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.
So far, despite the pretense of the establishment press, that has not happened. As Ann Coulter wrote in her Wednesday column:
Only two women (accusing Cain of sexual harassment) were willing to give their names.
(Sharon Bielak) produced no evidence.
The second one, Karen Kraushaar, made unspecified allegations of a “hostile environment” when she was working for Cain, but refuses to say what those allegations were. This despite the fact that the National Restaurant Association waived her confidentiality agreement, thus allowing her to go public.
… Ginger White claims she had a 13-year affair with Cain — and all she has are two books with inscriptions that could have been written to an auto mechanic who waited in line at a Cain book signing. Even her business partner during the alleged affair says White never mentioned Cain’s name.
… But this is how liberals dirty you up when they’ve got nothing: They launch a series of false accusations, knowing that Americans with busy lives won’t follow each story to the end and notice that they were all blind alleys.
Despite the past month’s obvious stress, Cain’s teleprompter-free, apparently mostly off-the-cuff public speaking performance and sense of his audience appear not to have suffered one iota since his informal appearance and after-dinner speech at Ohio’s grassroots “We the People” convention in July. In his Wednesday speech, he made but one reference to the controversies: “I have been attacked not because I have bad ideas” – read: my ideas are good — “they’re attacking my character, my reputation and my name in order to try to bring me down. I don’t believe that America is going to let that happen.”
Well, that remains to be seen, and it would really be important to find out. As I wrote at my home blog three weeks ago:
I’m only going on instincts here and no special knowledge, but those instincts are telling me that if Cain really is telling the truth, his decision concerning whether or not to tough it out until he either wins or loses the nomination — regardless of the outcome — may be one of the most important any presidential candidate will ever make.
I would be the last person to presume to tell Herman Cain’s unfairly suffering wife and family what to say or do. I would only suggest that God is not in the habit of giving people more than they can handle, and that it would be really nice for the rest of us to see the Herminator take his candidacy to its rightful conclusion, in the process hopefully consigning the politics of personal destruction based on flat-out falsehoods to the dustbin of history.