The poet laureate of my generation, Mike Tyson, once famously said “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” This breathtakingly accurate axiom is on full display as we watch Herman Cain’s campaign flail after being punched in the face. So far, Mr. Cain is demonstrating that he cannot take a punch. Therefore, he should not be our nominee for President.
At the outset, I confess to being on the Cain Train. There was much I liked about 9-9-9 and found him to be a reasonably intelligent problem solver who would surround himself with really good people who were knowledgable in their respective field, just as he did when he was in the business community. After the current sexual harassment debacle, I can no longer hold on to such an assumption.
I want to make it clear that my gut instinct is that he probably said some inappropriate things to these females. My gut instinct also leads me to believe that the settlements were made primarily to save litigation costs. When these events allegedly happened, the National Restaurant Association was a top 25 lobbying group, worth hundreds of millions. A credible sexual harassment suit brought against the CEO of the NRA, in the wake of the Clinton scandals, would have been worth millions and there is no way that an ambulance chasing trial lawyer would have passed up his 1/3 of such a verdict in exchange for $35-$50k. Thus, my instinct is that there isn’t much there there. In the ensuing decade of wardrobe malfunctions, South Park, Family Guy and Two and a Half Men, our society at large would likely not consider bawdy jokes in the work place a capital offense, especially if there was evidence that Cain does not engage in that behavior now.
Also, it does bother me that this appears to have come from one of his rivals for the Republican nomination. We are supposed to be the party of ideas. These kinds of dirty tricks are the province of the Clintons, Emanuels, Carvilles of the world and we, quite frankly, are better than that. If either Romney or Perry were behind this, I think it would speak to their character, or lack there of and I would have a hard time manning the phones or pounding the pavement for such a candidate.
With all of that said, Cain and his campaign should have been prepared for this. Cain knew that this might come up in 2004 when he ran for the Senate, what’s to make him think this wouldn’t have come up when running for PRESIDENT!!! He has had at least 8 years to think of a story to tell when, not if, this issue ever came up. His failure to anticipate this attack leads me to wonder how he would be able to anticipate other political attacks against him, or anyone he would nominate (VP, Cabinet Secretary, Supreme Court Justice) were he to be the nominee/President. Politics is a rough and tumble game. For him not to see this Mack truck coming down the proverbial pike is naive at best, unintelligent and disengenuous at worst. He has demonstrated disasterous political instincts, which is vital to governing this country.
Further, the performance of his staff in the wake of this calls into question his ability to hire good operators. Mark Block and the rest of Cain’s campaign team have been utterly embarrasing in their performance. If Cain told his Senate campaign staff about this, it is likely that he told his PRESIDENTIAL staff about this. Their inability to see this coming, and to appropriately prepare for such, shows that they are incompetent at best. If this is the level of competence with which Cain surrounds himself when running for President, I have no confidence, whatsoever, that he would hire people who were less disasterous when governing as President.
I want to reiterate that I like Herman Cain. I think he is a good person, with a great story to tell about the success one can achieve in America with hard work and a good attitude. I believe that he has a lot to contribute to the cause. However, given his awful response to this “scandal,” as trumped up as it probably is, betrays a frightening lack of political instincts and ability. This lack of ability and instincts are disqualifiers for the nomination of the Republican Party for President and the Office of the President of the United States.
Sad to say, but the Cain Train has derailed. Time to look for alternate transportation.