The Herman Cain campaign has put out a press release (text below) noting the “troubled history” of his most recent accuser, Sharon Bialek, which includes her being “sued in 1999 over a paternity matter,” twice filing for bankruptcy, and having “worked for nine employers over the last seventeen years.”
There is good news and bad news here for Cain, but more of the latter.
Yes, his accuser may indeed be less than 1 percent credible; indeed few people (and not I) have made any claim that she is particularly credible — we don’t have much to judge by, though Cain’s research on Ms. Bialek released today does not make her look like the ideal witness. And her choice of attorney probably damages her credibility among many, especially conservative, news watchers.
However, no matter how much we find Mr. Cain affable, interesting, even slightly compelling, will Republican voters really want to go for a candidate whose campaign you can already see being one of repeated attacks from the left on his character, even if those attacks are manifestly unfair or unsubstantiated?
As Charles Krauthammer said when he spoke at the Leadership Program of the Rockies Annual Retreat in March, the Republican nominee must be someone who will allow the election to be primarily about “Obama and Obamaism.” At the time, I took Krauthammer’s remark as an obvious warning about Sarah Palin, and to a lesser degree Newt Gingrich, though different people could certainly interpret it differently. Krauthammer’s words continue to ring true to me, and Cain’s troubles, as unfair as they may be, are beginning to push him outside the sumo-like circle which encompasses the fairly wide range of candidate viability.
I understand, and almost share, many people’s gut instinct to come to Cain’s defense as a good man unfairly smeared by anonymous or not particularly credible attacks of the most vicious sort. And when it comes to what I believe to be true and how I think people probably should consider the situation, that’s where I am. But when it comes to the cold light of political reality, as my friend former Congressman Bob Schaffer likes to say, if you’re explaining, you’re losing.
No matter how much he insists he’s getting “back on message” whether the media likes it or not, as long as Herman Cain remains in this race, he will be explaining…and thus losing not just for himself but for Republican electoral aspirations more broadly.
I hate the idea of Herman Cain being forced out of this race. After all, there is nothing that scares the left more than a successful conservative black or Hispanic. But what I’ve learned most of all from the last few days is that Mr. Cain, or at least his campaign, have been unable to put out a fire — one which the arsonist told them when and where it would be set. Again, separate from the nature or fairness of the accusations, the campaign’s response to them has left me believing that the campaign — and by extension the candidate — is not ready for prime time.
Thus, with some sadness and despite — or maybe even reinforced by — today’s press release about Cain’s named accuser, I continue to believe that Herman Cain’s candidacy is and should be over.