Will Cain is a media entrepreneur, small business owner and host of “Off the Page” on National Review.com. He is also a frequent contributor to Fox News. You can visit his web site here.
Below is my 2012 Big Board Presidential Draft Rankings and Analysis for Team Cain. My General Manager, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and I have talked it over and this is who we’ll select if given the opportunity.
Note – Senator DeMint disqualified himself from the Big Board by saying that openly gay people and unmarried but sexually active women shouldn’t teach in public schools. Not, um, my style. But as a maverick political GM, who bucked the GOP establishment, and found Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson and more – he can GM of any of my teams.
Note 2 – Senator Jim DeMint had nothing to do with this incredibly long column.
137. John Thune, Senator from South Dakota
John Thune is what you get if you had a machine that spit out superficially perfect Republican presidential candidates. You can just imagine Karl Rove hunkered over the motherboard turning the dials to “Optimal Candidate.” Finely tailored Hickey Freeman and/or Brooks Brothers (American made, of course) suit – check. From the Heartland – check. Perfectly parted hair – check. Invokes Reagan at the right time and/or often – check.
Thune looks perfect. He superficially defines “Republican Presidential Candidate” the same way William Zabka defined 80s movie bad guy in Karate Kid, Back to School, European Vacation, etc. The problem is, I don’t know if Thune is anything more than that image.
136. Michelle Bachmann, Representative from Minnesota
The best Tweet on the night of Michelle Bachmann’s Tea Party State of the Union response came from Commentary’s John Podhoretz: “Michelle! Yooo Hooo! Michelle! Over here!”
I have said that I didn’t like Bachmann’s SOTU response. The Tea Party, to me, is an introspective movement that forces Republicans to look at themselves and the way they’ve governed when given the opportunity. I thought Bachmann’s speech focused too much on laying all of our problems at Obama’s feet.
But I may have been too hard on Bachmann. She is principled and she is consistent. I just don’t want her to be president.
78. Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts
DOA. In an election where the focus will be the major ideological fight of our time, Obamacare, how are we supposed to support the guy who created its model? Romney-care, it’s a total deal-killer.
44. Mike Huckabee, Television Host, former Governor of Arkansas
The words “Republican” and “Democrat” are of little value to me in understanding how someone views the relationship between government and the individual. “Conservative” and “liberal” have more meaning. But I think a better grouping would be “Statist” versus “individualist”.
At one time Mike Huckabee expressed support for a cap-and-trade environmental tax program. He has said he would consider banning cigarette sales to reduce health care risks. And he has spoken in favor of displaying the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms. (This is all beside the point that in the 2008 presidential election he blatantly played the religion card to distinguish himself from Mitt Romney, drawing the ire of Charles Krauthammer. And every conservative knows, you do not piss off Dr. K.) I don’t trust Huckabee’s instincts to reliably favor the individual over the state.
31. Sarah Palin, Reality TV Star, Pundit, former Governor of Alaska
I’ve said it, I’ve written it, I am not big on Sarah Palin. I don’t see the substance. But I have to admit, I watched an episode of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, and whatever “it” is, she has “it.” The thing is, I think “it” is incredibly charming and good-looking reality television star, not POTUS.
30. TIM PAWLENTY, Governor of Minnesota
Tim Pawlenty doesn’t inspire many words here. (That’s saying something! This is a 2,000 word column!) And I don’t think he’ll inspire many votes.
22. NEWT GINGRICH, Former House Majority Leader
Why do I get the feeling that if Newt Gingrich won the presidency he would spend the first week rubbing his hands together, looking up in the sky and “mwahaha” laughing? I think he likes power.
17. John Bolton, Former Ambassador to the United Nations
Describes himself as a “Barry Goldwater conservative”. That’s enough to intrigue me. I want to hear more Mr. Ambassador.
14. Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza
I need to hear and learn more. But his last name suggests stardom.
11. Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida
10. Ron Johnson, Senator from Wisconsin
It’s too early for them, but I have high hopes for these guys.
9. Ron Paul, Representative from Texas
There had to be a conversation like this at some point between former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, maybe over a beer while watching a Heat-76ers game.
Crist: Are you a big 76er fan?
Specter: My favorite team.
Crist: How about this Ron Paul guy? He actually believes what he says and says what he believes.
Specter: He’ll never last. He can’t keep winning Republican primaries like that. He’s a goner.
Crist: I hear the Heat may sign LeBron.
Specter: The Heat have always been my favorite team.
8. Paul Ryan, Representative from Wisconsin
7. Rand Paul, Senator from Kentucky
I’m betting the franchise on these guys. We’re either going to take the Peyton Manning path and these guys will usher in years of prosperity, or we’re taking the Ryan Leaf path, meaning Paul Ryan goes ballistic on reporters in the Congressional locker room after a P90X workout and later gets busted for muling drugs across the Canadian border.
6. Jeb Carpenter
What you never heard of this guy? The Wall Street Journal once described him as, “understanding the relationship between taxes and growth, a proven record of choice in education, and ability to draw Hispanic voters. (Also committed) to states rights and the U.S. Constitution…” He’s a two-term Republican governor from a swing state. His last name is also Bush, not Carpenter. If it were Carpenter, he’d be at the top of your, mine, and everyone else’s list.
5. Andy Beal, Chairman of Beal Bank
The banking industry is f****d. Big banks are now quasi-governmental institutions a la Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So I want a leader from the banking industry that didn’t follow the lemmings into debt fueled oblivion and then beg for a bailout from the government.
I wanted that leader to be BB&T’s former CEO John Allison who makes all his senior executives read Atlas Shrugged. But although BB&T made fewer bad loans than the fools and took less bailout than the scoundrels, it still made bad loans and took bailouts.
While John Allison espouses the right philosophy, Andy Beal, of Beal Bank, is the philosophy. From 2004 to 2007 Beal’s bank STOPPED making and buying loans. He shrunk his bank from $7.7B to $2.9B and kept much of it in cash. He virtually shut down. During that time Beal worked from 10am to 2pm, took long lunches, and played backgammon. “Every deal done since 2004 is just stupid,” Beal said at the time. As a result Countrywide salesmen laughed at him, his board questioned him, credit rating agencies chastised him, and regulators (!?) focused on him. He started buying again in 2008.
Today Andy Beal is worth $6B according to Forbes, he never took a government bailout, and describes himself as a “pretty libertarian guy” who isn’t pumping sunshine up our ass about the future. In short, you should tune out everyone else and listen to Beal.
Buuuuuuutttttt, Andy Beal likes to go to Las Vegas and play million dollar hands of poker. In one three-day poker session he reportedly lost $16.6 million to Phil Ivey. He’s being sued by his wife in a divorce case that features some ugly sexual claims. And he’s supposed to be an ass to work for. All of this makes him a terrible politician. Still…
4. Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma
As long as conservatives pine for the glory days of the 1980s, we might as well consider a guy who’s hair hasn’t changed since then. But Tom Coburn’s blow dried center-part isn’t the only thing about Dr. Coburn that has remained constant. So has his ideology.
Coburn led the GOP effort to oppose Obamacare, he’s at the forefront of every fight against earmarks, and he supports term limits. And yet, liberals aren’t the only ones happy to see Coburn go. When the Senate voted 92-3 to fund the war in Iraq, Coburn was one of the three voting against, saying: “”I will tell you personally that I think it was probably a mistake going to Iraq.” He’s made enemies of the likes of Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert. If you separated politicians who are on the Republican team from principled conservatives, I think you’d find Gingrich and Hastert on one side and Coburn on the other.
By the way, he doesn’t just talk about term limits, he self imposes them. He left the House of Representative, as promised, after three terms. And he is leaving the Senate in 2016. It’s no wonder he can afford to be principled; he’s not worried about getting reelected.
3. George Will, Washington Post Columnist
Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Harrison Ford, running through the streets of Cairo, is suddenly confronted with a giant swordsman? The crowd parts and the Middle Eastern Zorro menacingly tosses his sword from hand to hand, spins it over his shoulder, and tosses it behind his back. Then Ford calmly shoots him dead.
This is what it is like to watch George Will dispense with silly liberal arguments every Sunday on This Week. Someone like Katrina vanden Heuvel or Arianna Huffington or Christian Amanpour or Cruella Deville weaves some fancy, odd-accented, substance free argument. Then Will debunks it with one short sentence. Like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHw2qZwkIKI
2. Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana
Calvin Coolidge is my favorite president. Reportedly, Dorothy Parker once sat next to “Silent Cal” at a dinner party and said to him, “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” His famous reply: “You lose.”
His critics say Coolidge not only said little, but that he also did little. That sounds like a man who understood his job description to me. Coolidge once said, “The chief business of the American people is business.”
This is what Mitch Daniels said at CPAC: “When business leaders ask me what they can do for Indiana, I always reply: ‘Make money. Go make money.’” So it’s not just because they are unassuming, semi-balding men who are damn-near dead-ringers for each other, that I say Daniels reminds me of Coolidge.
Both men have shown a habit of creating climates where business grows and government budgets wither. Over the last decade manufacturing output has declined in almost every state in the Rust-Belt. Not in Indiana. Instead, what were declining in Indiana prior to the recession were unemployment and the state budget deficit. When Daniels took over the Governor’s office in Indiana, the state had an $800-million deficit. He turned that into a $1.3-billion surplus. Today Indiana has a hole in its budget like most states. But the surplus the state ran for years under Daniels has made it easier to weather the downturn.
Daniels has ideas about how to reform our national fiscal woes as well. He has bravely talked about reforming Social Security and cutting from the Defense budget. That’s the kind of serious grown-up talk that most politicians don’t have the balls to talk about.
1. Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
Over the past two years we have had an incredibly charismatic, good-looking, charm of a man in the White House. He’s also someone I disagree with on almost every imaginable level. So I’m ready for the anti-Obama. And I think Dale Peterson, former candidate for Alabama Ag Commissioner, found him when he said: “I like ol’ big boy.”
Actually, by now, everyone knows who Chris Christie is. Christie seems to be almost totally apolitical. I don’t mean “apolitical” in the sense of someone who cares little for politics. Rather, I mean Christie seems totally incapable of moderating his views and positions in order to appease “everyone”. He says what he believes. Need evidence?
On ideology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV525Y1mKt0
On teacher’s unions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw0aBkt8CPA
On entitlements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yClIfA6uT4
Christie also does what he says. In his first year in office, he cut an $11B structural deficit without raising taxes. Christie went after direct cuts to education, NJ Transit, and hospitals. Education! Transportation! Hospitals! How could he! Why?! Because that is where the money is. And the fact that it makes you pull your hair out, is why he’s a good leader. Nothing is easy. Our national problems won’t be easy to fix. But if we make sure we get a guy with principles – the right principles – we will have fixed the first hard problem.