by Brendan Monaghan
The hunters appear to have found their witch. After nearly a week of scandal more fit for TMZ than CNN, the skeletal outline of a decades-old sexual harassment suit against Republican frontrunner Herman Cain have become fairly well known. The staccato of information has kept the gossip going at a fever pitch. The trouble is, as more details become available and information changes, so too does Cain’s story. From denying everything on Sunday to blaming everyone but himself on Wednesday, the suit and settlement threaten to derail the Cain Train. That is, not because of the truth or falsehood of the allegations themselves, but because his mishandling of them from the start has turned an easily-explainable situation into a full-blown catastrophe. Faced with incredible accusations, Herman Cain appears to have lost credibility.
From what we know so far, the Cain campaign was given ten days’ notice by Politico that the story was going to break. Although hindsight is 20/20, this still would seem to have given the campaign ample time to prepare for Sunday’s story which nonetheless seemed to catch them completely off guard. Those with even a basic knowledge of public relations would have also leapt at the chance to beat Politico to the punch and release all the information they knew (and could state in the confines of a confidentiality agreement) on their own terms. Instead, Cain’s first instinct was to deny everything- which now looks an awful lot like what Winston Churchill called a “terminological inexactitude”- and his second was to play the race card- which even former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called “not good for the country.”
While it might be fun to dust off the old Clarence Thomas playbook and call Politico’s story a “high-tech lynching,” all the while playing back the blatantly racist slurs and invective spat at Mr. Cain by leftists in the media, it doesn’t make his predicament any better. Pointing out all the instances of affairs and harassment by our favorite liberal Democrat politicians and candidates that were hidden by left-friendly news outlets won’t make these go away either. The Cain crisis is entirely of his own making. The story should have been over and done within a day- two if Sunday is spent on “I don’t know,” while digging up research. Instead, the campaigner made rookie mistakes while not actually being a rookie campaigner (Cain ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in Georgia).
The scandal took a turn for the completely ridiculous on Wednesday and a full-scale whodunit played out in Cain’s metaphorical Accusing Parlor. Whispers from talk radio and blogs pointed a not-so-subtle finger at their favorite punching bag in this campaign, the Evil Reptilian Kitten-Eater from Another Planet (R-MA). To answer the question, “who planted the leak with Politico?” Cain’s apparent answer was “everybody!” At different points in the day, Cain blamed Governors Romney and Perry, then former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, then returned to a former staffer from his aforementioned 2004 Senate Primary bid who conveniently happened to work for Romney in 2008 and joined Perry’s employ seven days before the story broke. Clearly, it must have been this staffer who planted the story at Perry’s behest . . . until you recall that Politico had the story for ten days, the defendant joined Team Perry seven days prior, and time does not travel backwards.
Herman Cain’s most pressing question since he unexpectedly became the conservatives’ most credible Anti-Romney candidate was never so much “can he win?” but “can he govern?” Could a man who had never before held elected office somehow figure out the buttons, dials, and pedals of the presidency and the federal government as a whole- particularly when we see the results of Cain’s same shortcomings playing out in front of us with the White House’s current occupant? That he completely failed his first major campaign test should erase all doubts as to what the answer to that pressing question should be. If candidate Cain can’t handle some stupid scandal, how could he be expected to manage a real-world crisis? His many differing and sometimes incoherent attempts at explanation display dangerous inexperience and demonstrate that Herman Cain is manifestly unqualified to be President of the United States.
Brendan is a graduate student at Portland State University, where he hosts the KPSU “Right Jab” radio program, and a regular contributor at Oregon Catalyst. Brendan is studying political science, and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2007, with a degree in political science.