Posted by: Debby Durkee | September 29, 2011

Herman Cain is able.

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Herman Cain is able.

If all you know about Herman Cain is that he is a former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, then you don’t know Herman Cain. His experience is deep and wide in the business community, as president of the Restaurant Association, at the Federal Reserve and with political mentors like Jack Kemp. He’s a ball of fire with not just the ability to take lots of bulls by lots of horns, but with the love of country and the free enterprise system and the good humor necessary to get this country back on the right track. This is from a column by Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal.

You hear the same thing said about Herman Cain all the time: Herman Cain has some really interesting ideas, but . . .

I love Herman Cain, but . . .

But what?

But he can’t win.

Why not?

At best, the answer has to do with that cloudy word “electability.” Or that Mr. Cain has never held elected political office. Snip –

Cain ran and lost the race for Senate in his home state of Georgia to Johnny Isakson in 2004, and he hasn’t run again until now. But, he did beat frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in the Florida straw poll last week, no mean feat.

Though he’s got the governorship credential, Mr. Romney’s emphasis in this campaign is on his private-sector experience. It’s good, despite the knock on Bain Capital’s business model. But measured by résumés, Herman Cain’s looks deeper in terms of working on the private sector’s front lines.  Snip –

In the late 1970s, Mr. Cain was recruited from Coca-Cola in Atlanta, his first job in business, to work for Pillsbury in Minneapolis. His rise was rapid and well-regarded. He joined the company’s restaurant and foods group in 1978 as director of business analysis. In the early 1980s, Pillsbury sent him to learn the hamburger business at a Burger King in Hopkins, Minn. Then they assigned him, at age 36, to revive Pillsbury’s stumbling, franchise Burger King business in the Philadelphia region. He succeeded. According to a 1987 account in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pillsbury’s then-president Win Wallin said: “He was an excellent bet. Herman always seemed to have his act together.”

In 1986, Pillsbury sent the 41-year-old Mr. Cain to turn around their Godfather’s Pizza business, headquartered in Omaha. The Herman Cain who arrived there April 1 sounded like the same man who roused voters last Sunday in Florida: “I’m Herman Cain and this ain’t no April Fool’s joke. We are not dead. Our objective is to prove to Pillsbury and everyone else that we will survive.”

Pillsbury sold Godfather’s to Mr. Cain and some of his managers in 1988. He ran it until 1996 and served as CEO of the National Restaurant Association from 1996-1999. This June, Mr. Cain visited with the Journal’s editors and put the issue of health-insurance availability inside the context of the restaurant industry. He said the restaurant association tried hard to devise a health-insurance program able to serve the needs of an industry whose work force is complex—executives and managers, full-time workers, part-timers, students and so forth. Any conceivable insurance system would require great flexibility in plan-choice and design.  Snip –

It was Herman Cain who challenged then President Bill Clinton on Hillarycare at a townhall meeting in Omaha, NE  – saying that there were problems with that bill: It would force companies to fire workers. Herman Cain was a math major at Morehouse College and has a Master’s Degree in computer science from Perdue University. He did the math, it didn’t add up, and he’s credited (or vilified depending on your political persuasion) with bringing down Hillarycare. You can watch that video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vy542UgSelQ

You can read another excellent article on Herman Cain by Robert Costa of National Review Online that goes in depth into his relationship with Jack Kemp and a multitude of other excellent facts about this impressive man. You can read that here: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/267029/introducing-herman-cain-robert-costa

Continuing with Henninger’s article:

When Mr. Cain talked to the Journal’s editors, the most startling thing he said, and which he’s been repeating lately, was that he could win one-third of the black vote. Seeing Herman Cain make his case to black audiences would be interesting, period. Years ago, describing his chauffeur father’s influence on him in Atlanta, Mr. Cain said: “My father gave me a sense of pride. He was the best damn chauffeur. He knew it, and everybody else knew it.” Here’s guessing he’d get more of this vote than past GOP candidates.

Does a résumé like Herman Cain’s add up to an American presidency? I used to think not. But after watching the American Idol system we’ve fallen into for discovering a president—with opinion polls, tongue slips and media caprice deciding front-runners and even presidents—I’m rewriting my presidential-selection software.  Snip –

Put it this way: The GOP nominee is running against the incumbent president. Unlike the incumbent, Herman Cain has at least twice identified the causes of a large failing enterprise, designed goals, achieved them, and by all accounts inspired the people he was supposed to lead. Not least, Mr. Cain’s life experience suggests that, unlike the incumbent, he will adjust his ideas to reality.

Herman Cain is a credible candidate. Whether he deserves to be president is something voters will decide. But he deserves a serious look.

My businessman husband scoffs at those who think that a CEO of a business doesn’t know anything about politics. He says that a CEO comes in as a replacement. Some of those working at the company really liked the old guy, some of those working at the company really don’t like the new guy. Folks like Cain have to come in, get everyone on the same page and then save the company. Cain was able to do that. That takes political savvy as well as intelligence and commitment to a cause. That’s a huge resume enhancer. You can read more from Henninger here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204226204576599031274832242.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

As a personal note, I was in the crowd at the Cobb County Tea Party in Marietta, GA in July 2009. Herman Cain did his radio program from there and was the speaker. His love of country and his amazing way of relating that to the crowd are memorable. He said as I recall: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – the Founders put them in that order for a reason. You can’t pursue happiness without liberty and you can’t have liberty without control over your own life.” One other one – he said something to the effect that his grandfather was a slave and he wasn’t going back to that – whether it’s a slave to a person or a slave to a government made no difference to him! Amen, Mr. Cain.

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