I have gotten a lot of critical comments in response to this post from Cainiacs who appear to be determined to stick their fingers in their ears, and shout “LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” whenever anyone tries to tell them that the candidate of their choice has done an awful job of responding to allegations of sexual harassment. My favorite comment has got to be this one (here is my response), but it would not surprise me if someone tries to top it later on.
The protests from the Cainiancs, however, do nothing to cause me to abandon my belief that even if Herman Cain is entirely innocent of the allegations that have been leveled against him, he has done quite poorly in attempting to refute those allegations. And this story doesn’t increase my respect for Cain’s damage control skills:
A combative Herman Cain defied his staff and commented on the sexual harassment allegations that have been dogging his candidacy for nearly a week, telling media that “everything had been answered.”
After a generally cordial and policy-filled debate between Cain and fellow Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, the former businessman took questions from reporters during a press conference in which event organizers told reporters the focus needed to be entitlement spending.
“Don’t even go there,” Cain told a reporter who began asking about the harassment allegations. Cain then asked his chief of staff, Mark Block, to deliver the reporter a copy of the “journalistic code of ethics.”
But the exchange spurred more questions for Cain on whether he would comment on reports that two of his employees received money after complaining he had sexually harassed them while head of the National Restaurant Association.
“Are you not going to answer questions about this ever again?” a reporter asked Cain.
With a grin he said, “You got it,” and began to leave the room to a barrage of shouted questions.
But before making it to the door, he stopped and said, “I was going to do something that my staff told me not to do and try to respond, OK?”
As he began talking, Cain staffers told him he needed to leave – but Cain sat back down.
“We are getting back on message, end of story. Back on message. Read all of the other accounts, read all the accounts, where everything has been answered in a story. We’re getting back on message,” he said.
Someone ought to tell Cain that telling journalists not to talk about a particular story makes them all the more determined to talk about it. And giving them a “journalistic code of ethics” (whatever that is) isn’t going to get them to abandon a discussion of the story either. It would be a lot smarter for Cain to talk about the story until the media is exhausted and sick of it, and then move on.
But if Cain really doesn’t want to talk about this scandal, then he needs to stick to a policy of not talking about it. He can’t tell the media that he won’t talk about it, and that they shouldn’t ask questions about the scandal . . . only to reverse himself on a whim and discuss it. All of this makes the Cain campaign look remarkably inconsistent, remarkably unable to stick to a strategy, and remarkably disorganized.
And I am supposed to believe that this candidate–and his campaign–are prepared to stand up to Team Obama, which has already shown that it knows how to win the White House? The Cainiacs, if they want, can continue to live in their own little fantasyland, and pretend that everything is going according to plan with their favorite candidate’s campaign. But those of us who live in the real world, where the color of the sky is blue, have every reason to take issue with the notion that the Cain campaign has its act together.
UPDATE: As with my previous post on this topic, the Cainiacs have come out to defend their candidate, informing me–and others reading their comment threads–that this whole thing has worked entirely to Cain’s advantage, because, among other things, it has increased his name identification. I don’t think that any politician wants to have his/her name associated with allegations of sexual harassment and the inability to respond compellingly to those allegations, but I guess that is the difference between me and the Cainiacs. Incidentally, I imagine that most of the Cainiacs have come to this blog courtesy of Jennifer Rubin’s post, and are trying, in a coordinated way, to limit the damage to their candidate’s campaign. I actually applaud them for this; their efforts show more coordination and competence than anything that the campaign itself can come up with. But ultimately, the Cainiacs’ rationalizations are laughable, and if their efforts outstrip those of the campaign in trying to salvage Cain’s cause, then it tells you just how bad the campaign has been in dealing with this issue.
Relatedly, to give you an idea of the kind of candidate we are dealing with–and this is separate and apart from the allegations at hand, and Cain’s ham-handed response to them–consider the following report of Cain’s total and complete inability to master the details that every President and potential President ought to know:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you view China as a potential military threat to the United States?
HERMAN CAIN: I do view China as a potential military threat to the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what could you do as president to head that off?
HERMAN CAIN: My China strategy is quite simply outgrow China. It gets back to economics. China has a $6 trillion economy and they’re growing at approximately 10 percent. We have a $14 trillion economy — much bigger — but we’re growing at an anemic 1.5, 1.6 percent. When we get our economy growing back at the rate of 5 or 6 percent that it has the ability to do, we will outgrow China.
And secondly, we already have superiority in terms of our military capability, and I plan to get away from making cutting our defense a priority and make investing in our military capability a priority, going back to my statement: peace through strength and clarity. So yes they’re a military threat. They’ve indicated that they’re trying to develop nuclear capability and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to consider them a military threat.
I suppose that we ought to consider it amazing that a “serious” candidate for President does not know that China already has nuclear capability, but this is Herman Cain we are talking about. Knowing stuff is not his strong suit.
Don’t believe me? Watch this:
The contrast between Cain, who is a know-nothing, and Gingrich, who is steeped in policy detail and ideas could not be more obvious. But of course, the Cainiacs will ignore this shortcoming in their man; knowledge doesn’t matter much to them.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Cain’s support is deteriorating:
Allegations that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain sexually harassed women in the 1990s have begun to damage his bid for the White House, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found.
The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago.
Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability declined 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent.
The survey represents the first evidence that sexual harassment claims dating from Cain’s time as head of the National Restaurant Association have taken a toll on his presidential campaign.
A majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate.
“The most striking thing is that Herman Cain is actually seeing a fairly substantial decline in favorability ratings toward him particularly among Republicans,” said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson.
So much then for Cainiac claims that all is going according to plan in the Cain campaign.