While this pre-primary maneuvering may be tedious and inconsequential in the long run, businessman Herman Cain's upset victory in the Florida straw poll reveals in part how presumed-frontrunner Rick Perry has damaged his chances because of his lackluster articulation skills--unlike the charismatic Mr. Cain, an experienced executive with a solid track record of success in the private sector--in the debates thus far.
Obviously the best debater doesn't make the best president; that's a given. But the American people have already proven in several presidential cycles that they are willing to elect a smooth-talking con man. Leaving aside the merits of thus or that issue, given the bias of the media, the GOP candidate will have no room for error and must be a great communicator when the broader, non-ideological electorate is paying attention during the general election debates in the fall.
Many observers have concluded that the incumbent lacks enthusiasm for the actual work of the presidency, and far prefers golf, partying with celebrities, fundraisers, and reading campaign platitudes off the teleprompter. But his debate skills are also well acknowledged.
The president is probably a lot like some of the guys in our study group during law school. Unlike many students who slogged through the casebooks and the lectures, this group seldom did the reading and their class attendance was spotty. Yet they had a genius for cramming the necessary information right before the final exam (which in law school almost always determines the final course grade) and wound up with As. It wasn't really fair to those that put in the time, but that was the reality.
Regardless of his or her study/preparation habits, the ultimate GOP presidential nominee must be able to "ace the final exam" on national television next fall. A candidate with Kim Delaney's public speaking skills is a sure loser.
Here is Cain speaking about his recovery from cancer in terms the electorate can fundamentally relate to: