With this post, I conclude my short series consisting of my analyses of the Republican candidates for the nomination for President. To recap, I limited my discussions to three candidates: Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry. The structure of this series consisted of a collection of posts concerning what I didn’t like about the candidates and then a series of what I did like about them. This is my endorsement of a single candidate.
None of the candidates have adequately addressed the matter of illegal immigration and of illegal aliens. Some have taken a hard line toward sealing and controlling our borders, and this is entirely appropriate. However, controlled borders are only half the problem. The vast majority of the illegal aliens are present in the United States because they want a chance to participate in the American dream, to avail themselves of the benefits of America’s exceptional culture. They would be highly productive and valuable citizens were they given the chance. Yet we throw up roadblocks after barriers after obstacles to impede them. It can take a couple of months to get a non-immigrant visa; B-1 visas can take a month, H-1B visas as long as six months, and the H-1Bs have very low annual quotas. It shouldn’t be that hard to enter the United States legally. There should be border crossing stations every mile along our border (which, just incidentally, would put the human traffickers—the mules, and worse—immediately out of business). Visa approval should occur in days, not months (in today’s computerized world, it shouldn’t take months to run a background check), and there should be no quotas. With none of the candidates addressing this aspect of illegal immigration, their handling of immigration generally is, in this context, I think a wash.
Perry: Perry’s attack ad campaign is tactically foolish and so calls in to question his judgment. The Republican candidates should be running against Obama and touting their own superior qualities for that task; they should not be attacking each other and giving the Progressives ammunition for the Presidential campaign.
When asked, in Tuesday’s Dartmouth University debate, to be specific about his economic plan, Perry repeatedly said he’d unroll his plan “over the next three days.” When Romney asked him directly, he responded that Romney had been developing his plan over the last five years, whereas Perry had been developing his only over the last 6 weeks. This was pretty weak and smacked of excuse-making, especially since Perry has been governor of the second largest state for the last 11 years (and he’s not yet passed up a chance to remind us all of that), and so he has considerable experience at developing economic plans.
Finally, Perry doesn’t communicate well in a fluid environment. A man who can’t think on his feet isn’t Presidential material. A Texan who can’t is disappointing.
Romney: Romney’s responses concerning Romneycare and Obamacare in the Dartmouth debate increased my confidence both in his willingness and his ability to repeal Obamacare were he to be elected President, and it showed an ability to respond to Democrats’ attempts at assimilation of Romneycare into Obamacare.
He also has a 160 page Economic Plan, with 59 policy proposals in it. However, it isn’t that hard to fix our economy and government’s interference with it by limiting spending to less than revenues. This isn’t rocket science. This is a Technocrat is overcomplexifying things.
His evasive generalities in response to other economic questions, though (Cain: “can you name some points in your 59-point complex economic plan?” Romney: <mumble>), indicate to me that he still hasn’t very many specifics fully developed. And he doesn’t seem willing to get specific; would he take a stand on specifics in dealing with Congress? Yeah, yeah, I said he’d take a stand here, but his Dartmouth performance makes me wonder about his constancy. His campaign has been one of avoiding mistakes rather than of advancing concrete ideas.
Finally, at a campaign stop the day before the Dartmouth debate, The Daily Caller asked Romney whether current AG Eric Holder should resign over his performance with DoJ’s Fast and Furious. Romney’s answer was lengthy and evasive—it took him 35 seconds to say he wasn’t going to say. When the question was repeated later to Romney’s aide, Eric Ferhnstrom, the aide said Romney “prefers [press] availabilities like this, where his thinking is more organized, as opposed…answering questions on the fly. He doesn’t think that’s conducive to a good conversation.” See my remarks above about thinking on one’s feet.
Romney is no Eric Cantor, or Paul Ryan. Or Newt Gingrich.
Cain: Cain’s up from the ranks experience in small businesses and large are a serious plus: in a free market, the entrepreneurs, small businesses, and large businesses are in a positive feedback loop, and that’s a strong economy with a plethora of opportunity. Cain understands the limits to government effectiveness in that environment, and he understands the necessary fixes, simple fixes.
I like his view of making every section of government justify its budget in detail. That’s not zero-based budgeting, but it’s close enough, and it’ll work well if not done too often. He’ll never pull it off, but the threat of it will have its own benefit.
In the Dartmouth debate, he faced serious criticism for the first time: now he’s one of the front-runners, and so a target. His ability to keep his humor, while providing specifics (he was subject to an “insider” cheap shot when he refused to violate a confidence concerning a couple of possible nominees for his administration) rather than evasion or generalities was refreshing. And he was able to defend those specifics. On the other hand, he wasn’t often seriously challenged: “turn 9-9-9 upside down; the Devil is in the details?” How cute.
His consumption tax is a serious problem, but that can be worked. Overall, his tax proposal represents a lower set of rates for individuals and businesses, and that’s all to the good: the more of our money left in our hands, under our judgment, the better off our country will be.
In the end, my preference is Herman Cain. He has the best ideas, and he does, if not the best job, at least a very solid job of presenting and selling them. And, crassly, it’ll be difficult for the Progressives to keep playing their race card on anyone who disagrees with Obama. Although we might hear mutterings of Uncle Tom, or Oreo.