Cain’s non-denial denial

Here is Herman Cain’s initial statement about an Atlanta woman’s contention that she has had an ongoing affair with him:

“Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault – which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate.

Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults – a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public’s right to know and the media’s right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one’s bedroom door.

Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media.”

via The PJ Tatler » Atlanta Woman Alleges 13-Year Affair with Herman Cain (Update: Cain Issues Second Statement).

What is missing in this statement?  (Hint:  Does he say it isn’t true?)

In subsequent statements, Cain has come closer to a denial, referring to “events that never happened” and “I did nothing wrong.”  But I’m not sure those are out-and-out denials either.

One might argue that consensual relationships should be private and have nothing to do with a person’s fitness to hold public office.  But Cain is a married man.

Some of you Cainites  (Cainanites?) rejected the earlier accusations of sexual harassment against him.  Is this any different?  Are you still supporting him?

The latest GOP debate

You report.  I didn’t watch it.  It does seem like something comes out of each debate, often including another front runner.  So what happened?

Did Gingrich divorce his wife on her deathbed?

One of the most troublesome charges against Newt Gingrich is that he served the divorce papers to his first wife in her hospital room where she was dying of cancer.   The increased scrutiny due to his front-runner status in the Republican presidential  race has at least uncovered the evidence that the story is not true.  From the Washington Post:

Although the thrust of the story about his first divorce is not in dispute — Gingrich’s first wife, Jackie Battley, has said previously that the couple discussed their divorce while she was in the hospital in 1980 — other aspects of it appear to have been distorted through constant retelling.

Most significant, Battley wasn’t dying at the time of the hospital visit; she is alive today. Nor was the divorce discussion in the hospital “a surprise” to Battley, as many accounts have contended. Battley, not Gingrich, had requested a divorce months earlier, according to Jackie Gingrich Cushman, the couple’s second daughter.

Further, Gingrich did not serve his wife with divorce papers on the day of his visit (unlike a subpoena, divorce papers aren’t typically “served”). Gingrich’s marriage to Battley had been troubled for many years before it dissolved 31 years ago, both parties have said.

via Aspects of Gingrich divorce story distorted – The Washington Post.

Still, he has been married three times.  His second divorce came in 1999 and involved an extra-marital relationship with a congressional staffer who is now his third wife.

Do you think these transgressions should disqualify him from the presidency?

Newt as front-runner, so attacks begin

Newt Gingrich, according to some polls, has pulled ahead of Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.  So, following form, the news stories are digging up unfavorable material about him.

But there is a difference this time:  The stories are about how he has violated conservative orthodoxy:  His think tank to propose free market solutions to health care issues once suggested–or maybe even came up with the idea–of mandatory insurance coverage, a hallmark of Obamacare.  He once proposed a cap and trade policy to control pollution.  He believes or once believed in global warming.

But these attacks may have a different effect:  They may make him more electable.  They show him not to be the conservative attack dog that he has been stereotyped as being.  Rather, he comes across as a pragmatic problem solver who is not as ideological as people might fear.

The problem is that Republican primary voters are dominated by us conservative purists.  Whereas the voting public is scared to death of conservative purists.  So we have the dilemma of anyone the Republicans may be willing to nominate cannot win, and anyone who could win cannot get the Republican nomination.

The fact is, Newt Gingrich is an idea machine.  He just churns them out.  (Notice, for example, in the link below, his idea about how school janitors.)  And think tanks, which he has been running, are idea factories.  Not all of the ideas work or survive long after further reflection.  (Who knows if his janitor idea would work?)  But Newt is certainly a creative guy with a massive intellect.  And certainly our problems today call for those skill sets.

And though one might fault him for having once proposed ideas that conservatives now oppose, no one would surely classify Newt as a liberal or even a moderate.  If Newt and Mitt Romney both fall short of conservative purity, surely Newt would be more acceptable, wouldn’t he?

Then again, there is the character issue.  Newt has been married three times, has been unmasked as an adulterer, has a reputation for arrogance and for not being disciplined.  He has expressed remorse for his misdeeds and has recently converted to Catholicism.  Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a Mormon, and in accord with that non-Christian religion, he lives a very moral life.   His character, by all accounts, has been stellar, with a strong marriage and a strong family, and no external vices that anyone can see.  The man doesn’t even drink coffee.

What do you think?  Newt or Mitt?

Gingrich defends himself, says he can handle scrutiny – The Washington Post.

Congress fails again

Back in August, Congress averted a government shutdown at the last minute by kicking the can to a “Supercommittee” that was assigned to find $1.2 trillion in savings.  The incentive was a provision that if the bipartisan task force failed to do so, $1.2 trillion would automatically be cut, with half from social programs (to get the liberals to co-operate) and half from defense (to get the conservatives to co-operate).  The deadline for an agreement would be Thanksgiving.

Well, that would be this Thursday and it is evident that no agreement is likely, with the sticking points being the same ones that stymied Congress back in April:  Democrats want not only cuts but new revenue, and Republicans won’t agree to any tax increases.

But doing nothing will be just as good, given the automatic cuts that will take place (though not until 2013).  Right?  You would think so.  That was the agreement.

But now the word is that Congress will renege on that deal by adding back what would have been cut out of  social programs and national defense!

Supercommittee Expectations Wane on Tax Divide – Bloomberg.

Huntsman’s conservative credentials

The impression most people have is that Jon Huntsman is not conservative, that he is at best a moderate.  Not so, says Nichole Austin:

Despite scuttlebutt to the contrary, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is not a Democrat in disguise, but was in fact a relatively ambitious conservative governor. And if he is “moderate,” he is not appreciably more moderate than other leading candidates or party leaders. If one compares records honestly and looks at policy positions realistically, one will find that in many ways, Huntsman is more conservative than Mitt Romney — who will likely receive the Republican nomination. A surreal juxtaposition to be sure.

As governor of Utah, Huntsman ushered in a boldly transformed tax system. He flattened the tax code, doing away with many, though not all, deductions and credits, and changing six-brackets of progressive income tax rates into one low 5% rate. (Compare with Rick Perry’s proposed 20% flat income tax and Herman Cain’s emblematic 9%.) According to, this new system reduced taxes approximately 30% for the wealthiest residents, and due to remaining tax deductions “the effective tax rate [was] about 3 percent for Utah taxpayers earning $70,000 a year in 2008 and 4 percent for a household with $100,000 in taxable income[.]” He also eliminated the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, a credit Reagan supported and which many Republicans today label “socialist.”

Also according to PolitiFact, which simply crunched Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, Utah was fourth in the nation for job creation during the period immediately preceding and including the 2008-2009 recession, right behind Texas, which was third in the nation.

This is just the beginning. One proposal in Washington that has seemingly become too radical for even many leading Republicans to fully sign on to is the “Ryan plan,” which would rein in unsustainable entitlements, most notably Medicare. Newt Gingrich has criticized the Ryan plan, and has vacillated considerably on the proposal — at best, he seems to think it’s too big, too soon, although at one point he said he would vote for it. Romney supports a weaker version of the Ryan plan, which would not phase out Medicare, but keep it as an option, allowing private carriers to compete with it — we might call it the “competitive option,” a Democratic euphemism for the “public option.” Michele Bachmann supports the Ryan plan, but also voiced reservations regarding potential changes to Medicare. Huntsman, on the other hand, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal commending the Ryan plan, and has said he would vote for it. He has re-iterated, unequivocally, his support on multiple occasions. This puts Huntsman in the same camp as Herman Cain and, to some extent, Rick Perry, who wants states to be able to opt out of entitlements and believes they’re “Ponzi schemes.” Mitt Romney later criticized this very accurate characterization of entitlements, saying Perry’s rhetoric was over the top and frightening.

Of course, one other noteworthy item on Huntsman’s resume is that he pursued free market-based health care reform in Utah. The system primarily involved a competitive private health care exchange, diversified consumer options, and electronic medical records. Gregg Girvan of the Heritage Foundation praised it as a “blueprint” for state health care reform. Furthermore, the state did not impose a health insurance mandate on private citizens, although early on, Huntsman seemed to have favored a mandate, as did former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have endorsed insurance mandates of some kind and seem to think that they’re necessary features of a workable health care reform model. On a related note, like most other candidates, Huntsman also said he would repeal Obamacare.

Huntsman has also been consistently pro-life, and has spoken very passionately on the issue. He signed numerous pro-life laws while governor, including making second trimester abortions illegal, enacting fetal pain awareness legislation, and instituting a trigger to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned. He also supports a “right to life” amendment to the Constitution. He has not signed the Susan B. Anthony List pledge (Romney and Cain have not either), but his record speaks for itself, and he has been praised by numerous pro-life groups.

via PJ Media » Everything You Thought You Knew About Jon Huntsman Is Wrong.

Plus, the former ambassador to China does know a lot about foreign policy, unlike most of the rest of the field.   His only non-conservative positions, according to Austin, are his belief that global warming is real and his willingness to accept civil unions for gays.  I’m not sure what’s conservative about one’s position on global warming–surely that’s a matter of opinion and interpretation of data–and, indeed, Newt Gingrich, nobody’s liberal, has accepted that man-man global warming is real.  And civil unions at least stop a little short of  gay marriage.

So is the only real problem with Huntsman is that he, like Romney, is a Mormon?