The first and only time I met Herman Cain was in Austin, Texas, at my first RedState Gathering. The time was October, 2010. Frankly, I had not really heard of the guy until the conference. But when he spoke, I was (politically speaking) "swept off my feet." So much so that I penned a RedState blog entitled "I Just Met the Next President of the United States," which quickly soared to the top of the Recommended Diaries on Page One of RedState.
From that point forward, I was in the engine room of the Cain Train. I began to tell all my friends and colleagues about the little known former Godfather's Pizza CEO who had also served as Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Most of them had never heard of him and gave me weird looks when I told them he would be the next President.
For the first time in my life, I made the maximum allowable contribution to a political candidate. I reached the maximum level when I made a major contribution following his first "gaffe" because I believed in his bold ideas and wanted to encourage him in a time of discouragement.
I attended this year's RedState Gathering, hoping he would be there. Though Gov. Rick Perry is my governer, I kept Herman as my first choice despite Perry's outstanding announcement and early campaign successes.
Then the controversies began. 9-9-9. My first thought was "a national sales tax without eliminating the personal income tax" was a problem. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense -- and I was soon one of its staunchest defenders. It was a "big, bold idea" yet also a compromise that could actually bring both sides together and still totally revamp the tax structure in a positive way.
His early debate performances were encouraging and he slowly started moving to the "center" of the debate stage, as his poll numbers rose. With the added media attention, Herman started talking too much. Whether it was abortion ambiguity or foreign policy ignorance, he should have just kept to a script or said, "I'm not ready to discuss this topic yet." But he seemed to have an innate desire to please every reporter by giving a direct answer, even if it hadn't been well-thought-out. You could always tell he wasn't prepared for a specific question when he would repeat the question as the first part of his answer.
The cigarette smoking ad was ingenious. Those who were offended were grossly overreacting, in my opinion. Same with the alligator, moat-filled, electric fence critics. Come on...get a life (or at least a sense of humor).
The establishment poo-poo'd him and his campaign, which made me an even more ardent supporter. The non-traditional strategies and tactics were initially welcome, but in retrospect, were also the beginning of the end for him. It's very tough for me to admit it, but the establishment critics were correct. Once Cain's poll number shot up -- along with the donations -- he should have hired real professionals and quickly transitioned into a more traditional campaign. He should have spent more time in Iowa and South Carolina. If he would have won both states, he would have won the nomination.
When the first moral issues came to the fore, I suspected a "rat." I never thought it was a Perry campaign dirty trick but believed at one point it could be emanating from the Romney gang. I still want to take Herman at his word and wonder if in months/years to come we'll eventually learn it was a bent Axelrod. As I was watching Herman speak today, I couldn't help but notice the covered backdrop. The thought occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, the campaign was about to throw us all a curve by having all three "accusers" come out from behind the backdrop in a jolting, "man, did we fool all of you!" moment. What a brilliant move that would have been: to clear Herman's name while simultaneously shoving it right back into the face of a scandal-hungry, uber-biased, incompetent press. It would have changed the landscape of political campaigns for generations.
But, alas, this fleeting plot must wait for a creative political novel or movie thriller.
Herman, you inspired me and gave me hope for bold solutions toward a more free America. Yet you have also now built a border wall of cynicism that I will not easily scale. I placed trust in you. I trusted your ability to build a leadership team as President to implement your solutions and supplement your shortcomings. But your total lack of judgment in selecting incompetent campaign leaders has proven your undoing.
If some or all of these moral failing accusations are true, you lacked judgment to even seriously campaign for President. If they are not true, you and your team have fumbled away the Super Bowl. In either case, I feel betrayed. You may have single-handedly set back for years the ability of conservatives to make serious roads in the black community.
You have taught me a valuable lesson: like those who were swept away by Barack Obama's homelitical talents, I, too, am equally gullible to a golden tongue.
Herman, I thank you. I suspect I will eventually forgive you. But not today.