everything to do with how American voters perceive a candidate for president. How informed, well-spoken, straightforward, candid, quick, attentive do they look?

The Texas governor had suffered through two debate performances that could charitably be described as mediocre. He hardly looked presidential on the stage or up to the executive expectations that had pushed him to the front of the pack in polls.

Now came new polling showing his prime competitor surging to the lead in the important first primary state of New Hampshire.George W Bush and Al Gore Debate 10-18-00

Was this the end of his short presidential campaign? Or the end of the beginning in a very long presidential campaign for the White House?

No, this isn't the story of Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which turns 45 days old today.

This is a cautionary tale about reading too much into the early debate showings of any party's candidates, no matter how good or bad. Our esteemed and shall we say very veteran colleague Mark Barabak, calls our attention to a news story written almost 12 years ago, by him, as a matter of fact:

After his less-than-commanding performance in two presidential debates, George W. Bush faces a tougher race than expected amid growing signs of Republican discontent--including a new poll that shows major slippage in the key primary state of New Hampshire.

As it turned out, of course, John McCain did stay ahead of Bush in New Hampshire that cycle and whomped him good on primary day by about 15 points. The next morning, with aides vowing to get serious, the Bush campaign moved on to South Carolina, where the Texan won.

And the rest, as they say, is history that Barack Obama reminds us all about every few hours.

These campaigns are long and grueling, as they should be to determine the minds and mettle of the wannabes. John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy on Jan. 3 of that 1960 election year. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama announced in February, 21 months before the election.

Just as the substantial early TV audiences watch and study the 2011 debates, so do the candidates and their advisors. Besides the content, they're advised on how not to look bored, how and when to move a hand, when to point, how one particular expression dangerously resembles a sneer. (Remember Al Gore's infamous sighs from 2000?)

Watch Romney. This is his second rodeo. He's always paying attention to the others, often graciously grants part of their point and then moves to drive his home. Another respected colleague, Robin Abcarian, examined Perry's studied motions apparently mimicking Reaganesque movements.

Who's got a big enough DVR memory? But if anyone compared these early Republican debates to ones coming next winter, they'd see radically improved performances by the surviving candidates.

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A chat with Megyn Kelly on her prep to be debate moderator

 --Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Mike Carlson / Associated Press (Romney and Perry joust in Sept. 12 debate); Tannen Maury / AFP (Bush and Gore debate, Oct. 18, 2000).

Obama was warned of loan dangers long before Solyndra sank

Obama feigns interest in solar panels during a visit to the now bankrupt Solyndra facility 5-26-10 now undergoing hearings on Capitol Hill

Top economic advisors to President Obama warned him a year ago about the serious political and financial risks of the Energy Department's loan guarantee program that has resulted in taxpayers likely being responsible for the loss of $527 million loaned to the politically-connected California solar firm Solyndra.

That loan is currently under investigation by a House subcommittee and the FBI, which raided company offices earlier this month.

Obama visited the Solyndra plant in 2010, touting it as a shining example of his program to simultaneously boost the U.S. green-energy industry and create new jobs. Last winter the Energy Dept. restructured the more than half-billion dollar loan to the troubled firm.Lawrence Summers 9-11

But on Aug. 31 the company, whose major owner was also a major fundraising bundler for the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign, filed for bankruptcy and eliminated most of its 1,100 jobs.

In a detailed story posted overnight, The Times' Tom Hamburg, Kim Geiger and Matea Gold outline the danger signals set off in October 2010 when secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner and chief economic advisor Lawrence Summers warned the president that Energy's vetting process was not stringent enough to weed out troubled applicants in advance.

Energy Secy. Steven Chu, who like Obama holds a Nobel Prize, was eager to push through applications by 30 companies for the program's $17 billion. He wanted even less oversight from Treasury.

The story has developed legs for two reasons:

One, it hints at possible high-level political favoritism using taxpayer dollars in risky ventures with well-connected business people, what some have labeled "crony capitalism."

And, two, it's a classic example of the fundamental ongoing D.C. debate over government's proper role in the economy and the financial dangers to taxpayer funds inherent when officials and bureaucrats, not free market forces, pick corporate winners and losers.

Pencil this into your calendar for future political debate throughout 2012.

RELATED:

New gaffe: Obama confuses Jews with janitors

How many Obama gaffes can the media ignore?

Obama touts jobs plan at Ohio bridge that won't qualify

 --Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here.

Photos: Alex Brandon / Associated Press (Obama in 2010 during a visit to the now-shuttered Solyndra facility undergoing hearings on Capitol Hill); T.J. Kirkpatrick / Bloomberg (Summers).

Late-night jokes: Starbucks CEO reveals how he got rich

Obama at the UN with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit As The Ticket's 73,000-plus Twitter followers and 7,200 Facebook friends/fans know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each evening.

Feel free to pass this weekly collection on to friends using the "Share" buttons above.

Fallon: President Obama arrived 25 minutes late for a luncheon at the United Nations. In fact, he was so late, he had to sit next to Joe Biden at the kids' table.

Letterman: The U.N. General Assembly is reconvening. Fun to drive by and see those world leaders sitting on the front porch hooting at all the passing chicks.

Conan: Arnold Schwarzenegger is writing a memoir. It'll be available in hardcover, paperback and a book-on-tape that’s impossible to understand.

Fallon: At a New York City fundraiser President Obama says he's in ‘in a New York ...

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Sunday shows: Netanyahu, Cameron, Ryan, Plouffe

British prime minister David Cameron inspects a Canadian Honor Guard 9-22-11

ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour: British Prime Minister David Cameron, Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Obama advisor David Plouffe, with George Will, Mary Matalin, Amy Walter and Donna Brazile

Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt:" House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairs of the Republican and Democratic National Committees, respectively, with Mark Zandi, John Dickerson and Norah O'Donnell

CNN Fareed Zakaria "GPS": Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley: Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.), Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Plouffe

Fox News Channel "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Plouffe, with Brit Hume, Bill Kristol, A.B. Stoddard and Juan Williams

NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with William Bennett, Tim Shriver, Donna Shalala and Tavis Smiley

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: British Prime Minister David Cameron inspects a Canadian Honor Guard in Ottawa on Thursday. Credit: Blair Gable / Reuters

Weekly remarks: Susan Collins decries federal regs; Obama wants improved education

Capitol Hill

Weekly remarks by Sen. Susan Collins, as provided by Republican Party leadership

I'm Senator Susan Collins from the Great State of Maine.

Last month, our nation produced no net new jobs. More than 14 million Americans could not find work.

I’ve asked employers what would it take to help them add more jobs. No matter the size of their business or the size of their workforce, they tell me that Washington must stop imposing crushing new regulations. 

Some regulations are just plain silly. Last year, the federal government issued a warning to a company that sells packaged walnuts. Washington claimed that the walnuts were being marketed as a drug, so the government ordered the company to stop telling consumers about the health benefits of nuts.

Other regulations have far more serious consequences. The EPA has proposed a new rule on emissions from boilers that it admits would cost the private sector billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

No wonder employers dread what is coming next out of Washington.

Over-regulation is hurting our economy; unfortunately, the problem is only....

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New gaffe: Obama hails America's historic building of 'the Intercontinental Railroad'

Barack Obama's political rally by the Brent Spence Bridge in Ohio 9-22-11

 

"We’re the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad," Barack Obama.

That's what the president of the United States flat-out said Thursday during what was supposed to be a photo op to sell his jobs plan next to an allegedly deteriorating highway bridge.

A railroad between continents? A railroad from, say, New York City all the way across the Atlantic to France? Now, THAT would be a bridge!

It's yet another humorous gaffe by the Harvard graduate, overlooked by most media for whatever reason. Like Obama saying Abraham-Come-Lately Lincoln was the founder of the Republican Party. Or Navy corpseman. Or the Austrian language. Fifty-seven states. The president of Canada. Etc.

If you talk as much as this guy likes to talk instead of governing, if you believe you are a Real Good Talker as much as this guy does, you're gonna blow a few lines. But this many?

No doubt, we'll see a collection of Obama's Best Bombs on 'Saturday Night Live' this weekend, one right after the other. No doubt. Can you imagine the media coverage of such repeated historical ignorance if it had been the last Ivy League alum president who said it?

The Democrat had traveled to Ohio on Thursday to tout his American Jobs Act, the....

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Rick Perry's new video zeroes in on 'President Zero'

Our perspicacious colleague Robin Abcarian notes over here that much of what Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been doing during his first two Republican primary debates has resembled the successful, communicative mannerisms of Ronald Reagan.

There's another debate tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific on Fox News Channel. See if you agree.

Something else Perry has also been doing, like Mitt Romney too until recently, has been focusing his attacks on President Obama, as if the Texas governor was already running a general election campaign. (Scroll down for links to those attacks.)

There's a good reason behind that strategy: Polls of Republicans all along have shown they care more about defeating Obama than about the personalities and policies of individual GOP candidates. And this morning a new Gallup Poll shows more registered voters are considering voting for Romney (62%) than either of his two main rivals, Perry (53%) or Obama (54%).

Then Wednesday, RickPerry.org released a devastating video on 'President Zero.'

"We don't need a president who apologizes for America," says Perry.

Watch the new video below. Let us know what you think.

And see if the images and narrative remind you of anything from our not-too-distant-political past. (Our answer is below this video.)

OK, did this video remind you of anything?

Perhaps of the classic 1984 Ronald Reagan reelection campaign ad, "Morning in America." For old time's sake, we'll throw that one in right here.

 

 

For last year's powerful midterm takeoff ad, "Mourning in America," click here to watch.

RELATED:

Plaintive Obama says: 'I can't do it alone'

Perry on Obama's Israel policy: 'Naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous'

Obama's urgent jobs plan: 'Right now' really means sometime next month maybe 

--Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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