In a recent speech, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain said that Congress should be working diligently to engage the American people. The former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza goes on to say that lawmakers shouldn't be passing 2,700-page bills and he quips, "That's why I am only going to allow small bills -- three pages." Was he being serious?
ThinkProgress and The Los Angeles Times both ran blog posts covering Cain's statement, but neither mentioned the fact that he was likely joking around with the audience when he made his small bill pledge. Here is a text version of his statements:
Engage the people. Don’t try to pass a 2,700 page bill — and even they didn’t read it! You and I didn’t have time to read it. We’re too busy trying to live — send our kids to school. That’s why I am only going to allow small bills — three pages. You’ll have time to read that one over the dinner table. What does Herman Cain, President Cain talking about in this particular bill?
ThinkProgress took his words very seriously, writing:
After claiming that the administration had not read the bill, Cain promised the audience that as President, he would never sign pieces of legislation that are longer than three pages...
Cain’s pledge received a raucous round of applause from the crowd, who didn’t seem to fully appreciate the implications of such a radical cut-off mark. The vast majority of substantive bills passed by Congress are longer than three pages...
As president, Cain wouldn’t be able to sign any of the always-lengthy appropriations bills that keep the government running and the military funded. In fact, pretty much the only legislation that could squeak by under Cain’s three-page cut-off would be the simplest bills naming post offices and the like. But perhaps that’s exactly what Cain wants — to completely shutdown government by refusing to take any action that requires a prolonged attention span.
Actually, if you watch the video (below), you'll notice this "raucous round of applause" is preceded by Cain's smiling face and audience laughter. It seems as though Cain is clearly making a joke in an effort to better connect with his audience. Apparently, ThinkProgress thinks otherwise. Watch for yourself: