A Philosopher's Blog

Taking a Dive

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on November 11, 2011
Caricatures: GOP Presidential Debate Participa...

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In theory, any of the Republican candidates is supposed to have a chance of winning the nomination. That is, there is not supposed to be a pre-determined outcome. However, recent events might lead a person to have some doubts about this.

In Herman Cain’s case, he starting climbing in the polls and got ahead of Romney. Then the story about past cases of sexual harassment got fed to the media machinery. Cain seemed to be caught by surprise and appeared to struggle with damage control. Oddly enough, some of the incidents in question were discussed by Cain’s strategist in an earlier run for office and the matter of damage control was evidently discusssed then. As such, it seems a bit strange that Cain and his people were so easily caught by surprise when this is something that they had been well aware of.

Naturally, it is possible that Cain and his people suffered from a selective amnesia. It could be that only Cain forgot and his people simply never bothered to check for anything in his past that might cause trouble. Perhaps it was assumed that the incidents would not be exposed or that they would have no real impact (or that Cain would handle them). However, someone who enjoys a good conspiracy theory might suggest that Cain had planned to take a dive all along so as to create the illusion of an actual contest. That, of course, seems as silly as blaming the media or the Democratic machine for his troubles. But it does make an interesting theory to talk about while making aluminum foil hats.

Rick Perry started off fairly strong and then ran into the rocks with his debate performance and the incident involving his family camp. He also recently had a disastrous debate performance in which he apparently could not even remember the third government agency he planned to eliminate if elected. While anyone can have a memory failure at an embarrassing moment, there are two points of concern with this incident. The first is that this was not some minor or obscure point that he forgot. After all illuminating a major agency is a rather big thing-and he only had to remember the three he picked. Second, and perhaps worse, is the poor way he handled the situation. If he had immediately made a humorous response (“I’d like to use Ron Paul as my lifeline”) he might have been able to avoid the damage or even actually scored a few points. However, he floundered about painfully, throwing in a rather weak “whoops.” This certainly does not appear very presidential.

Seeing the horror of the performance, I almost wanted to believe that Perry was intentionally taking a dive. The main alternative explanation was that Perry is, in fact, amazingly incompetent. Crudely put, I seemed to face a choice between regarding Perry as a fool or a knave. A tough call indeed.

But, surely there is no conspiracy here. Just coincidences.

While Newt has been low in the polls, he shows some signs of moving up. He might be a possible VP candidate, given the time he has put in for the party and his past political laurels.

Romney seems to still be the most likely winner, mainly because everyone else seems likely to lose.

On an unrelated note, thanks to all the veterans and the active duty personnel.

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23 Responses

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  1. magus71 said, on November 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    “As such, it seems a bit strange that Cain and his people were so easily caught by surprise when this is something that they had been well aware of.”

    Mike, what would you have done differently? Aside from a few comments that Howie Carr pointed out, I’m not sure how it could have been handled better.

    Bill Clinton gets credit for handling his spin better, but I think his major advantage was that he was already president at the time of the big breaking story: Paula Jones filed a law suit for sexual harassment against him, the evidence of his indiscretions with Lewinski was part of the court proceedings, Clinton lied about having sex with Lewinski, the stained dress was produced as evidence Clinton lied.

    It’s likely we’ll never know if Cain did what is alleged. I have some issues with the connections the women have and the people who were digging the dirt: David Axelrod, who is in charge of Obama’s reelection campaign and a Chicago political assassin. Someone will need to produce more evidence than a woman merely saying something happened two decades ago, a woman who decided the best time to come forward was in the middle of a presidential race in which the primary contender against Obama (at the time) cancelled the Democratic race agenda advantage by himself being black. I’m not saying I can’t be convinced, but it needs to be based on more than the words of a woman of questionable background.

    By the way, I absolutely do consider her two filings for bankruptcy to be a character issue. Honestly, if I were Herman Cain, I’d have my staff go find her ex-boyfriends or husbands and start interviewing. I’d like to know if she mentioned this before, ever.

    “A ‘gold digger’ embroiled in legal and financial difficulties who has always lived above her station and will do anything to never have to work again.”

    ‘This is a lady who lives off the system. She is hellbent on finding a way of never having to work and living the lifestyle she wants to live, a very affluent lifestyle.’

    “Her father, Chester Bialek, said he did not know about his daughter’s allegation until Monday and said that though he was surprised, he is supporting her decision to come forward.”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2058983/Murky-past-Herman-Cain-accuser-Sharon-Bialek-starts-emerge.html#ixzz1dP1uiEPt
    “Details of a number of legal and financial difficulties belonging to Ms Bialek also emerged today, with the Chicago Tribune listing a long history with tax evasion and late or missed credit card payments.”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2058983/Murky-past-Herman-Cain-accuser-Sharon-Bialek-starts-emerge.html#ixzz1dP1Z7bdU

    ‘Most of her jobs ended in termination. It’s always the employer’s fault, not hers.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2058983/Murky-past-Herman-Cain-accuser-Sharon-Bialek-starts-emerge.html#ixzz1dP17i7nL

    I don’t have any more evidence than anyone else, but I have my instincts which I have learned to trust. It took me 35 years, but I do trust them. This woman is poison. I sense evil. I’m not sure that Cain is the right guy to be president, but like I said, this thing stinks to high heaven.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2058983/Murky-past-Herman-Cain-accuser-Sharon-Bialek-starts-emerge.html#ixzz1dOzftb1i

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2058983/Murky-past-Herman-Cain-accuser-Sharon-Bialek-starts-emerge.html#ixzz1dOyup6cB

    If he did something wrong, I want him gone too. But the “evidence” produced against Cain could be produced against any of us. Just piss a lady off, and POOF, evidence of her word.

    Were this Carl Rove and not Axelrod, I think you would have been all over this like a cheap suit on a used car salesman.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      While it is tempting to say “well, I would have not harassed those women”, but that would be the easy way out.

      From a tactical standpoint, if I was in Cain’s situation and had his alignment, I would have been prepared from the start. That way when the story came out, I would have said “Yes, there were X incidents while I was at the NRA. These matters were resolved at the time to the satisfaction of all parties. I know that examining the past of candidates is all part of the process, but there is really nothing to see here.”

      As I noted in the post, this is essentially a contest of credibility. Against Cain is the fact that he was involved in settlements for harassment and has been accused by women who do have credibility. In his favor is the fact that such settlements are sometimes reached when the accused did nothing wrong. When assessing the credibility of those involved it is important to focus on relevant factors and to resist the temptation of accepting smear campaigns as evidence. You’ll note that I have not assumed that Cain is guilty. At this point, all that can be said is that he has been accused and that there were settlements paid to women for alleged harassment.

      If the Democrats were inclined to use allegations of sexual misconduct as political tools, why would they hit Cain now? Are they cunning enough to manufacture such a trap, yet too stupid to know the best time to spring it?

      • magus71 said, on November 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm

        I can attest from being a police officer that settlements are made because insurance covers the settlement for one party and it is cheaper to settle than to have a court proceeding.

        “If the Democrats were inclined to use allegations of sexual misconduct as political tools, why would they hit Cain now? Are they cunning enough to manufacture such a trap, yet too stupid to know the best time to spring it?”

        When would have been a better time? Who even knew who Herman Cain is until a month ago? It was perfect timing actually: Just as his numbers rose above Romney’s. It was brilliant timing. You can only use this kind of tactic once in a major campaign, so you have to wait and see who the major contender is. Romney’s been through this process before and they’ve dragged the Mormon thing around for years like a kid who won’t let his dead puppy go.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm

          If I were a cunning Democrat kingmaker I would have waited until Cain was the candidate. If he did not get it, why waste such an attack on someone who is not even a threat to the Democrat machine? If he did get it, then the ideal time to strike would be a bit before the general election so that the incident would be fresh in the voters’s minds and he would have to use up time and resources on damage control rather than positive campaigning.

          I do agree that harassment charges can be made when they lack merit and companies/universities will settle to avoid the cost of mounting a successful defense. However, it is still an open question as to whether the cases against Cain had merit or not.

          The Mormon thing seems to be mainly something used by other other Republicans against Romney. These days it is a stupid tactic-most voters don’t care and it makes the attacker look like a religious bigot. Romney has been in politics for so long that I doubt anything new will pop up during his run-he has been checked out time and time again. Romney mainly has to worry about his successful stint as governor of Massachusetts and the fact that he is essentially a moderate Republican.

    • T. J. Babson said, on November 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      I think the timing is all wrong for this to be an Axelrod takedown. This seems more like internecine warfare.

      • magus71 said, on November 12, 2011 at 3:04 am

        Maybe. But there’s a lot of coincidences here. She lived in the exact same building? Really?

        My concerns are more with the character of the accusers, which I find to be very dubious. And I would like more evidence that these things actually happened, just like people wanted more evidence that Obama was not a citizen. Merely saying something doesn’t make it true. And those saying things need to have credibility.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm

          It could be a coincidence or perhaps not. However, living in the same building as someone does not seem an adequate basis for claiming a conspiracy.

          It is reasonable to consider the credibility of the accusers-as I have noted, this is largely a credibility contest: who is more likely to be telling the truth, Cain or his multiple accusers?

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

        Agreed. The Democrats have little or nothing to gain by bashing Cain now.

  2. WTP said, on November 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I agree…not that I read any of that…but..but..but…

    • magus71 said, on November 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      The most protected President in history. He refuses to go on Fox again.

  3. magus71 said, on November 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    As a recent articled stated: Mitt Romney is the only adult in the room. I admit at this point that the Republicans have sufficiently widdled themselves down to one candidate.

    But at this point, I think I’d give any of them a chance over Obama, who’s been a disaster.

    “By any measure, Barack Obama is not only a failure in his economic policies, but he is, in the aggregate, the worst steward of the American economy since economic measurements began to be recorded”

    No more, thanks.

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/11/the_worst_president_since_before_the_civil_war.html#ixzz1dQa507Wk

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

      Merely looking at the numbers is not enough-the causes also have to be analyzed. Perhaps Obama is doing a horrible job. Perhaps he is doing the best job that can be done in this situation. Perhaps he is only doing okay. It is actually hard to tell without an historical analysis of the situation. What seems awful in the short term sometimes turns out to be a good idea from the vantage point of history. Of course, sometimes history confirms that it was, in fact, awful.

      • magus71 said, on November 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm

        Geez, in that case how can we assess any president? We can surely say he hasn’t made things better than before he took office. Is his only defense that no one and no course of action would improve the economy beyond its current state?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm

          We can assess them in the present based on what we know, keeping in mind that this assessment might be in error when reviewed from the perspective of history. For example, it might turn out that the invasion of Iraq will result in a flourishing democracy that solves many problems of the Middle East, thus forcing a re-evaluation of Bush’s presidency.

          One problem with inheriting a major financial disaster and two wars is that it is rather hard to sort out how much of the current situation is Obama’s fault. His claim has been that things would have been far worse without his actions. As might be imagined, people generally don’t “feel” positive about such claims unless it is very obvious to them that they would have been worse off (or good spin makes them think so). To use an analogy, if your doctor puts you on medication for high blood pressure and it just stays about the same and she says “well, you’d be worse off without it” then you might think that it is doing no good-even though it is actually keeping you from a stroke. In contrast, if the medicine lowered your blood pressure, then you’d be inclined to accept that it is working-even though it is working in both cases.

          • magus71 said, on November 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm

            I understand Obama’s argument. The problem is, it’s the exact same argument he’d make if he made things worse, didn’t help at all, or saved America from collapse.

            I’m going with Occam’s Razor. Debt, unemployment and GDP worsened after Obama took office. Other countries that took vastly different actions when the global crisis hit, had much better outcomes–such as Germany. The countries that continued along the path of Keynes and more central planning have suffered greatly,

            Any other view requires assumptions of unknowns.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm

              I’d go with Obama inheriting the problems. But, it is clear that the state has not been ideal in handling this situation.

  4. ajmacdonaldjr said, on November 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Not a tough call, sad to say. Our politicians are knaves, not fools.

  5. magus71 said, on November 15, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Fool, or a knave?

  6. magus71 said, on November 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Fool, or knave?

  7. magus71 said, on November 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

    A bigger liar than Herman Cain? What does our president really believe or know?

  8. magus71 said, on November 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm


    Do you still stand by this quote from August, 2010?

    “nor do I see him [Obama] spending any more wildly than Reagan or Bush.”

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