Underqualifications

>> Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I'm just going to make this a quick two-for-one, just because I can't really believe anybody is having these conversations or that anyone is contributing to them.

First off, the big political story of the past couple of weeks has been the allegations of sexual misconduct by fruit metaphor titan Herman Cain. People want to know if the allegations are true, with a secondary focus on whether (if the allegations are true) or not sexually assaulting and/or harassing somebody disqualifies someone for the Presidency Of The United States.

No, what disqualifies someone from being President is the fact that someone is a stunt candidate with no real qualifications for the Presidency and an abysmal and obvious ignorance of basic political and economic issues and a lack of any actual campaign structure, someone who is pretty obviously only running as a gimmick to sell a book that nobody would care about otherwise (and with some justification), and who is only gaining any traction as a "serious" (quotes necessary) candidate because a certain vocal chunk of the Republican party will refuse to accept that they have basically no choice about nominating an opportunistic RINO Mormon from liberal Massachusetts up to and probably even on election day.

I'm not saying that sexual assault doesn't matter. If Herman Cain--or anyone--groped a woman without her consent, he should be prosecuted for assault and/or sued by the alleged victim unless the statute of limitations has expired, in which case one regrets that he wasn't prosecuted or sued for whatever reason. But wondering if this disqualifies Cain for the White House is like wondering if Pat Paulsen should have been disqualified if someone had seen him kicking a dog. The possible difference being that Paulsen was probably a more credible candidate; hell, Howard The Duck was a more credible nominee.

We're not talking about a shocking revelation that Jon Huntsman groped somebody, here. Huntsman, whose general rejection by the GOP probably tells you everything you need to know about how ridiculous and awful the Republican Party is these days, is the kind of guy who used to be described as "statesmanlike", a former governor with international diplomatic experience who has worked in the administrations of Presidents from both parties and has shown an ability for being reasonable and willing to work with opponents and allies alike; I may not agree with his particular politics, but I wouldn't be afraid the country was going to hell if he somehow became President of it. If it turned out he was going around groping people, we would have to have a serious discussion about whether hideous and heinous personal failings outweighed literally decades of exemplary public service to his country. It would be a national tragedy we'd be talking about and not just a disgusting and sordid personal assault between two third parties, one of them already known to be a flake of questionable judgement.

Substitute all the Herman Cain headlines with "Rich, Obscure Idiot Fondled Some Lady In A Restaurant More Than Ten Years Ago", and ask if this would this be worth all the fuss? Yeah, exactly. If the allegations are true, he's a creep. But this has absolutely no effect on his chances of being elected President. Press charges or move along, already.

Similarly, there's been a bunch of fuss this week because overpaid movie hack Brett Ratner said something predictably classy this week. Specifically, he was at a screening for his widely-panned new flick, Tower Heist, and was asked about rehearsing scenes and replied "rehearsal's for fags". Now, it seems that--for, yet again, inscrutable reasons--the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had picked Ratner to produce the next Oscars presentation, and lots of people are now saying the Academy ought to fire Ratner (who has, of course and inevitably, apologized for his remark).

I've seen parts of Ratner's unwatchable Rush Hour movies--I couldn't tell you which ones, exactly, though it didn't look like it would make any difference--and I paid good money to see X-Men: The Last Stand; normally, I'd go to some trouble to provide you with IMDB links to those films, but, really, it's just easier for me to tell you to look before you flush next time you go potty if you really need additional information and insight into Ratner's oeuvre. Ratner makes Renny Harlin and Michael Bay look like Kubrick and Wells, respectively; the biggest argument in his favor as a director, meanwhile, is that as long as Uwe Boll and Tommy Wiseau can get financial backing, Ratner is far from being the shittiest director alive (he really ought to be kissing the ground beneath their feet, frankly).

Ratner's comment was tacky and stupid, but it's no more the reason to shitcan him from the Oscars than Herman Cain's allegedly wandering hands are the reason he shouldn't be running for President. The reason to shitcan Brett Ratner from the Oscars is that there was no good reason to offer him the job in the first place, especially since I can probably find you a six-year-old who would do a better job shooting the show in exchange for being paid in Twizzlers.

To which you might be saying, "Well, all he really has to do at The Oscars is point the camera and get out of the way." By that logic, every well-cast abortion Ratner's helmed ought to be fucking Lawrence Of Arabia, but no. Brett Ratner is like King Midas. If everything Midas had touched had turned to horseshit.

I would boycott Tower Heist, except I've already told the ScatterKat (a.k.a. the Significant Other) that the movie might be a rental but I'm not really interested in seeing it in the theatre unless she's buying the tickets for it, in which case I'll go just because I'm goofy on her and all that (plus, and I didn't mention this part, but I'm still a sucker for movie theatre popcorn; really, though, I'm kind of just holding out for Martha Marcy May Marlene to come to Charlotte). Similarly, I'd consider boycotting Godfather's Pizza (even though Cain is no longer their CEO and hasn't been for a decade), except the fact that the nearest one is in a truckstop on I40 in Conover, more than forty miles away from my home, really makes such an effort simultaneously (and paradoxically) all too easy and more trouble than it's worth. How do you go out of your way not to go to something that's already out of your way? For that matter, I don't think I've actually watched an Oscars telecast since The Color Purple got royally shafted in 1986, so it's going to be a bit pointless for me to say I'm not watching whichever one, this year's or next's (I'm not even sure, is how much I care) Ratner's going to be responsible for.

It's really like there's an appalling lack of standards. It's not like either of these men are public exemplars, to be respected and emulated and now they've disappointed us and broken their hearts. If they're examples of anything, it's the principle that incompetence in an endeavor isn't always punished and may in fact be well-rewarded. (I have no idea whether Cain was a competent pizza restauranteur in his day beyond the circumstantial evidence that it seems like all the Godfather'ses in Charlotte seemed to close around the same time he was running the company, but he's a hapless presidential candidate who has lately been running in second place ahead of people who are actually serious about winning. Ratner, meanwhile, continues to be employed by Hollywood in capacities that don't actually involve him asking if anyone wants butter or would like to super-size for just a dollar more.) I don't see any point in complaining they're suddenly underqualified for roles they were never qualified for to start with. Here endeth the rant.




7 comments:

Janiece Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 5:21:00 PM EST  

Christ, no shit. It's simply appalling to me that anyone is taking that clown seriously as a candidate for the POTUS. I'm honest enough to admit that I'd prefer a non-conservative President, but the Republicans are just so damned UNSERIOUS.

Carol Elaine Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 5:38:00 PM EST  

After seeing Martha Marcy May Marlene this weekend and responding to your comment on my blog entry about the movie, I can definitely recommend it. I hope it makes it to Charlotte as well.

beemodern Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 6:00:00 PM EST  

Good post!

I don't think he is really being taken seriously, except by the usual whack-a-doodles who can be convinced to support anyone opposite the libruls.

Instead, I think he's getting much airtime and attention because by the time the primary rolls around, candidates like Romney suddenly seem, well, so normal and moderate by comparison to the clowns entertaining the masses up to that point. So much so, even Dems and Independents think so!

Nathan Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 6:39:00 PM EST  

I can't comment on this since a certain ANON person who shares a couch with me worked on Tower Heist.

And I may (or may not) have been groped by Herman Cain in 1998.

Carol Elaine Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 9:03:00 PM EST  

Nathan, I'm sure that Cain was just envious of your impressive mustache. It was just asking for a groping!

(I've never taken Cain seriously as a candidate. It's a terrible shame that so many do.)

Leanright,  Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 1:10:00 PM EST  

The last thing we need is consecutive Presidents with zero qualifications to be presidents.

I'm not a Cain supporter; yes he has charisma, but that works for hosting the Oscar's or having a show on Fox; not running the country. He's certainly not an idiot, but the jury is out as to wheter or not he used poor judgement. If he did, there's really not much difference that "Troopergate". Really.

Romney or Huntsman would be my choice. A ticket of the two would be even better, but I'm not sure America is ready for an All LDS ticket. What started as, what I thought was, a serious debate on ideas about the country, has become a circus, somewhat. Candidates attacking eachother, when they should truly be talking about the mess we're in.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll enjoy some snarky responses.

Eric Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 5:25:00 PM EST  

I think we beg to differ on what counts as qualifications, Dave. It could be professional bias, but I tend to think "Harvard lawyer" rates highly, and possibly compensates for a wholly relative lack of experience in public office.

That said, I am inclined to think it's at least possible that Obama's relative lack of political experience has shown itself in some of the President's dealings with the legislative branch and his general failure to sell policies to the general public--in some cases even after they've been implemented and are working.

I don't think that being a CEO is the least bit useful for public office. It isn't, and the idea that running a business is anything like running a state or country is a farcical notion the public swallows in the same manner as the ubiquitous joke about running the country as a business that is passed off as policy. (As a general rule, the purpose of a company is to provide return for investors, a function that's conspicuously absent from any list of reasons humans create government, from the idealistic to the historical to the theoretical.)

I do not think gubernatorial experience directly relates, though it's obviously much more relevant than business experience. Much may demand on whether one is the governor of Texas (I'll concede that this may provide some preparation for being president) or governor of Alaska (there are city mayors who are responsible for more people and more complicated budgets). I think House and Senate experience is generally very helpful, and Obama had very little of that when he ran.

But I don't think you can come up with a magical formula. Cain isn't unqualified to be President merely because of a lack of public office experience beyond whatever he does as a Fed chairman, he's unqualified because his public statements (and, for that matter, actions) display a profound ignorance and naievete about history, economics, politics, law and diplomacy.

The comparison between Cain and Clinton may be more apt than it would first appear. The issue in Clinton's case is less moral than one of sensibility: I don't particularly care about who sucks the President's cock, but "What if Monica Lewinsky had been a Russian spy?" is an interesting question. (One can ask similar questions related to the dalliances of JFK or FDR, to be fair.) But, again, the difference is really that I don't think there was any question as to whether Clinton possessed some relevant leadership experience, whereas I don't think we even get to the question of whether poor judgement disqualifies Herman Cain when he's already not qualified to begin with.

One of the things about this subject, of course (and the reason there's no good formula for what makes a good--much less a great--President), is that there's no job like it and the only people with relevant experience are now disqualified from putting it to use after they're re-elected one time. I.e. the only people who have directly experience directly bearing on the ability to be President are ex-Presidents. Some people who appeared qualified have proven lacking when things got real, while others who looked like poor candidates going in have demonstrated greatness under the gun. Indeed, if memory serves, Abraham Lincoln was criticized for being especially and significantly unqualified for the job before he was inaugurated, and now, of course, is commonly regarded as the greatest (and with good cause, and even those who assign the top spot to George Washington instead tend to include Abe in the top five). I doubt Cain would present that kind of happy surprise in the improbable event of his ascending to the office, but history, one admits, is often baffling when it comes to this kind of thing.

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