The Spectacle Blog

Cain in Trouble?

By on 11.2.11 | 4:22PM

Go back and look at my reviews of the debates and at my overall coverage of Herman Cain here and at other sites, and you'll see that I have praised him immensely and that I've been more than open to the idea of him as president -- assuming he undergoes proper vetting. Well, he's getting the vetting. It ain't abetting his cause. I am inclined to disbelieve the sexual harassment allegations against him while insisting that it was completely acceptable for Politico to report them-- but this latest report has me more than a little worried: A witness says Cain's behavior, if known, would "end his campaign."

Look, if you are running for president and you know that two such allegations (even if totally untrue) were lodged against you, you darn well ought to have not only been prepared to discuss them but also to pre-emptively air them out -- and if there is truth to them, you have no business running for president.

Meanwhile, the list of subjects on which Cain has not just made gaffes, but actually sounded ignorant (NOT stupid; ignorant: There's a big difference) or inane keeps growing by the day. The latest is his apparent lack of awareness that China already is a nuclear power, and has been so for more than 40 years. This follows his absurd citations of two sets of near-polar opposites as the people whose thinking on foreign policy he agrees with most (followed by the bizarre segue into citing Brent Bozell III in the same answer), and his apparent endorsement of a "right of return" for Palestinians, and his openness to negotiating with terrorists.

On abortion, as well documented, he has said within the same verbal paragraph that he is entirely pro-life and then provided a 100% pro-choice explanation for his position, not just once but several times, without any apparent understanding that he has completely contradicted himself. He has offered differing accounts of whether the Fed should be audited, about whether he would ever hire a Muslim -- and about whether he ever said what he actually, proveably did say about Fed audits and hiring Muslims.

Now, it really sickens me that Cain has played the race card by asserting that the harassment story occurred because he is black. I hate it when the Left plays the race card, and I hate it when the right does. No, the story didn't come out because he is black; the story came out because ANY candidate for president who had multiple allegations of harassment against him would eventually need to face the story because somebody in the media would report it. The story came out because the allegations already were there. The story gained special prominence, perhaps, because he is a conservative (the media would have reported it but also belittled it if it were about Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy) -- but not because he is black. If it had been Romney or Perry or Ron Paul, the story would have been played the exact same way.

Indeed, conservatives may be giving Cain a pass on lots of things -- his only-borderline-relevant experience, his verbal slips, his lack of coherence on numerous issues -- because he is black and they subconsciously are so eager to defend a black conservative from lefty/media attacks. It is an understandable impulse: There is no racial animus in modern conservativism whatsoever, but so few blacks are avowedly conservative that we get excited when somebody as admirable as Cain comes along. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't scrutinize him very carefully. All sorts of good people might be good choices for very prominent jobs (in Cain's case: Treasury Secretary? Fed Chairman?) without being ideal, or without being ready, for the presidency.

Far better that we hash these issues out now, months before the first vote is cast, rather than letting the establishment media along with the Obama campaign's expected $800 million-plus blindside Cain, and us, with these things in the fall.

TO BE CLEAR: This is not to say that Cain has disqualified himself. He has a great record of accomplishment, a gift for "connecting" with voters, a high degree of likeability, obvious leadership skills, serious economic literacy, and many other fine qualities.

But we don't really know the man -- yet. We have had no chance to see how he actually behaves in elected public office. Without that record, we have not just a right but a duty to probe even more deeply into any other part of his background that seems relevant. Vetting is a good thing.

Okay, done. Now readers can start your howling that I'm somehow a RINO, or for Romney (decidedly NOT the case), or whatever other epithet or insult you can come up with based on a misreading of, or refusal to fully read, what I just wrote.

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