Reassessing Herman Cain

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Herman Cain has led an improbable life. An African American born in the segregated south as the son of a chauffeur and cleaning lady, Cain managed to a achieve bachelors degree in mathematics and a graduate degree in computer science, become the CEO of a restaurant chain, host a popular show on the country’s largest talk radio station, and for a brief period of time become the front runner for the Republican nomination for President.

Added to his degree of difficulty is that Cain isn’t even supposed to be alive, as doctors once have him less than a 30% chance to live as he battled Stage IV colon and liver cancer. It doesn’t take a degree in mathematics to understand the numerous ways Cain has defied the laws of probability.

Roughly a year ago as talk of a Cain presidential run was becoming serious, I asked a friend of his what he was really looking for from a Presidential run. Certainly he didn’t think he could win, did he?

She told me that he generally didn’t do things he didn’t think he could accomplish, but with the long odds of the race, he would be happy if he could influence the debate, and inject ideas that could be co-opted by the eventual nominee. She emphasized that was her assessment, and not the words of the candidate. I found, and still find, her reasoning plausible.

Cain managed to become the front runner with his 9-9-9 plan. The idea was to replace the tax code with a flatter, simpler system. It also includes eliminating many current taxes including the current FICA withholding tax in favor of a national sales tax. While none of the other Republican candidates has embraced the 9-9-9 plan, Cain did manage to make comprehensive tax reform a central issue in not only the 2012 campaign, but in the current budget and revenue battles within Congress.

Along the way, Cain has developed a following of core supporters who, despite recent issues, are extremely loyal and supportive to Cain. Before his ascendency in the polls, this core group had Cain leading in the “positive intensity” category. This measures how strongly supporters feel about a candidate. Those in the punditry class understand this measure has special significance.

The positive intensity candidate has supporters that do not receive criticism of their candidate well, and see any revelation of flaws as a personal attack on the candidate and on themselves. They often respond to any critical analysis with swift and vocal backlash, and are prone to cloak themselves in victimhood as a defense mechanism. And so it has been with Cain’s supports since revelations began to surface about Cain’s issues with women from his past.

Fair or not, any serious discussion of a Cain candidacy now begins and ends with the growing list of women who claim various forms of sexual indiscretion from Cain. While most allegations remain unproven, the fact that the National Restaurant Association paid settlements to two women who worked for Cain is not in dispute. Furthermore, the fact that Cain knew about these but did not choose to get well in front of this information so he could control and mitigate the damage in advance demonstrates the political naiveté with which a Cain presidency would greet Washington.

And therein lies the biggest problem with a potential President Cain. His campaign has not been doomed because of the litany of women lining up to make claims against him. This is but a reason for those with serious concerns about his abilities to quietly climb off of a bandwagon. Rather, Cain has proven that his learning curve would be too steep, that too much on the job training would be required of a President Cain.

Cain has routinely flubbed questions on foreign policy, demonstrating not only a complete lack of knowledge but also a lack on intellectual curiosity on the subject. He says that he will have advisors to handle these issues for him. CEO’s after all, are judged by those they hire and how those execute.

Yet Cain’s chief advisor is Mark Block, a man who paid an ethics fine and was banned from political activity in his home state of Wisconsin for three years. Block is also the man that has had Cain spending his limited time on the road in states such as Alabama, Wisconsin, and most recently Ohio. Ohio’s primary is on June 12th. Iowa’s caucus, where Cain resonates with the state’s social conservative base but Cain has spent little personal time, is on January 3rd.

Cain told a conference call of supporters earlier this week that his campaign will be re-assessed, with him consulting his family and gauging the toll the personal charges are taking on him. He also needs to assess the effect his campaign is now having on his core supporters, and the Republican Party as a whole.

Those with “positive intensity” are now lashing out at anyone who dares to point out the obvious with respect to Cain’s lack of viability. They are now in full victimhood mentality, blaming “the establishment” for Cain’s downfall, with Cain’s own projections feeding this frenzy. The issues he wanted to influence are now at risk from his supporters wanting to take their footballs and go home rather than to move to a viable campaign.

In his reassessment, Cain must first take responsibility for his actions and his inactions. As the CEO of the Herman Cain campaign, the responsibility of the state of affairs lies solely with the candidate. As does the responsibility to do the right thing.

Cain is now hurting the causes that he has spent a lifetime trying to help. There are many ways in which he may continue to work toward his political goals. Continuing as a Presidential candidate should not be one of them.

20 comments

  1. debbie0040 says:

    This is a great article and so true. I have been personally attacked via email and on Facebook by a few of Cain’s supporters. Some told outright lies about my comments in order to stir up others. Most have been very nice and just took the time to ask questions..

    The bottom line is that it appears Herman has not been honest about his relationship with Ms. White. He admitted that his wife and family did not know Ms. White. I can only imagine the conversation Mrs. Cain will have with Mr. Cain when they meet face to face.

    These few supporters give Cain supporters a bad rap because they seem to be out of control.
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/OfficialHermanCainFBGroup/

    It is too bad that the Cain campaign staff is reacting badly as well. Herman chose very badly with his campaign staff.

    Ginger White: Another Loser Trying to Cash in
    http://www.hermancain.com/news/ginger_white_another_loser_trying_to_cash_in

  2. 22bons says:

    The learning curve was definitely too steep for Herman Cain — and there is no shame in that. Running for President of the United States is an extraordinarily difficult undertaking (everyone interested in the process should read “What it Takes”) and Cain’s ability to make himself competitive, if even for a moment, is impressive.

    Cain does have a positive role to play in the present and future of the GOP and I’m thankful he is willing to do it. I look forward to Cain helping unseat Obama, I look forward to Cain driving real conservative reform, and I look forward to Cain serving as an ambassador for a GOP I am proud to suport.

    • swga resident says:

      I wouldn’t count on Cain being a GOP ambassador. Don’t forget he made a conscious decision not to support the congressional campaign of Mike Keown, a conservative republican, last year because he’s such a good friend and fraternity brother of Sanford Bishop, a Democrat, a liberal, a “lapdog” of Nancy Pelosi and Obama. The GOP could have definitely used his support in that congressional race but did not receive any support at all from Cain.

  3. slyram says:

    Charlie: the part of your article about Cain running for president to promote certain issues is similar to my blog post from earlier this week. I mentioned that Al Gore ran for president in 1988 to promote awareness on global warming. Well, I think Cain was self promoting and pushing reform of the tax code but the GOP field is so thin that Cain was pushed to the top and the vetting we should have done before the Senate race finally happened.

    At this point, Cain could do something positive for the Right…something he never wanted to do. He should spend the winter explaining conservatism to non-conservatives. This would be penance for the drama and might win over some of my community for the GOP nom.

    Like we said on facebook, he should have had you on his team Charlie, and these questions would have been asked from jumpstreet.

    http://projectlogicga.com/2011/11/29/genesis-415-herman-cain-jon-huntsman-and-charlie-ward/

    • David C says:

      I’m pretty sure Gore ran for President in 1988 to get elected President. Won seven states, came in third, was an established Senator from Tennessee, and before that, Congressman. If anything, he’d have done even better without Jesse Jackson splitting the South. He ran in ’88 as a kind of proto-DLCer, pioneering that centrist territory that Clinton would cover four years later.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Sly, the explanations of a Constitutionalist that doesn’t know that “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” aren’t in the Constitution, believes that Muslims are categorcially unfit for government appointment, and doesn’t know that China has nuclear weapons, aren’t likely to be seen as a credible.

  4. Bluegoose says:

    The embrace of Cain by the Tea Partiers pose a problem for Sean Penn, Morgan Freeman and many Hollywood Leftovers by disproving their charges of racism. It didn’t stop them from repeating that mantra but the casual observer can clearly see these charges as baseless.

  5. cheapseats says:

    The “womanizing” thing may be the hot topic and the worst PR nightmare for Cain but, it’s not really the important thing. The main point is that Cain isn’t ready to be POTUS. He’s just completely unprepared for the job.

    The people who will say “neither was Obama” are the same ones who rant that Obama is the worst POTUS ever so, there ya’ go. When a person isn’t ready for the job, they shouldn’t have it.

    Personally, I listened to Cain on the radio for a number of years and was deeply impressed with his total lack of knowledge, failure to do even the slightest bit of homework or fact-checking, and his attitude of “ignorant and proud of it”. If he was going to make a run for POTUS then he should have started learning something about the job a long time ago – like facts and such.

    I have always thought his candidacy was about trying to copy the Palin business model of getting very rich spouting total nonsense to groups of people who don’t know their derriere from third base. I still think I’m right about that.
    No serious candidate would associate with his campaign team.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      It only took me a couple of months of listening to Cain’s show to come to the conclusion Cain was appeal was entertainment.

  6. David C says:

    I’m still not entirely convinced this isn’t a “Springtime for Hitler” situation, where Cain realized he could make more money for himself with a flop presidential campaign (through book sales, media offers, etc.) than he could with a hit…

  7. slyram says:

    David C: Everyone who runs for president wants to win but that is what Al Gore said in “An Inconvenient Truth:”

    http://www.hokeg.dyndns.org/AITruth.htm

    Political Journey
    When I went to the Congress in the middle 1970’s I helped organize the first hearings on global warming, I asked my professor to be the lead off witness. I thought that would have such a big impact we’d be well on the way to solving this problem, but it didn’t work out that way. I kept having hearings, and in 1984 I went to the Senate and really dug deeply into this issue with science round tables and the like. I wrote a book about it. I ran for president in 1988 partly try to gain some visibility for this issue. In 1992 went to the Whitehouse. We passed a version carbon tax and some other measures to try to address this. I went to Kyoto in 1997 to help get a treaty that is so controversial, in the US at least. In 2000 my opponent pledged to regulate the CO2 and that was not a pledge that was kept. The point of this is all this time you can see what I have seen all these years. It just keeps going up. It is relentless.

    • Harry says:

      Yeah, I’m sure Cain was/is in it to win. I find it hard to believe that he didn’t consider the risk of his interactions with the ladies. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say, like a lot of us, he just enjoyed a verbal give-and-take, maybe even innocent flirtation, but he failed to reckon with the opposition media. It sure didn’t look good, especially if the wife wasn’t even aware of the longstanding relationship with the local friend.

    • saltycracker says:

      Assuming global warming is not a “natural” planetary trend and the primary causation is mankind, Al Gore’s book taught us that there are two key matters that have to occur to reverse it:

      1. A dramatic reduction in population
      2. A reversal of progress via
      a. global industrialization
      b. improved living standards
      c. deforestation

  8. I Miss the 90s says:

    I highly doubt Cain was ever in this contest to win it. His net worth is down about 70% from where is was in the late 90s and has shown that he is not very good at handling money (just look at how ineffectively the Cain campaign has spent their funding). On top of that he will probably be getting a divorce in the near future.

    He will walk away from this circus and take a job with Fox News just like other “candidates” have. He will write a book about how he is the victim of the liberal media that will be shelved next to Glenn Beck’s next manifesto of intolerance that will sell for $24.99 a copy. Just look at that celebrity bimbo Sarah Palin. She made more money in her first year of Fox News employment and from a biography about her uninteresting, but unfathomably cliche, frontier lifestyle than she had collectively made in her “professional” life.

  9. saltycracker says:

    Robo calls from Cain committee that he will speak from his HQ tomorrow with a big announcement. Stay tuned.

  10. fuzzypeach777 says:

    “The “womanizing” thing may be the hot topic and the worst PR nightmare for Cain but, it’s not really the important thing. The main point is that Cain isn’t ready to be POTUS. He’s just completely unprepared for the job.”

    Yeah, because a unknown from Illinois is SO much better. “57 states” and the “English embassy” show how truly prepared The Kenyan is for the office of President.

    The treatment Cain received at the hands of the media as opposed to their actions with Clinton and his harem should put to rest any remaining illusions of an unbiased media.

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