Explaining Cain

I suspect that Herman Cain is going to fairly rapidly fade from the political consciousness.  Thus, I realized I probably better link to this Dave Weigel piece on his decline and fall while anybody still cares.  I don’t have a lot to add, just really liked Weigel’s concluding paragraphs:

For reasons of pure political science terms, it’s a shame that Cain campaign ended this way. The candidate got incredibly far, leading polls in key primary states, despite making no serious effort to understand foreign or economic policy [emphasis mine] apart from some simple plans and nostroms. 9-9-9! Peace through strength, and clarity! Pushing the city on the hill back up the hill!

Some of his collapse was due to his ignorance becoming an issue, but we don’t know how much, because that happened in tandem with the epic mishandling of the harassment and affair scandals. Some wide swathe of the Republican base fell in love with the idea of a candidate who had led some large restaurant conglomerates, worked for a while at an industry lobbying shop, hosted a radio show, and gave speeches. Some of Cain’s base embraced him as a black candidate who derided the civil rights industry — a guy who called himself a “real black man.” For a while, the phenomenon served the GOP and the conservative movement, too. What eventually convinced them that he had to go? Boy, where to start? There’s maybe only one Republican who isn’t taking a hard look at that, or taking the questions seriously. He just suspended his presidential campaign.

Well, the one thing I will add is that I do think it tells you a lot about the current state of the GOP that a candidate can rocket to the lead in the polls despite the fact that it is, in fact, glaringly obvious, that he had no genuine interest of understanding of public policy.

Gender video juxtaposition of the day

I hardly remembered this “Man’s Last Stand” Dodge Charger commercial:

but I have to say this response video totally makes it worth it.  Good stuff:

Photo of the day

Now this is a set you really ought to check out in full.  Recent pictures taken of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant and environs.

Yowza!!  Not the image you want of a nuclear power plant.

Curing HIV

Listened to an absolutely fabulous Radiolab episode last week– “Patient Zero.”   Learned the fascinating true story of Typhoid Mary, but even more interestingly, how scientists have uncovered the actual origins of the HIV virus. I had no idea that scientists now believe that the virus first passed into humans way back in 1908.  The “patient zero” I learned all about in the excellent film, “And the Band Played On” spread the virus far and wide, but was far from the original patient.  Quite timely on a personal level, as David has just taken an interest in deadly viruses (largely to use them in a computer game) and has been asking a lot about HIV.  The same day I listened to the podcast, there was also a nice piece in Science Times about the quest to actually cure, rather than just manage, the HIV virus.  Short version: scientists are making progress, but it’s really hard.   I was particularly interested to learn about genetic variations in small portions of the public that may hold the key to finding a cure for everybody.   Both the podcast and the article are definitely worth your time.

Cynical and clueless = lying or stupid

As regular readers will know, I’ve often written that the positions espoused by contemporary Republican elites reflect either lying or stupidity.  There is in other plausible explanation in many cases.   How nice to see that Paul Krugman has come to the same conclusion.  Though, writing on the hallowed pages of the NYT, he goes with the much more genteel, “cynical of clueless” formulation:

Think about what it takes to be a viable Republican candidate today. You have to denounce Big Government and high taxes without alienating the older voters who were the key to G.O.P. victories last year — and who, even as they declare their hatred of government, will balk at any hint of cuts to Social Security and Medicare (death panels!).

And you also have to denounce President Obama, who enacted a Republican-designed health reform and killed Osama bin Laden, as a radical socialist who is undermining American security.

So what kind of politician can meet these basic G.O.P. requirements? There are only two ways to make the cut: to be totally cynical or totally clueless.

Krugman then makes the argument that the sorry state of the Republican field is no accident, but rather a necessary consequence of this dynamic (surely much to the chagrin of Jon Hunstman):

The larger point, however, is that whoever finally gets the Republican nomination will be a deeply flawed candidate. And these flaws won’t be an accident, the result of bad luck regarding who chose to make a run this time around; the fact that the party is committed to demonstrably false beliefs means that only fakers or the befuddled can get through the selection process…

The Washington Post quotes an unnamed Republican adviser who compared what happened to Mr. Cain, when he suddenly found himself leading in the polls, to the proverbial tale of the dog who had better not catch that car he’s chasing…

The same metaphor, it seems to me, might apply to the G.O.P. pursuit of the White House next year. If the dog actually catches the car — the actual job of running the U.S. government — it will have no idea what to do, because the realities of government in the 21st century bear no resemblance to the mythology all ambitious Republican politicians must pretend to believe. And what will happen then?

It does seem to me that with a sane Republican party, Obama would almost surely be a goner next year.  Much to his certain delight, the not exactly sane Republican party will surely give him a fighting chance.

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