Like a lot of people, I’m guilty of finding amusement—perhaps too much amusement—in the charges by anonymous women that Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain sexually harassed them. My only defense is a certain sort of sick glee in seeing any politician being hoisted upon a petard of his (or her) own making. I gleefully did the same for John Edwards and Anthony Weiner when it was their turn to cringe under the glare of the public spotlight. Consider it one my my personal flaws.
That all allowed, I must admit that I’m rather shocked at how quickly people are to write Cain off as a candidate since these accusations first came out just days ago. We’ve seen no actual evidence of impropriety, or even specific allegations, and none of the women have come forward and have preferred to remain anonymous for one reason or another.
I suspect that the reason that this vaporous charges have been embraced by so many, so quickly, is that a lot of us just like to see celebrities of any stripe fall. If you doubt that for even one second, tell me the last time we went a single news cycle without news of actress Lindsey Lohan’s misdemeanor stupidities, the drama surrounding Amy Winehouse’s alcohol-fueled life and death, or ongoing bonfire of the Kardashians.
Cain merely has the misfortune of being a celebrity frontrunner in a major political campaign, which means that rivals in his party and other other have even more reasons that they’d like to see him ripped to shreds. Compounding the problem are his campaigns inept responses, seeking to blame other campaigns after issuing a constantly changing series of answers about the allegations.
The allegations also provide a certain amount of cover to the pundit class that doesn’t like Cain for the crime of being an authentic Black Conservative (which means most of the media, all Democrats, and many minorities who consider him an “Uncle Tom”), and for those that don’t like Cain’s campaign for perfectly legitimate reasons, but who prefer to swing at the low-hanging fruit of a ethics scandal and it’s botched response.
He has no experience in elected executive office, is acknowledged to be brilliant, but but is prone to gaffes, which are many of the same problems that the Barack Obama has had levied against him. Cain is also dark horse candidate, unloved by the GOP establishment that decided that Mitt Romney would be their water carrier even before John McCain’s inept run ran aground in 2008.
All of these people have reasons o want to see Herman Cain destroyed before the first Republican primaries. For them, he is a problem and a Rorschach, a true wildcard and an unpredictable variable in their political calculus.
For that reason alone I am unwilling to write off a man who, while imperfect, represents the only threat to the political machines on both sides of the aisle that led us to our current state of financial ruin.
We will have no perfect candidate in the primary nor the general election. I’ve come to realize this. Even with the baggage caused by these accusations and a sub-standard response to them, though, I still think Cain bears serious consideration for the Republican nomination, and if he wins that, in the general election.
We’ve always elected flawed men and women, because all of us have flaws. If forced to chose, I’d rather have the flawed candidate that I suspect will be the most driven to do what is best for our Republic. At this moment, it is too early to claim Cain is not that candidate.