Purdue has never had an alumnus elected as President of the United States. Of course, we were ineligible for the first century of this country's history since the University wasn't established until 1869. Reader HammerDown thinks this could end with today's subject for Profiles in Badassery. He suggested Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and possible Presidential nominee for 2012. It is rare that someone is considered a badass when their greatest achievement may still lie ahead of them, but I would say that possibly being the leader of the free world would certainly fit the bill.
Cain was born on December 13, 1945 in Georgia. He grew up there as the son of working class parents and attended Morehouse College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1967. I have to give him a ton of credit for growing up as a black man in the south during the Civil Rights Era. Anyone who suffered through the indignity of segregation in the South is certainly a badass in my book.
After graduating from Morehouse, Cain decided to head to Purdue, where his connection to us as Boilermakers was forged. He earned a Master's Degree in computer science from Purdue, one of our most well known graduate programs.
Cain is an extremely intelligent man. I would like to think that earning a graduate degree from Purdue in one of our school's toughest fields wouldn't be easy. His intelligence allowed him to get some pretty sweet jobs after leaving Purdue, and according to The Atlantic, it led to a fluke entry into politcs:
He got a job doing work for the Navy on fire-control systems for ships and fighter planes, but gravitated to business-Coca-Cola, Pillsbury, and Burger King-and eventually became CEO of Godfather's Pizza, which he ran for 10 years.
His entrance into national politics was a fluke-albeit, if he runs, an enormously beneficial one. In 1994, Cain, then still CEO of Godfather's Pizza, participated in a town-hall meeting that Bill Clinton held to drum up support for his flagging health-care plan. He challenged the president's claim that restaurateurs would bear only a marginal new cost. Clinton objected, but Cain wouldn't relent. "I'd had my financial people run the numbers," he told me. The Wall Street Journal published them, and after Clinton's plan collapsed, Newsweek identified Cain as one of its "saboteurs"-a badge of honor, especially among conservatives today. - The Atlantic
Cain was a long time host of The Herman Cain Radio Show on Atlanta's News talk 750AM radio station. While the show lacked in creativity for a name, it made up for it in political discussion. Cain's background as restaurateur has allowed him to gain quite a bit of knowledge when it comes to economics. On his radio show he discussed the relationship between business and politics with great passion. He is an unabashed conservative, fighting against government spending. He also spoke about energy independence, national defense, tax cuts, and defending the constitution. To me, anyone who defends the constitution is a badass, especially since the vast majority of people in this country barely know what it is, let alone what it says.
Cain left his radio show this month as he began his exploratory committee for the Republican Party's nomination for the 2012 Presidential election.
Our next President?
Cain is a strong opponent of a national healthcare plan. While I can't say I agree with him totally since healthcare should be a right for everyone in this country, he fought fiercey against President Clinton's healthcare plan:
The Clintons would later blame "Harry and Louise," the fictional couple in the ads aired by the insurance industry, for undermining health reform. But the real saboteurs are named Herman and John. Herman Cain is the president of Godfather's Pizza and president-elect of the National Restaurant Association. An articulate black entrepreneur, Cain transformed the debate when he challenged Clinton at a town meeting in Kansas City, Mo., last April. Cain asked the president what he was supposed to say to the workers he would have to lay off because of the cost of the "employer mandate." Clinton responded that there would be plenty of subsidies for small businessmen, but Cain persisted. "Quite honestly, your calculation is inaccurate," he told the president. "In the competitive marketplace it simply doesn't work that way." - Joshua Green, The Atlantic
Cain ran for a Senate seat in Georgia in 2004, but he lost in the Republican primary with only 26.2% of the vote to Johnny Isakson, who went on to win the Seante seat that fall. Since 2004 Cain has become an advocate for returning to the gold standard with our nation's currency, something that harkens back to the turn of the 20th centrury. He believes that our current deficit is a result of going away from the gold standard and the overinflation of our currency.
Cain is a strong advocate of the Tea party, and it is with this group that he is seeking the 2012 Presidential nomination. On January 12th of this year he announced he was forming an exploratory committee for the Presidential nomination. Surprisingly, some polls had him as an early leading candidate for the nomination. A December 2010 poll from RedState.com declared him the early leader over Sarah Palin, and Cain can probably even realize that North Korea is not our ally.
Obviously it is way too early to speculate where his campaign is going. Some have labled him as nothing more than an also-ran, while an alterNet journalist labeled him (in a quite racist way) as "a black garbage-pail kid" and "a monkey". Cain has a lot of support among fiscal conservatives and his national profile seems to be growing.
Other badass traits
While possibly being the leader of the free world is cool, Cain is a badass for overcoming personal adversity. In 2006 he was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in both his colon and his liver. Stage IV is the worst type, as it means the cancer has metastasized and spread to other organs in the body. Stage IV cancer in the liver is extremely bad, as the survival rate for that stage is very small. Cain underwent chemotherapy and surgery, and is now cancer free, however. Imagine what he could do as a spokesman for the Paint Crew vs. Izzone Cancer challenge.
No matter your politcal views, it would be pretty cool to be a fellow alumnus with the President of the United States. Cain is a badass because he sees a problem with this country and he is in the position to do something about it. Also, as if I need to mention it again, he kicked cancer's ass. Truly he deserves this Profile in Badassery. With that, I leave you with the end of the article about him in the Atlantic. Feel free to hum the Battle Hymn of the Republic as you read.
Cain is a born talker, with a rich baritone that sounds uncannily like the actor Samuel L. Jackson. He's also a showman, and utterly uninhibited. Recently, he survived Stage 4 cancer, and claims he wouldn't have under Obamacare. Although often outrageous, he has a shrewd sense of his appeal. At a GOP confab in New Orleans last year, Cain railed against liberals, who, he said, slander conservatives as "racist, redneck tea-baggers." He paused for effect, then brought the house down: "I had to go look in the mirror to see if I missed something!"
Last year, Cain addressed more than 40 Tea Party rallies, hit all the early presidential states, and became a YouTube sensation. He pops up regularly on Fox News. He has devoted followers-on Twitter, on the radio, and in the real world too. He calls himself the "dark horse." People love it. In December, he was the surprise choice for 2012 GOP nominee in a reader poll on the conservative Web site RedState.com, narrowly edging out Palin. "I'm 70, 80 percent there," he told me. The only question is money. If he can raise enough, he'll get in the race.
Cain would surely enliven the proceedings, and might even steal a debate or two. But is he for real? Maybe. "The people posting about Cain on Facebook and Twitter are the activists I look to for the pulse of the Tea Party," Tim Albrecht, a top aide to Iowa's Republican governor, Terry Branstad, told me. "They've taken an increased interest in him." Get ready, America, for The Hermanator Experience®.