Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for former President Ronald Reagan, says Republicans should seriously examine the accusations of sexual harassment against presidential candidate Herman Cain rather than shouting them down. Less cloistered thinking by the GOP will be necessary to beat President Barack Obama, she writes in The Wall Street Journal
She offers a nuanced view of the businessman. On the plus side, “Cain has guts,” Noonan writes. “He's a black man of his generation who yet holds and defends conservative views. On the economic crisis, he thought big: don't tinker with the system, tear it down — replace the tax structure with something coherent, reliable. He forced the other contenders to think big.”
But then there’s the downside, she says. “His views on foreign policy are not views but declarations of disinterest. He doesn't know China is a nuclear power, he'll let the generals tell him what to do about Afghanistan. All the world's Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan. This is funny until it's not.”
And finally, there are the sexual harassment allegations. “Cain followed the original accusations with a nervous shifting of stories — suddenly remembering details, not recalling others, contradicting himself, blame shifting — it's the Democratic machine, it's the Perry campaign, it's race, the woman is unstable.”
Noonan was disappointed that during the candidates debate Wednesday, a question to Cain about the scandal was shouted down.
“Maybe he's telling the truth,” she writes. “Maybe he's not. But again, this isn't a small thing. What the Republicans in the audience were seeing was a sympathetic guy struggling with grave charges that may or may not be true.”
But others are viewing something entirely different, Noon says. “What everyone else is seeing — what those who do not live in Republo-world are seeing — is a guy who, faced with the charges, nervously dodged, deflected and denied. What they are seeing is four women, not one or two.”
So the charges should be examined thoroughly, Noonan says. “What they don't merit is raucous boos, and an insular spirit of "You're either with us or against us."
It’s easy for Republicans to look inward now, she says. “It's tempting, when you're surrounded by like-minded people, to cheer your guys no matter what.”
But that wouldn’t be wise. “The voting begins in 7½ weeks. We're picking a president now, right now, every day as we make our decisions. Republicans should sober up,” Noonan writes.
Instead of worrying about what fellow Republicans think, they should be worrying about what an independent across the street might think. “He's catching the Cain story on TV and thinking: ‘This guy may have a problem. I want more evidence, but if it's true, then man, we don't need to go there again,’" she says.
“The GOP better start doing a better job of considering how he sees things. He doesn't live in Republo-world, but he's right across the street, and he votes. He's going to pick the next president.”
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