Do I mind that Mitch is out in 2012? No. Even though I understand that he’s a stellar government executive, with some good (although not great) conservative chops, I could not like him. I would have voted for him on the ABO (Anyone But Obama) principle, but I wouldn’t have liked it.
Of course, 2012 is not helped by Krauthammer, a respected conservative commentator, essentially calling Cain a joke. As it is, I’m hearing from more and more people — blog friends and people I talk to in the real world — who are impressed by Cain’s life experience, his personality, his skill set and his ethics. While he may not have worked in government, his executive experience far exceeds that of past candidates, such as Obama, Kerry or McCain.
I’m watching Cain very carefully. If he can get past a media that will subject him to a lynching that makes the attacks on Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice look like a picnic, I think he’s a real possibility. The ticket would almost certainly have to be balanced by someone who has wandered through the government for a few years, and I’m still thinking John Bolton.
UPDATE: Cain will have a problem with beltway thinking, nicely encapsulated in this paragraph by John Podhoretz (a commentator I respect and admire):
The candidate for president who best stands the chance of earning the gadfly-with-breakout-potential trophy is Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who went viral even in pre-YouTube days by confronting Bill Clinton at a health-care forum back in 1994. Cain did well with focus-group watchers after the first GOP debate in South Carolina. He formally announced his candidacy today. But the question now is not, Can Herman Cain win? He almost certainly can’t, and shouldn’t; he’s never held elective office and the presidency has not an entry-level position for anyone but Eisenhower, the victor of World War II.
I think it’s worth mentioning that we’ve had two entry level presidents, not just one: Obama and Eisenhower. Obama has been a disaster; Eisenhower was a success. I think it’s not political experience that matters, it’s life experience, values and intelligence. The former lacked it, the latter didn’t. Cain is more of an Eisenhower than he is an Obama.
UPDATE II: On the other hand, here’s a serious red flag “uh-oh” about Cain. It turns out he has the same problem that bedeviled Palin in 2008: he’s simply not au courant on hot topic political issues. We know he’ll find his way to the right answer, but he’ll probably fall down the political well before he gets there.