Cain’s Reaction to Scandal Shows He’s Not Ready for Prime Time

Tuesday, 01 Nov 2011 10:03 AM

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It’s been fascinating to watch both the Herman Cain camp and the Republican establishment react to the sexual harassment allegations brought to light about Herman Cain by Politico.

While it is still too soon to determine what exactly did happen years ago when Cain headed the National Restaurant Association (NRA), two things are clear —  Cain is still winging it (and not well), and the Republican establishment has been expertly conditioned by the left when it comes to kneejerk accusations of “racism.”

In politics, the reaction to a controversy is very often more enlightening and important than the details of the allegations themselves. I’m still perplexed by the insistence by some on the right that Democrats or liberals somehow initiated these charges against Cain.

Cain has plenty of opponents, and while they may not be conservative, right now they all have “Republican” after their name.

As Cain has risen in the polls, one person in particular benefits from this attack and that’s Mitt Romney. Perhaps many on the right do not want any GOP candidate smeared with, er, unleashing a smear? Whatever the reasoning, it’s Cain’s GOP opposition that has everything to gain from this new storm.

Combined with preferred but likely false declaration of liberal responsibility for the attack, is the even stranger assertion that racism is fueling the accusations. Actually, what’s fueling the story is the fact that something happened at the National Restaurant Association involving Cain.

In 2003 I served on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s transition team and many people were reminded recently that no matter how much we despise the lamestream media, it’s important to not blindly dismiss everything reported simply because it involves someone we support.

As the front-runner in multiple polls, Cain is being targeted, investigated, and vetted. It’s called the heat of the political kitchen. It’s happening because he’s a leading politician running for a job many others want. It’s not happening because he’s black.

For respected conservative leaders to move the meme that racism is somehow at the heart of what is happening to Cain is not only incorrect, it’s dangerous as it feeds into the left’s putrid thought police loop.

Conservatives must reject the false argument meant to keep Obama specifically free from critique — that asking questions of or criticizing a politician who happens to be black must be based in racism.

Sarah Palin supporters watched and defended her for years against multiple, unfounded and very often obscene attacks ranging from her being a bad tipper to being a murderer.

While all lies, of course, the real test for Palin was how she responded to such vile accusations. She not only survived, she set the standard and illustrated how having your feet firmly planted in what you believe and who you are will carry you through.

How one stands up to any sort of allegation in the heat of political battle reveals the strength and nature of your character. It’s one of the reasons we have campaigns.

Cain’s initial response to the weekend revelations expose, once again, how deep his learning curve is when it comes to being informed on the details of the issues and the importance of expressing himself clearly to the American people.

When initially faced with questions about the allegations, he didn’t deny nor confirm; a day later he came out and denied. He first claimed he was unaware that any settlement had been paid to the accusers; a day later he discussed in some detail the settlements as though he had been a part of the initial discussions.

Here begins the actual revelation: How could Herman Cain be a man in charge of a major trade group, accused of sexual harassment, and yet be completely unaware of how the organization ended the matter? This when he had already expressed an interest in running for national office.

One would think he’d have some . . . curiosity about how the matter was resolved. And if not, what does that say about him?

How Cain has handled this latest event, however, squares completely with the seat-of-the-pants style with which he’s run his campaign so far. He’s committed not gaffes as much as he’s revealed a strange lack of connection with immediate events of the day — as though he’s a man too busy to be running for president, while he runs for president.

Whether it be not knowing what the “right of return” issue is, let alone its relevance to Israel; the statement about releasing all Gitmo detainees for one American hostage; the abortion/pro-life flip flop; and now this apparent lack of engagement on an issue with which he was directly personally involved, Cain’s disconnect seems to be less circumstantial and more a reflection of his personality and style.

For those of us who are tea party conservatives, it is deeply disappointing to admit Cain appears as though running for president is a hobby, the details with which he can’t be bothered.

Will this "sexual harassment" controversy be the beginning of the end of the Cain campaign? Perhaps, but the more pressing question for the GOP machine is whether or not their arrogance, faux conservatism, and general disconnect with the American public has doomed us all to a second term of Barack Obama, and consequently the end of this nation as we know it.

Tammy Bruce's website is at www.tammybruce.com

(c) Tammy Bruce

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