Someday, the Cainiacs Might Take Heed of Reality

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 6, 2011

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.

  • BradMarston

    My God the press and pundits just don’t get it! The same people saying Herman handled this badly are the same people who wrote off his campaign as a joke and a book tour. They’re saying that Herman Cain broke the first rule of political scandals. Really? You think? WHAT RULE OF POLITICS HASN’T HERMAN CAIN BROKEN?!?

    Herman Cain, Mark Block and JD Gordon have been playing the media like a fiddle! They knew this was coming from Day One and they played it exactly the way they wanted to. Millions in donations. Thousands of new volunteers. The story has pushed everyone else off the main stream media. No one is going to remember anything other than Herman Cain was the guy mercilessly attacked by the media and came out stronger.

    • Scott Osborn


      After Mark Block’s cigarette ad came out, Herman Cain said that he
      believes in, “Letting Block be Block.” and “Letting Cain…be Cain.”  This
      was not just some tiny statement, this was a bold swipe at political
      correctness. Mr. Cain does not do well with political correctness and he
      is never fearful of letting you know that.

      Mr. Cain is the most politically incorrect candidate the Republican
      Party has ever had. Mr. Cain is the only candidate that openly attacks
      political correctness.  The Mark Block ad was successful because it kicked political correctness in the shins.
      The current smear campaign has a thread of political correctness that
      attaches to every aspect of it. It was predictable that somehow,
      someway, someone would use this kind of attack. We
      live in a world where someone can take a piece of conversation, call it
      sexual harassment, and permanently destroy a reputation.  This has not only become a money making venture for some, it saps resources from the actual cases.

      It is time to take out political correctness. Mr. Cain is leading the way.

      • rustywheeler

        Yes. Married men inviting women to hotel rooms is definitely not politically correct. Kudos!

  • Scott Osborn

    This smear attack was going to come even if they had to make it all up.
    Better to get it over with now during the primary. No matter what the
    hurdle, Cain has jumped over it running. Cancer,Tight Campaign budget,
    low name recognition, the risk of putting a bold plan on the table, the
    abortion smear, lack of a major campaign machine, now this. The job of
    raising name recognition is done. They finished that for us. Now we can
    get on to other things. Even democrats and liberals are getting behind
    Cain. They like that he is not a politician. I have been seeing it in
    the tweets and in the comments. Mr. Cain is on fire! Donations are
    through the roof. All polls done after last Sunday show Cain still gaining
    momentum, not faltering.

    • Anonymous

      “Even democrats and liberals are getting behind Cain.”

      Whatever your delusions, let me assure you that this, of all things, is the furthest from the truth.

    • frank

      Sure they are.  Cain vs. Obama = 2nd term for Obama.  100% Guaranteed.

    • Demosthenes

      Because everybody knows anonymous tweets and comments are the strongest indications of political support there are.  As opposed to, y’know, VOTES.

      I’d find this astroturfing funny if it weren’t so sad.

  • Gambit5555

    And once again Cain has declared Check. Though limited in his ability to discuss the matter due to a non-disclosure clause, Cain has masterfully turned the media on it’s head, to the point that the media’s coverage of this “scandal” has become the story. The fact that politico rand 94 stories on this supposed scandal in 5 days without ever releasing any more information than the original story has simply proven to America that this was a poor attempt at a smear job. And now this candidate with awesome positive intensity scores but poor name recognition has been the topic of discussion for the entire week. What do you think his name recognition is at now?

  • BestGuest

    The problem, of course, is that you think damage control is a quality desirable in a candidate. You think this because they’ve made you believe that everyone on the Right, especially politicians, should be perpetually on the defensive. ‘They’ are leftists everywhere, but particularly those in academia and news media.

    You play their game, by their rules. You speak within the parameters of a narrative they created and control, using terms they define. Don’t you think it’s time we play our game, by our rules? Don’t you think it’s time we craft our own narrative with our terms? Don’t you think it’s time we do it our way?

    • Pejman Yousefzadeh

      I think that the ability to control damage is important because it shows that a candidate can be adept and adroit under pressure. Congratulations on your total and complete inability to read my mind.

  • BestGuest

    The problem, of course, is that you think damage control is a quality desirable in a candidate. You think this because they’ve made you believe that everyone on the Right, especially politicians, should be perpetually on the defensive. ‘They’ are leftists everywhere, but particularly those in academia and news media.

    You play their game, by their rules. You speak within the parameters of a narrative they created and control, using terms they define. Don’t you think it’s time we play our game, by our rules? Don’t you think it’s time we craft our own narrative with our terms? Don’t you think it’s time we do it our way?

  • Anonymous

    Let me say from the onset, I have not been a Cain supporter.  Earlier I was a Bachmann supporter.  I am uncertain who I will vote for in our state’s primary.  It probably will NOT be Mitt Romney.  I would prefer a consistent, principled conservative.  November 2012, I will vote for the Republican nominee, with the exception of Ron Paul.

    I have listened to Herman Cain when he substituted for libertarian radio talk show host ( and close friend) Neal Boortz  Boortz.  When asked by listeners Boortz (wisely) insists he will not necessarily endorse his good friend, Herman Cain, but will support the candidate he believes has the “best chance” of beating Barack Obama.  

    I like Cain’s positions on Israel, shariah law, fiscal conservatism, etc., but this latest scandal and how it’s been handled has given me pause. Until we have “witnesses” willing to come forward and speak publicly, all we have are charges and allegations from anonymous sources.  Yet that is what we had with Obama and his dangerous adult associations – not to compare this dangerous president with Cain.  Where there is smoke, often there is fire as they say.  

    What is even more troubling to me is the lack of circumspection by powerful Republican and conservative activists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc., who are circling the wagons around Cain; especially Limbaugh.  I voted for George W. Bush in 2000.  After the 9/11 attacks, Bush said and did some (in my view) egregious things with respect to Islam — Bush assured the American people Islam means peace; that the “terrorists are traitors to their faith,” etc. — to our only reliable ally in the region, Israel.  I expect Democrats to circle the wagons around their flawed, even immoral leader – as we are witnessing with Obama.  I do not expect to see this on the Right.   Limbaugh and the others stood uncritically by Bush even as he lied about our enemy; even as he sought to harm Israel’s security.  Uncritical support for “our” president and / or “our” candidate is unacceptable if and when he or she does wrong.

  • Neil Daniell

    Ahhh….here we go again…..more political drivel.  I said this to you once before and I am going to say it to you again.  I’ve become firmly convinced
    that you guys truly want to be the modern day Pied Piper of the American
    public’s lives.  All you guys do is pipe story after story to the air
    waves, trying to tell voters “No he Cain’t” (yes….I borrowed the pun from you).  You launch an
    astronomical amount of stories, hoping the shear volume of negative information
    will overwhelm voters. And, other outlets parade political pundits
    (such as yourself) on stage who claimed they know for certain that Mr.
    Cain can’t be elected because he doesn’t have the resources.   But ALL
    of you continue to ignore that he has gone from a name ID of 21 percent
    in August to over 80 percent now.  And ALL of you continue to be
    flabbergasted at the fact that he has risen to top of the national
    polls.  You all lament that he doesn’t have the resources you THINK he should have.  And,
    lastly, you continue to ignore that scientific state polls show him
    leading in a large number of state polls.

    The sad reality is
    that the lamestream media, professional politicians, and you so called
    political pundits are actually more like the rat infestation from the
    Brothers Grimm story. You simply want to overrun Americans with your
    political drivel. And, like the flea bitten vermin, the cold hard fact
    is lamestream media, professional politicians, and so called political
    pundits are the true carriers of the plague that is driving this country
    towards the abyss.

    So, keep spinning story after story that pokes fun of Cain. “We the People” of this land will continue to find ways to pokes back.  You seem to forget that we’ve seen the Obama 57 states gaffe; the Bush “failed a foreign policy quiz,” and the Bachmann had $2 gasoline gaffe.  We know ALL know that we have to look beyond what you spinmeisters dream up. 

    (INCIDENTALLY…the definition of “develop” per Websters means “to make active or promote the growth of” ….NOTE that it does NOT say…start from the BEGINNING…as you guys want to imply with Cain and China)

    Once again….keep making fun of “We the People” with your
    professional uppity attitude. We’re waking up to your nonsense and we
    are determined to take this country back….vote by vote.

    • Pejman Yousefzadeh

      Your delusions are about as charming as your incoherence, and your total inability to actually address the substance of my post. I notice, of course, that you don’t even try to counter the evidence that Cain is a complete ignoramus. But then, how could you?

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