Not very. In fact, he used it to gain an advantage over the other Republican candidate, suggesting that that other candidate is racially insensitive. There may be no more serious or damaging accusation available to wield against a white southerner in today’s political climate.
In fact, it was just a few short weeks back that Herman Cain, when presented with the opportunity to demonstrate some semblance of personal integrity by withholding judgment against a fellow conservative, chose instead to use a flagrantly biased piece of shoddy journalism as an opportunity to gain an advantage over Rick Perry. For all the endless complaints about dirty tricks and “another high tech lynching” from Cain’s defenders, no one can make the case that Cain is somehow above exploiting similar attacks on his conservative Republican rivals when the opportunity presents itself.
Again, let’s re-examine what he had to say to Christiane Amanpour when asked to comment on the painted-over word on a rock located on a piece of property on which Rick Perry’s family leased rights for a hunting camp in west Texas:
AMANPOUR: … And it’s been — it’s been painted over. But the report raises questions about whether this rock, this stone, with that word on it, was still on display even quite recently in the last several years. What is your reaction to that?
CAIN: My reaction is that is very insensitive…. And since Governor Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place. It’s just basically a case of insensitivity.
AMANPOUR: It was painted over.
CAIN: Yes. It was painted over. But how long ago was it painted over? So I’m still saying that it is a sign of insensitivity.
As we now know, that wasn’t a case of insensitivity at all. That rock story was a straight up media hit piece, only even more thinly sourced than Politico’s hit on Cain.
There’s a thread running through all of Cain’s gaffes and how he handles negative stories: He’s just wingin’ it. No plans, no serious effort at counter attack, no evident thoughtfulness in how to handle situations responsibly as they arise.
So far wingin’ it is helping Cain in the primaries as he enjoys an understandable “circle the wagons” effect, but it will get him and possibly the GOP destroyed if he is the nominee. As a commenter noted in another post, Obama’s campaign and the DNC are not raising a vast war chest and deploying an army of volunteers just for fun or to explain his policies better — that’s all being set up so Obama can scorch the earth and nuke the GOP nominee in what will be the nastiest campaign we’ve ever seen. Hopefully it’s not too much to ask that whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be, they take enough care to see that they are able to defend themselves and other Republicans from the attacks that everyone knows are being built up right now.