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Tested by campaign, Cain found flailing

How's this for exhibiting some keen, savvy political acumen? Herman Cain has deduced that maybe, just maybe, somebody may be out to blow up his presidential campaign. Gee, do ya think?

Now there's a Karl Rove moment for you.

And that someone just might be (cue the Perry Mason theme) YOU — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was last seen coming off in a recent speech as more addled than Uncle Fester.

Cain was bumfuzzled over news leaks suggesting that when he was head of the National Restaurant Association he apparently displayed all the social graces of a Vegas lounge lizard when it came to the treatment of several women in his employ.

As a result, the NRA apparently paid off at least one of the offended parties. And no one would have been the wiser had not the former pizza executive decided he wanted to be the leader of the free world. But hold the anchovies.

Now, as the accusations swirl of long-ago boorish behavior, Cain has concluded Perry operatives have engaged in a sleazy smear campaign to undermine his candidacy. Well! One can only hope so.

John McCain once famously said that politics ain't beanbag. And he was right. It's not for pansies, either.

If there's anyone to blame for the pickle, or perhaps the pepperoni he's in, it's Herman Cain, who has brought his hustings travails entirely on himself.

Uh, Mr. Cain, bubeleh, people saying unfortunate things about you isn't a smear, especially when they are true.

And while the Perry camp has more than performed its political due diligence by vigorously denying that, perish the thought, they would ever fling mud at a fellow Republican, the governor certainly does seem like a splendid usual suspect.

More pointedly, if the Perry people had the Cain dirty laundry and failed to use it, that would be an act of political incompetence rivaling the entire administration of the bumbling Warren Harding.

Although the unending campaigns for the presidency all too often feel like sitting through a repeating loop of the entire Richard Wagner Ring Cycle, they serve a purpose in vetting the character and capabilities of candidates.

Please, haven't we seen enough of Michele Bachmann to realize this would be like electing Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond to the Oval Office?

Herman Cain has been enough of a Washington insider to know his background would be thoroughly dissected by all manner of opposition researchers who eventually would learn of the sexual harassment allegations made against him and the subsequent settlements of the claims.

Yet Cain still entered the race. What does that say about his judgment, his hubris? And don't think for a moment if Cain had discovered something salacious about one of his rivals he wouldn't be on the phone to the nearest political reporter before you could say: "Get me rewrite, baby."

At the same time Cain hired as his campaign chief of staff Mark Block, who was once barred from political consulting for three years in Wisconsin for his role in a voter suppression scam. Obviously, dignity is running amok here.

But nothing beats the palaver many of Cain's defenders have advanced that exposing the candidate's flirtatiously-challenged penchant for making subordinates want to take a shower after being in his presence is tantamount to a racially tinged "high-tech lynching."

Ann Coulter, the Frau Blucher of the tea party, was one of the first to jump on that bandwagon as if she had thought up the phrase herself.

Perhaps Coulter is struggling with attention deficit syndrome since, in fact, the bipartisan political landscape is littered with no shortage of white politicians who have engaged in dubious behavior beginning with the Playboy of the West Wing Bill Clinton and moving right along to Gary Hart, Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, David Vitter, Newt Gingrich, Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger and … well, you get the general idea.

All the Herman Cain story suggests is that a black political candidate is just as capable of acting like a hypocritical saucy fellow as white candidates.

Intense scrutiny is the price of being a top-tier candidate. Chances are, if Cain was lagging the polls he could have had a fake eyebrow fall off during a debate, as Ron Paul did, and no one would pay much attention.

The real test for Cain is fairly simple. If he can't manage this campaign crisis, how would he handle Russia's Vladimir Putin, or the economy or some other exigency?

After all, you can only blame Rick Perry for so much.

Tested by campaign, Cain found flailing 11/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2011 6:13pm]

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