Anyone watching Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s Wednesday morning address in the Cincinnati suburb of West Chester would have come away believing that the last thing on his mind is dropping out of the 2012 race.
Alas, such is not the case. In both the post-speech press scrum (second video at link) and a two-segment interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto Wednesday afternoon, Cain made it very clear that a “reassessment” is indeed in progress, and that it will take at least several days to complete it.
Why so long? Well, whoever is behind what Cain insists is a concerted smear campaign will be happy to know that he may decide to abandon his presidential run not because of the strain he is enduring as a result of a series of sexual harassment charges followed by an “out of the blue” (Cain’s words) claim by a woman of a 13-year extramarital affair, but because he senses that it is becoming a burden his wife and family either cannot bear or should not be required to bear. As Cain intimated to Cavuto, that’s not something you can figure out while on the road; it will require some face-to-face presence and frank discussions at home.
We’ve become so jaded to politicians leaning on “time with family” as a clearly bogus justification for deciding not to run for election or reelection that it would be easy to dismiss Cain’s “reassessment” as an attention-getting ploy. I doubt it. Let’s step back to Cain’s decision to enter the race early this year.
You’ll be 66 years old this month. You’re financially worry-free. You’ve got a fabulous wife of forty-plus years, a wonderful family and extended family, and grandkids, nieces, and nephews to dote on. You virtually cheated death by beating Stage IV colon cancer in 2006. Since then, you’ve become a Tea Party favorite and a successful local talk show host. As Cain said on Wednesday, “I was on my way to cruise control before the country got messed up.”
But the country is seriously messed up, and getting worse: “[Ronald Reagan's] shining city on a hill has slid down the side of the hill.” You don’t see anyone out there on whom you can rely to fix things. Instead, you see a two-party establishment whose priorities “are to get reelected and to surround themselves with special rules.”
So you start considering the initially implausible idea of running for president. If you believe the “experts” out there — the ones whose elitist parents thought Reagan’s quest to win the White House was quixotic — it’s an impossible dream. Of course, as a religious family man, you consult, you pray, and you seek out trusted friends’ and associates’ opinions. After due deliberation, you go all in, knowing full well that if you become competitive (and of course you plan for that to happen, or you wouldn’t waste your time), you will as a black conservative be on the receiving end of attacks far worse than anything even Clarence Thomas suffered.
Now I’m supposed to believe that Herman Cain, a guy who has “rocket scientist” on his resume, was a wildly successful businessman, and has analytical skills which put the vast majority of politicians to shame, recklessly decided to risk long-term family peace and run for president despite the near certainty that a past pattern of real sexual harassment and a genuine 13-year affair would come out in the process. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m not buying it, and before I will someone is going to have to present legitimate proof that the flurry of charges has any substance at all.