“Rumors of Extramarital Affair End Campaign of Presidential Candidate Who Didn’t Know China Has Nuclear Weapons,” the Onion recently “reported.” While the Onion is a satirical news organization, this comedic headline perfectly puts Herman Cain’s presidential campaign into perspective. The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza ran his race to the White House as a Washington outsider, a fact that became explicitly clear after a multitude of televised political blunders.
There’s nothing wrong with being a Washington outsider, and Cain has an impressive record as a businessman, but if someone wants to become the leader of the most powerful nation of the world, some form of foreign policy experience — or at least extensive knowledge — should be a prerequisite.
This year’s presidential campaign has included a number of notable blunders. Gov. Rick Perry (R−Texas) was unable to name the third government agency he planned to eliminate, and then there was Cain’s interview gaffe on Libya, where Cain said he disagreed with the current administration’s handling of the situation in Libya, but then gave a long−winded and rambling response on how he would have done things differently. Earlier, Cain remarked in an interview with PBS NewsHour that China was a military threat to the United States because the country was attempting to develop nuclear weapons. China became a nuclear power in 1964.
Cain’s gaffes raised questions about his foreign policy credentials. How could someone who had no idea why he disagreed with Obama’s foreign policy in Libya possibly lead the nation? However, it was not these errors that brought Cain’s campaign down. The nail in Cain’s campaign coffin came in the form of multiple allegations of sexual harassment and an allegation of an affair. There only seems to be one question remaining after Cain suspended his campaign: How did he manage to get as far as he did — and briefly lead the Republican field — in the first place?
The idea of candidates as political “outsiders” has dominated this year’s campaign trail. Recently, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has taken to using the term to describe himself. While the word seems fitting for true Washington outsiders like Cain, the fact that Gingrich now embraces it is almost laughable. It is impossible for a person who was once in Gingrich’s position to claim that he’s now an outsider to the politics of Washington. Ironically enough, Gingrich — the current frontrunner — seems to think that the best way to get the most sought−after position in Washington is to make a claim of complete detachment from the capital.
It’s clear that Americans are looking for some type of change to happen in the country, as they were in 2008, and since difference and change are so closely tied together, the “outsider” candidate appears to be the more appealing choice. However, if Cain’s campaign shows us anything, it’s that sometimes the “outsider” choice isn’t always the best one. It takes a lot of expertise to run the United States, and although candidates claiming to be average Joes and Janes seem appealing at first, the extraordinary pressures of the presidency should only be assumed by someone who is truly prepared for the job.