Opinion

If Cain wins, the tea party loses

Cain was not only wrong about TARP, but called anyone who even believed there was a housing crisis “ignorant.” Wrote Cain in 2005: “The media have been foretelling a massive bust in housing prices for months now … That kind of ignorance makes homeowners fear that their most expensive possession could turn worthless overnight.”

Added Cain: “That won’t happen.”

Well, it wasn’t “ignorance.” The housing bust did happen, to a tragic degree. Cain suggested TARP was the proper action to fix it, and his establishment-minded delusions do not end there. In a piece titled “In Herman Cain’s Writings, Startling Lack of Foresight,” Time magazine’s Mark Benjamin writes:

In a July 21, 2008, column, Cain referred to Wall Street’s troubles as “the mainstream media’s it’s-not-a-crisis-but-we-are-going-to-make-it-look-like-one banking crisis.” In less than two months, Lehman Brothers would declare bankruptcy and, a few weeks later, Congress would pass a massive bailout to rescue the nation’s largest banks.

Cain, of course, supported those bailouts to “correct” an economic problem he insisted did not exist.

And Cain kept insisting this after the bailouts, or as Benjamin notes:

Even in September, Cain was upbraiding Democrats for ignoring great economic news. “We still have not had a recession since 2001,” Cain wrote early that month. “But don’t tell the Democrats and the mainstream media. You might disrupt their imaginary recession.”

I like Herman Cain. As a native of South Carolina, I have always been entertained whenever he guest hosts for Neal Boortz’s Atlanta-based syndicated radio program. Cain is quick with quips and great with soundbites.

But talk radio entertainment does not a president make. Let’s not forget what the tea party was originally about: fiscal responsibility and constitutional fidelity, no compromise and no mercy. The fact stands that on the greatest economic crisis of our time, Cain was dead wrong in his predictions and fully in line with establishment thinking on how to correct them. His sheer ignorance of the basic economic factors in play as the crisis unfolded is staggering. And we have no evidence to suggest Cain’s career-long disposition toward establishment group-think has changed.

If the tea party settles for Cain as the GOP presidential nominee, is the movement I heralded gone? Is support for TARP now forgiven? Is establishment thinking now acceptable so long as its spokesman is charming and anti-establishment on a mere cosmetic level?

This is precisely what “conservatism” was before the tea party, and precisely why big government endures to this day — and why the longer Cain endures with the GOP grassroots, the further the tea party will wither.

Jack Hunter writes at the “Paulitical Ticker,” where he is the official Ron Paul 2012 campaign blogger.