It is regrettable that the rise of the Herman Cain phenomenon coincided with a career change for me, to the extent that my first (and likely only) blog post about the campaign is about its spectacular flameout, rather than covering anything that occurred in the interim. There are probably, however, some metaphors in there somewhere that would apply to the execution of the Cain operation from start to finish. I’ll leave it to sager souls than I to figure out what those are.
Herman Cain and his Presidential bid have both been endlessly and somewhat tiresomely rehashed over the last month. He made his decision today to withdraw from the race, which I applaud. It appears that the most recent revelation that he may have, at one time in the past, supplied some cash to Ginger White (the most recent woman to come forward with sexual allegations) and then failed to inform his wife about it probably constituted the final straw in an already flagging White House effort.
Beyond a few questions that, in my mind, remain unanswered (Why would you give another woman than your wife a significant wad of money and not tell her about it? Also, why not go home for a while rather than continuing a speaking tour?), I have no compelling desire to pile on any further. Cain will do what he will do and some of his ardent supporters will back him to the hilt, regardless. So it is with public figures who project charisma and authority and have an engaging life narrative, to boot.
This is the question I’ll be toying with over the following weeks and months, perhaps even longer:
Do we really want what we claim to desire, as a Republican electorate?
Cain’s chief resume enhancement, by his own repeated admissions, was that not only had he succeeded in the private sector; he had never held one elected position. And at the outset, especially, I wondered if in fact that might work in his favor. I think it did, temporarily, and perhaps still holds some allure to a tiny minority of devotees. But Cain’s repeated gaffes in interviews, notably on foreign policy subjects (this and especially this spring oh, so readily to mind), combined with the egregiously inexplicable fumbling of the multiple sexual harassment accusations, ultimately outweighed any advantages his outsider status initially granted him.
I still like the idea (on paper, anyway) of a capable private citizen being elected to the highest office in the land. There is something so…AMERICAN, so ultimately Horatio Alger-esque about the notion that this COULD happen. But is it a realistically possible expectation in our time, after the descent into fiasco by the Cain campaign, witnessed (especially in its final days) by the entire nation?
There is only one caveat that I can see: Some may contend that indeed, such a race could be run and that someone other than Cain could have handled the scrutiny to which he was subjected with greater alacrity and enhanced intuition. Perhaps that is true, but I’m not so sure. It has only been a few short months, after all, since Cain’s biography and credentials were being praised in multiple serious quarters. How squeaky clean he seemed at the time…and my, how things change on a dime.
I have been fairly heavily involved in political activism ever since Barack Obama took office…not nearly as long as some of you, but sufficient time to garner some pertinent observations. And it is increasingly difficult for me not to conclude that at least a minimal amount of government/systemic experience is necessary, in order for a Presidential candidate to dodge the murky shoals that lie in wait for any campaign in these times. I wish I were wrong and I’d be thrilled to be proved so. But that’s my working hypothesis for the moment.