Roger L. Simon

The Mystery of Herman Cain

Here’s a question it doesn’t take a Zen Master to figure out: If Herman Cain was willing to hide a thirteen-year relationship, “friendship,” call it what you will, to a woman (to whom he made “repeated” financial payments!) from his own wife, as he has now admitted, should he be trusted to be candid with the American public?

Well, duh. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is not one of the hoariest of legal principles for nothing. Do you want to see a liar — or, more politely, a prevaricator — as president of the United States? We’ve had enough of that already.

And, no, I don’t know whether the allegations of sexual harassment are true, nor do I even know if Cain actually had an affair with Ginger White, although, if he didn’t, that would put him among the roughly .003% of males who gave money to another woman for years without telling their wives, indeed not disclosing the “friendship” to them at all, and didn’t.

One of the more disturbing sidelights of Cain’s devastating interview with the Manchester Union Leader was his refusal to tell the exact amount he paid to White, “on advice of counsel.” Why was that, if he is so innocent? Beats me, but it could have something to do with possible divorce proceedings. Wouldn’t his wife be entitled to a quid pro quo for the money given White that she was never informed about? Or maybe the number was just so big it would look really strange. Needless to say there are other possibilities, few of them positive for Cain, however.

These revelations are of course very sad and our hearts should all go out to Gloria Cain. But the real mystery of Herman Cain is why he ran for president in the first place.

Forget the putative affair with White and what that says, or doesn’t, of his “family values.” (At the very least his vision of how to treat a spouse is reprehensible.) When someone running for president of the United States has been involved in sexual harassment cases that have had legal settlements, whether fair or not, there is no way that will not come out.

Cain tried to blame the Perry campaign, David Axelrod or whatever unnamed person or persons he could think of, Democratic and Republican, but sexual harassment charges are serious business, especially when they are on the books. And these were on the books. Cain showed no judgement at all not getting out in front of these charges at the very outset of his campaign. He acted like someone who was either clueless or guilty. Either one disqualifies him as president of the United States.

So why did he run? I certainly don’t know, but it’s probable he thought of it as a quasi-publicity stunt in the beginning. Then his charisma, coupled with his attractive outsider quality, took over — I suckered for it heavily, as did many of us — and, miracle of miracles, he was the frontrunner.

But then the roof fell in. The allegations surfaced. His numerous foreign policy gaffes became more obvious. He tried to soldier on but it seems the inevitable is about to happen and he will drop out.

For Republicans, it is a good thing this occurred now. His charisma might have carried him to the nomination, virtually guaranteeing an explosion of October surprises and the reelection of Barack Obama.

My guess is Herman Cain has an out-sized sense of entitlement, but that is no more than armchair psychoanalysis. The real problem is us. Why do we flock to politicians (amateur or otherwise) so quickly when we know so little about them? The personality profile of the person who goes into politics in the first place is not exactly that of normal people. It fairly screams narcissism.

When it comes to politicians, caveat emptor. They are almost all very flawed human beings. The incumbent president is a good example of that. Trust (a little), but verify (a lot).