Archive for the ‘Presidency’ Category

The President’s Lawyer

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on January 8th, 2009

President elect final.jpgBarack Obama’s appointments to cabinet positions give us a sense of what he may be like as President, and what policies he may pursue.  The official who best reflects the President’s over-arching theory of his role in our constitutional structure is the head the Office of Legal Counsel, the agency that advises the president on the legality of his actions.  This week, Obama announced that his nominee for assistant attorney general in charge of the OLC is Professor Dawn Johnsen.  Currently a constitutional law professor at Indiana University, Johnsen worked in the OLC office during the Clinton administration.  Obama’s choice is cause for celebration because Johnsen is an expert on the legality of presidential actions, and the mechanisms for insuring that the president follows the law.

Obama’s choice of Johnsen is important, both symbolically and practically, because it follows eight years of the OLC facilitating George W. Bush’s imperial presidency.  Last month, Vice-President Cheney invoked former President Nixon’s famous statement, “if the president does it, it’s legal” when describing the president’s power during wartime.  Bush’s legal advisors came close to following that adage.  Relying on their theory of the “unitary executive,” Bush OLC officials such as John Yoo advised the President that he had the authority to order torture of suspected terrorists and conduct wiretaps without court authorization even though both practices were expressly prohibited by federal statutes.  Johnsen has been an outspoken critic of both those policies and the go-it-alone cowboy theory of the presidency that lies behind them.

The head of the OLC plays a crucial role in insuring that the President acts constitutionally, within our structure of separation of powers, and not like a monarch who can make decisions regardless of the views of the coordinate branches.  Obama’s choice of Dawn Johnsen to fill that role indicates that as president, he will respect his legislative and judicial partners in the governing of our country.  This is cause for celebration not only for constitutional law professors, but for all of us who believe in the rule of law.

Can President Obama Undo the Imperial Presidency?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on December 29th, 2008

Over the past eight years the Bush-Cheney regime has virtually shredded the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental rights and ideals that help to define American society. From warrantless wiretaps, the abuse of signing statements, torture, data mining, unlawful detention, sending the military to fight a war on false tmpphpzbsvp01.jpgpretenses, redistributing wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich, and aggregating enormous power to the executive branch, the Bush-Cheney team has created an imperial presidency the likes of which we’ve never experienced before. Not unlike their nemesis, Saddam Hussein, the monstrous dictator deposed in Iraq, the current administration conception of executive power in effect is best expressed in Hussein’s statement that “the law is anything I write on a piece of paper.” The only difference is that Bush-Cheney, for the most part, have declined the use of paper. Consider the following from an article in the Nation Magazine: “President-elect Obama’s first appointments to the Justice, State and Defense Departments mark no radical change. Rather, they return to a centrist consensus familiar from the Clinton years. But pragmatic incrementalism and studied bipartisanship will do little to undo the centerpiece of the Bush/Cheney era’s legacy. At its heart, that regime was intent on forcing the Constitution into a new mold of executive dominance. . . .  Obama enters the White House in a slipstream of forces that will hinder attempts to abandon this constitutional vision. He may be a careful constitutional scholar, but we can’t rely on Obama alone to reorient the constitutional order. It will be up to progressives to insist on fundamental repudiation of the Bush/Cheney era. . . .  At first blush, Obama’s victory is cause for optimism. As a senator he roundly rejected the signature Bush/Cheney national security policies: torture, “extraordinary rendition,” Guantánamo and–until July–warrantless surveillance. Obama appointees like Eric Holder as attorney general speak unequivocally against these violations of constitutional and human rights (to be sure, in Holder’s case it was after early equivocation).  . . . The most significant Bush/Cheney innovation was planted at the taproot of our Constitution. It was the insistence that the president can exercise what Cheney in 1987 called “monarchical notions of prerogative.” That he can, in other words, override validly enacted statutes and treaties simply by invoking national security. This monarchical claim underwrote not only the expansion of torture, extraordinary rendition and warrantless surveillance but also the stonewalling of Congressional and judicial inquiries in the name of  ‘executive privilege” and ‘state secrets.'” To read further click here. When one adds the illegal invasion of Iraq, and the failed war in Afghanistan, this presidency must go down as the most destructive presidency in the history of the nation. Yet, Bush still endorses his own Iraqi policy even though he now admits to some mistakes.

Can the Obama administration resist using the loaded gun bequeathed to him by the Bush-Cheney administration. Failure to eliminate the detritus of evil may be regarded as evil itself and, in any event, it’s risky business. Will Obama resist the inclination to focus only on the systemic problems in the financial and economic institutions enormous problems to be sure? Or institute some sort of commission to investigate the war crimes committed by the adtmpphphlazwi1.jpgministration over the past eight years. These choices are not mutually exclusive. It’s understandable, however, why Obama might want to forget about the Bush-Cheney imperial state as soon as possible. It might sap the energy from focusing on the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.  But though it is understandable, it’s not prudent. That’s why truth and reconciliation commissions are so critical when moral disasters end. (See, for example, Erin Daly, et al.’s Reconciliation in Divided Societies: Finding Common Ground (2006).) The Obama administration might wish to sweep the Bush-Cheney detritus under the rug of history in order to concentrate on the enormous problems facing this nation. That’s understandable, but nevertheless unwise.  Some public investigation concerning whether Bush-Cheney violated American law or international law concerning human rights is a moral imperative.  Observers believe that the Obama administration will not initiate such an investigation, but some public, non-governmental is still possible. Evil unaddressed is evil unbound.

The Lincoln Bible

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on December 25th, 2008

I learned yesterday that president-elect Barack Obama has chosen to take the oath of office using the smallerthumbnail1.jpgsame Bible as Abraham Lincoln did when he was first sworn in as our 16th president.  The choice is laden with symbolism.  Obama, the first Black president, has chosen to use the same Bible as the Great Emancipator, the only other Senator from Illinois to be elected president.   The choice also is not surprising.  Obama has been open about his admiration for Lincoln.  Indeed, he began his historic campaign for the presidency in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln’s adult home town, with a speech invoking Lincoln’s name.   The use of the Lincoln Bible is a fitting end to that campaign.

What is surprising is that no other president  since Lincoln has made the same choice that Obama has made.  Given that Lincoln is such a revered figure in our nation’s history, I would have thought that other presidents would have made the same choice as Obama to invoke Lincoln’s legacy.  Nevertheless, despite much rhetoric from past president-elects about the man who arguably ranks as the greatest American president, no president-elect has chosen, until now, to place his hand where Lincoln did while swearing to uphold our constitution.

Why will Barack Obama be the first American president to use the Lincoln Bible since 1861?  The reason has roots in our country’s tortured history dealing with the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era.  For much of the Twentieth Century, the predominate view of Reconstruction was what I call the “Gone with the Wind” version of history (also known as the Dunning school of history after historian William Dunning) – in which northern carpetbaggers intruded upon the end of the gentile southern aristocracy.  Even in the northern and decidedly pro-Union state of Minnesota, when my parents were in grade school, they learned that the Civil War was the “war between the states,” a name that implies two equally legitimate sides to the conflict and obscures the true history of the war – that is, that rogue states attempted to break away from their mother country in order to preserve the barbaric institution of slavery.  Therefore, it is not surprising that no leader of our nation wished to remind our country of that conflict and its conflict-ridden aftermath.

Of course, the “Gone with the Wind” story of the Civil War and Reconstruction also served to implicitly condone thlincoln.jpge Jim Crow South – a place where Blacks were still treated as second class citizens, systematically denied the right to vote, and terrorized with racialized violence into the late 1960s, when historiography and current events  began to shift in similar, almost parallel, directions. Thus, even as the Civil Rights movement emerged to overcome state-sponsored segregation and win the right to the franchise for Blacks, a new group of historians such as Les Benedict and Eric Foner began to reconsider the Reconstruction era and to describe its true nature – a “new birth of freedom” when the United States Congress attempted not only to free the slaves, but to create rights that would place them upon the same plane of citizenship “as white citizens.”  As more Americans came to understand the need for national civil rights legislation, the work of those scholars served to enhance the legitimacy of such action by linking it to the unfulfilled promises of Reconstruction.

It has often been noted that if it were not for the 1960s Civil Rights era and leaders such as Martin Luther King, Barack Obama would never have stood a chance of being elected president.  Obama’s choice of the Lincoln Bible reflects his awareness that the Civil Rights movement did not begin in the 1950s, but in the 19th century, with the abolitionist movement, the Reconstruction Congress, and of course, President Abraham Lincoln.  By choosing to place his hand where Lincoln did, Obama is paying tribute not only to one of our greatest presidents, but contributing to the restoration of Reconstruction to its rightful place in our nation’s history.

Bush’s Poisonous Legacy

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on December 16th, 2008

George W. Bush will soon be leaving the White House. Unfortunately, his pernicious legacy will plague us for decades. His gratuitous and catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq, his failure in Afghanistan, his failure to prevent the ruination of the American economy, and his corruption in awarding contracts in Iraq, the failure of the reconstruction of Iraq, and most recently his imposing “midnight” regulations, some of which the new president will have difficulty in overruling. Although there’s nothing particularly funny about the Bush administrations perfidy, watch the video below to see a portrayal of a morally impoverished individual who never should have been in a political leadership position, let alone president of the United States.

Concentrating on Mr. Bush might miss an important point. It’s those Americans who voted for him, especially those who voted for him in 2004 after they knew of how immoral, incompetent, and dangerous he is, that deserve special condemnation. What more do people need to know after learning that all the reasons the Bush administration gave for invading and occupying Iraq were a charade in order for them to condemn him and support anyone else running for president or refrain from voting entirely? What more did these people need to know before condemning a president whose legacy will certainly be that he is clearly the worst president in American history. So farewell Mr. President and shame on you and those Americans who made your presidency possible.

Constitutional Deficiencies

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on November 25th, 2008

Contrary to conventional wisdom our founding document suffers from a myriad of serious, even deadly deficiencies. One such deficiency is clearly the inability to control or even influence a rogue administration intent on imposing its own ideological dogma oconflagn on a nation even when sustained popular opinion and congressional elections indicate that the electorate opposes such an ideology. These are precisely the circumstances of constitutional dictatorship that George W. Bush exploited so deftly.  A dictatorship because he refused to change course even though the American people clearly desired an alternative direction, one that would not bring the nation, internationally and domestically, close to ruin. Constitutional  and constitutional because even though he willfully ignored the people’s voice and constitutional authority,  the Constitution provided no practicable means to curtail his nefarious behavior. Thus far, Mr. Bush has escaped accountability, though fortunately his Party was punished for continuing to support what has become the nation’s most deadly internal enemy.

My Friend, Barack Obama

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on November 6th, 2008

I’m feeling pretty emotional about our president-elect. One reason is obvious –Barack Obama is going to be the first Black president of the United States. This is a truly momentous event to me, a former legal services lawyer in a virtually all-Black neighborhood, and a scholar of the civil rights movement and the Reconstruction eras. Like millions of people all over this country, I also am thinking of the loved ones that I have lost who would have given anything to see this day — my grandparents, who devoted their lives to the cause of civil rights and inter-religious understanding; my Uncle Carl, also a civil rights activist, who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. to fight for voting rights in Selma, Alabama; and most of all, my dear friend Denise Morgan, a brilliant Black woman law professor who specialized in education rights litigation, whose life was cut tragically short days after her 41st birthday. I can’t tell you how many times in the last few months that I have reached for the cell phone to call Denise and talk about the latest political developments. Denise would have been ecstatic about Obama’s success, and I am certain that she would have bestowed her highest compliment on him — if Obama had gone to law school with us, he would have been our friend.

Barack Obama is my friend – well not really, but I can’t shake the feeling that he easily could be my friend. There have been many close misses. Obama was at Columbia University for two years when I was also a college student there. He worked as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago in the years immediately preceding my time there as a legal services lawyer. He went to law school at the same time as I did, at a rival elite institution just a few hours up the road. There are also the coincidental commonalities. Like me, he met his spouse at work in Chicago, and his two daughters are the same age as my two daughters. Like me and my husband, Barack and Michelle are clearly devoted to each other, and to their children.

In sum, there are many parallels between my life and that of Barack Obama. But that’s not the point. Obama seems like a thoughtful, decent person with a good sense of humor, someone who would be fun to be around. I am certain that there are thousands, if not millions, of people in this country who feel the same way. Throughout this election, the pundits have emphasized Obama’s race, asking whether the American people were ready to elect someone so different from the norm. While it is undeniable that Obama is different from any president we’ve ever had, we the people of the United States of America have gotten to know him, and we’ve gotten to feel that we have a lot in common with him. As a young white Obama supporter here in Toledo told me when explaining why his grandmother, a lifelong Republican, was going to vote for Obama – “she likes him.” Well, Obama’s landslide victory yesterday showed that a lot of us agree with her.

John McCain and George Wallace

Written by Henry L. Chambers, Jr. on October 23rd, 2008

A few weeks ago, John Lewis compared the language used by the McCain-Palin ticket to the language used by George Wallace in suggesting that inappropriate and inflammatory language can lead to violent results.  Though Lewis never suggested that the substantive views of the McCain-Palin ticket were similar to George Wallace’s substantive views, John McCain angrily suggested that he had essentially been called a segregationist and called on Barack Obama to denounce Lewis’ statements.  Obama’s campaign agreed that McCain is not George Wallace, but noted that Lewis’ comments about the McCain-Palin ticket’s inflammatory rhetoric were well taken.  The irony is that Lewis’ comments were not only measured, but his reference to George Wallace was far closer to the mark than many recognize.

Lewis suggested that George Wallace’s rhetoric created an atmosphere that made the bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church somewhat unsurprising.  He could have added that Wallace’s rhetoric also made the beating Lewis received in Selma, Alabama at the Edmund Pettus Bridge unsurprising.  The straight line between Wallace’s rhetoric and the violence was not overblown.  Wallace was the governor of Alabama at the time both of the violent outbursts mentioned before occurred.  Indeed, in his inaugural address in 1963, Wallace famously declared, “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

In noting the inappropriateness of the rhetoric of the McCain-Palin rhetoric, John Lewis merely suggested that stating that one’s opponent has been “palling around with terrorists,” has “voted against the troops” and would “waive the white flag of surrender in Iraq” might provoke some to violent outburst.  We all hope that Lewis is wrong, but our history suggests that his statements were hardly improper or even inaccurate.

Interestingly, Lewis could have made a much more direct comparison between Wallace and McCain.  Maybe he did not because many – particularly Southerners of certain age – may already know where I am going.  In his early days, George Wallace was a maverick.  In 1958, when he ran against John Patterson for governor of Alabama, Wallace declined an endorsement from the KKK and lost after that garnered an endorsement by the NAACP.  In the wake of the election, he is reputed to have said that he had been “outniggered” by Patterson and that he would never be “outniggered” again.  For much of his career, he stuck by that sentiment, was a maverick no more and was elected Alabama governor a number of times.  However, he later recanted and was last elected based on what is known as the Wallace coalition, which included many Alabama blacks who wanted to and did forgive Wallace.

John McCain has claimed to be a maverick, somewhat like George Wallace.  He has decided that he will do what he believes he needs to do to get elected, somewhat like George Wallace.  However, arguably unlike Wallace, McCain he has yet to recant.  Maybe because he has yet to win this most important election.  It is possible that John Lewis really was calling on McCain to be a little less like George Wallace and to be a little more like George Wallace at the same time.  Apparently, McCain did not hear the call.

Lest anyone think me unfair, here are two final points to ponder. First, Wallace appeared to see nothing improper or unchristian in his call for segregation, ending his inaugural speech saying, “And my prayer is that the Father who reigns above us will bless all the people fo this great sovereign State and nation, both white and black.”  Apparently, McCain sees nothing improper or presumably unchristian in his campaign’s rhetoric.  Second, Wallace appealed to states’ rights in supporting his views in 1963.  McCain somewhat anachronistically cited federalism – to some a current incarnation of states’ rights – to support his views in his last debate with Barack Obama.   Without a doubt, John McCain is no George Wallace.  However, that could mean different things to different people.

The Wrong Side of History

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on October 16th, 2008

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Forest Hills cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts, the final resting place of abolitionistmpphpsz8hja1.jpgts William Lloyd Garrison and Lysander Spooner. Nestled among the gravestones is a touching Civil War memorial entitled “The Citizen Soldier.” It is a statue of a Union soldier looking sadly down at the graves of his fallen comrades. The monument, dedicated in 1867, contains a simple inscription: “Erected by the city of Roxbury in honor of her soldiers who died for their country in the rebellion of 1861-1865.” The directness and simplicity of the inscription on this memorial is striking. The war that had just ended is described not as “The Civil War” or “the war between the states” (a common designation for that war during much of the 20th century), but the “rebellion.” In 1867, the good citizens of Roxbury were not interested in sugar coating what had just happened – the southern states had rebelled against our country in order to save the institution of slavery, and the soldiers from Roxbury had helped to stop them.

The Union victory brought about the political conditions that enabled Congress to amend our Constitution to end slavery, further our rights to liberty and equality, and enact numerous civil rights measures to protect freed slaves. Since then, our country has had a rocky racial history. During the best of times, activists of all races have fought side by side to expand and protect our civil rights. The worst of times have been marked by racial intimidation, racial subordination, and racial violence. Scratch the surface, and it soon becomes apparent that our country has not yet recovered from our history of slavery and racial segregation.

John McCain began his campaign for the general election in Mississippi. There, McCain bragged about his family’s long tradition of military service, dating back to his great-great grandfather, William Alexander McCain. Anyone who does the math can figure out the symbolism pretty quickly – when William Alexander McCain served in the military, he wasn’t fighting on our side. He fought for the Mississippi cavalry, against the United States army, as a rebel in the Civil War. William Alexander McCain owned a plantation and 50 slaves.

On the campaign trail, his great-great grandson, John, expressed “surprise” when he learned that his ancestor had owned slaves. It’s pretty unbelievable that McCain didn’t know about his family’s history of owning slaves. Moreover, the mainstream media gave Senator McCain a pass on the fact that he was celebrating an ancestor who was a traitor who fought against his country, while invoking “Country First” as the central theme of his presidential campaign, as if his great-great-grandfather had fought with the valiant sons of Roxbury, instead of against them.

Of course, it is not John McCain’s fault that his great-grandfather was on the wrong side of history. What concerns me is what John McCain is doing now. At their political rallies, McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, are drawing on the worst vestiges of our country’s racially-checkered past. Relying on guilt by association and feigned mispronunciations of his given name, they accuse Obama of being friends with terrorists. They have found that it is far too easy to incite hatred against Barack Obama, the man likely to become the first African American president, and they have largely stood mute, basking in the heat generated by this hatred. Such conduct is both shameful and dangerous. Reasonable people can disagree over whether McCain or Obama is the best candidate for president. But there are times when we all have to choose between what is clearly right, and what is clearly wrong. Unfortunately, like his ancestors before him who fought to perpetuate the obvious evil of slavery, the McCain family is again on the wrong side of history.

The Union won the Civil War, and Americans in the Twenty-First Century seem ready to elect Obama, finally completing that victory. Indeed, since Palin and McCain have stepped up their ugly attacks, their numbers have gone down in the polls. Let’s hope that McCain gets this message and tries some other campaign tactic before the only legacy of his campaign is a long series of ugly videos littering the internet.

From Fear comes Opportunity

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on October 2nd, 2008

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Given recent economic developments, I feel that I now truly understand these words, uttered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in January 1933.  Roosevelt spoke as our country was in the depths of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis ever in the history of our country.  Today, fear is causing our stock markets to decline, and worse, our banks to be reluctant in loaning money to businesses and to each other, threatening to dry up the credit markets.  If that happens, the current economic crisis will rival that of the Depression – ordinary people will be unable to buy cars and houses, small businesses will be unable to take out loans to cover their expenses, and massive job losses could result.

I live in Toledo, a town where people well remember the Great Depression.  In Depression-era Toledo, the unemployment rate surged above 50%.  Ordinary families burned their furniture to keep warm and gathered apples from the ground to feed their children.  This deprivation left its mark on Toledoans, and it now contributes to the fear that we feel.

The Great Depression left other lasting and more positive marks on Toledo as well.  Toledo is the site of a memorial to the heroism of the Auto-Lite factory workers who went on strike to establish what they saw as a fundamental human right to join a union.   Though violent and bloody, that strike was a catalyst that helped inspire Congress to enact the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the right of workers’ to join a union.  More concretely, several of Toledo’s best-loved institutions came into being in their modern configurations during the Depression — the Toledo Zoo, the downtown library and post offices, and even the University of Toledo’s football stadium.  All of these local monuments were built by unemployed workers participating in the New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs, which provided jobs building and improving our nation’s infrastructure for millions of Americans.

These New Deal Era monuments ought to remind us that our current time of fear is also a time of opportunity.   The New Deal not only helped our country escape the Depression, but it also was a time of economic development and expansion of fundamental human rights.  Along with the right to join a union, Roosevelt and his allies created the Social Security system — so that people who had worked all of their lives would not suffer the indignity of poverty when they became unable to work any longer — and an economic safety net that included unemployment insurance and Aid to Families with Dependent Children.  New Deal era economic regulations limited corporate greed, restructured the American financial system, and restored confidence in the economy.

The Depression and the New Deal were followed by three decades of economic prosperity in our country.  Roosevelt’s anthem, “Happy Days are Here Again,” was played at thousands of political functions – thinking about FDR, the benevolent leader who had charted a course out of economic ruin — made people feel happy and secure.

For the past three decades, however, FDR’s “chicken in every pot” philosophy has been replaced by an ethic of selfishness couched in a false libertarianism.  In the last 25 years, Congress has busied itself with repealing many of the New Deal Era regulations that created a stable and prosperous financial industry, virtually eliminated welfare, and, at the urging of President Bush, even considered privatizing Social Security (imagine how everyone would feel now if he had succeeded and their guarantee of subsistence benefits had been replaced by a stake in the tanking stock market!)  Now the chickens of selfishness have come home to roost, and the American taxpayers are going to pay the price for the “me first,” anti-regulation years.

As this reckoning inexorably unfolds, this should not be merely a time for fear and anger – we should recognize it as a time of opportunity, and a time to re-think the economic policies of the last 25 years.  Along with new regulations to protect consumers against corporate greed, and investment in our crumbling infrastructure and new energy technologies, Congress should ask the question that Roosevelt answered so well: For whom do we have an economy?

For too long, we have measured the success of our economy by the stock market and the income of the very rich when what really matters is whether ordinary people can find jobs that earn a living wage, whether people can afford to buy a home and save for their future and the future of our children.  Since the mid 1970s, the wages of ordinary Americans have stagnated even as the very rich have gotten richer.

As during the New Deal, our economic recovery today depends on establishing new economic rights, including strengthening the right to organize and creating a right to affordable and accessible health care, and a decent wage.  This creates an opportunity for our next president – rebuild our infrastructure, invest in energy independence, and above all, rebuild the economic rights of the working people of America.

Sarah Palin and the Deafening of Evangelicals

Written by Henry L. Chambers, Jr. on September 23rd, 2008

In his single act of choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain quieted the evangelical wing of the Republican Party. Palin has now deafened them. As a consequence, McCain can be himself without worrying that he will offend the religious right by being insufficiently religious. That, rather than any energy expertise or supposed foreign policy chops, may be Palin’s biggest contribution.

McCain’s speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination to be president of the United States suggests just how little he needs to do to keep the evangelical wing of the Republican Party happy in the wake of choosing Palin. The day after Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech electrified the delegates in St. Paul, John McCain spoke. In his speech, he reminded the assemblage of his five-plus years of POW captivity. He did so to explain his love of and devotion to the United States. During the speech, he explained that when faced death, he turned to his country to sustain him. Under normal circumstances, many evangelicals might have panned McCain as a secularist, suggesting that when a man of faith faces death he puts his trust in God or Jesus Christ. Luckily for McCain, the Republican evangelicals could see his lips moving but could not hear him. They could not hear him because Sarah Palin’s speech from the night before was still ringing in their ears.