Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't We Have More Important Things to Talk About Than the Response to a Couple People Boo-ing at a Debate and the Name of Land Leased by Perry's Dad?

After hearing that Herman Cain was going to be on two Sunday news talk shows, This Week and Fox News Sunday, I decided to DVR both so I wouldn't miss them as I don't know too much about Herman Cain (beyond what I saw on the debates) and this would be a great opportunity to get to know him better.  I was a bit hesitant to watch This Week, I remember when it was This Week with David Brinkley and from what I have heard, Christiane Amanpour would have him turning over in his grave (on CNN she seemed vehemently anti-Israel and anti-US) but thought "hey, at least she will ask Herman Cain some tough questions and we'll see how he handles them."  Instead, what I got was some farcical grilling of a very politically correct nature.  You would think she would open up with questions about his 999 plan or how he would reform the tax system AND reduce the deficit at the same time.  Or at least, question him about his TARP support.  Nope.  God forbid.  Instead we got this (her side of the conversation from the transcript):

AMANPOUR: Let me -- let me start by asking you some of these questions.

AMANPOUR: You've just seen what President Obama said last night about that incident at the Florida debate, where there was booing in the audience when a gay soldier started to speak. Nobody said anything. You didn't, Rick Santorum, none of the others did. Do you wish you had said something, intervened at that moment?

AMANPOUR: But you don't think that you probably should have said something, like, audience, you know, please, a little bit of respect?

AMANPOUR: In retrospect, would you have done something, given the controversy it's...


AMANPOUR: And what do you think when President Obama says this is not the people we are, we're not so small as to boo anybody, much less a soldier serving and defending this country?

And the delivery was even more annoying than the transcript indicates.  It was just so whiny, repetitive, unobjective and completely off-topic.  It's not like Herman Cain boo-ed the soldier.  It's so clearly trying to paint Republicans as insensitive hatemongers.  But if you actually saw the video, the boo-ers weren't boo-ing the soldier, they were reacting (one of them actually sounded like he was howling) to his question about whether the GOP candidates would revert Pentagon policy to Don't Ask Don't Tell.  Also, this wasn't widespread boo-ing, it sounded like only two people in a hall of thousands.  I've been to that convention center more than once for medical conferences and in that very room for the keynote speeches/plenary sessions.  It is really gigantic and I just don't see how the people on stage would have been able to make heads or tails out of a couple of people boo-ing/shrieking.  I would think they were probably more focused on their answers to the questions that they might be asked.  This is exactly how Cain responded, which obviously was not to Amanpour's liking or she wouldn't have continued to badger him with questions about it until he said he wishes now that he reacted just to get her to shut up.

You would think that would have been the end of the politically correct segment of the interview.  Nope.  Here was the very next question:

AMANPOUR: On the front page of the Washington Post today, there's a story about Rick Perry...

CAIN: Yes.

AMANPOUR: ... and a hunting lodge that belonged to his family, bought in the 1980s. And on a rock apparently near the entrance there, there is a word that is a very ugly racial word, a slur.

CAIN: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And it's been -- it's been painted over. But the report raises questions about whether this rock, this stone, with that word on it, was still on display even quite recently in the last several years. What is your reaction to that?

Really?  The economy is tanking, the stock market is imploding and you have a surging Presidential candidate in front of you and you decide to ask a question about a friggin rock?  Granted, this was a hot topic today and yesterday but really, after the lightweight boo-ing question, did this interview really need more filler that was of no interest to anyone outside of Washington DC and the Upper West Side (and maybe those dirty hippy losers trying and failing to make a ruckus in Downtown Manhattan)?  In this case, unfortunately, Cain did take the bait.  As a Republican I would have thought he would just have said, "I don't know if what was painted on a rock on a piece of land leased by Perry's father has any bearing on any of the problems that we are facing as a country. The key question is whether Rick Perry is racist and based on his history and my personal knowledge of him, the answer is clearly no"  But instead he decided to score some cheap political points.

The allegation that Perry is racist actually does sound pretty absurd to the people that know him best, Texans, Republican and Democrat alike.  The Texas Tribune actually has a nice piece debunking the racism charges:

Even some of Perry's fiercest Texas critics say they do not believe he is racist. They point to his record of appointments as evidence: He appointed the state's first African-American state supreme court justice, Wallace Jefferson, and later made him chief justice. (Jefferson's great grandfather was a slave, "sold like a horse," Perry once said with disgust.) Perry's former general counsel and former chief of staff, Brian Newby, is black; so is Albert Hawkins, the former Health and Human Services Commissioner who Perry handpicked to lead the massive agency in 2002.

"He doesn't have a racist bone in his body," said former Democratic state Rep. Ron Wilson, who is black and served with Perry in his early years in the Legislature. "He didn't then, and he doesn't now."


Added Dallas Democratic Sen. Royce West, who is also black: "I don't agree with him on policy issues, but you can point to many things he has done that were sensitive to ethnic minorities."

Indeed, in his 11-year gubernatorial tenure, Perry has appointed more minorities to statewide posts — including university regents and secretaries of state — than any governor in Texas history. The biggest beating he's taken on the campaign trail so far? His unwavering support for granting in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants in Texas.

"Texans need to see that no matter where you come from, the color of your skin or the sound of your last name, that if you are willing to work hard and play by the rules you can become anything you want in this state," Perry said in a 2010 interview with The Dallas Examiner.

If I were Herman Cain, I would have been pretty upset about the line of questioning on both the sunday shows, especially This Week.  The line of questioning clearly ate into the time he could have spent featuring his plan and his competency to be President of the United States (after all, most people still don't know much about him and this was a great opportunity for him).  And you have to wonder, would a Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum have to field questions about some rock on a property Rick Perry and his dad occasionally hunted on? 

Anyway, all I could do was shake my head and still be uncertain about who Herman Cain is and what kind of President he will be.

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