W ith a Georgia woman accusing former Godfather’s CEO Herman Cain of a 13-year affair, the Cain campaign is now officially “reassessing” whether to continue its march.
Cain is denying the affair as he has denied the previous allegations of workplace sexual harassment but his lawyer’s statement on Monday was suspiciously noncommittal toward the new accusations:
“[t]his appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults – a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public’s right to know and the media’s right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one’s bedroom door.”
The sudden concern about “private, alleged consensual conduct” is uncharacteristically libertarian for someone who recently referred to abolishing the Patriot Act as “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Saying “no” to Wolf Blitzer’s question of the affair Cain sent a mixed message by also insisting “we cannot respond to what we don’t know.” If there was no affair then why does he need to wait to hear more details in order to reiterate that there was no affair?
Cain cites the toll on his family and his level of support as the reasons for the reassessment but this seems like an odd time for such concerns of family. Why now? Allegations of Cain’s peccadilloes have swirled for a month. Is the fifth allegation the straw that broke the camel’s back and not the fourth or the third?
Regardless of the veracity of the latest accusations the Cain campaign is toast. It’s just unfortunate that posterity will probably remember that the vanquishing of Cain was through accusations of lechery and not the amateurish operation he ran.
The question will soon be: Where do Cain’s supporters go?
This race has been marked by swings back and forth among the non-Romney candidates. Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Cain have all vacillated but Tim Pawlenty is the only candidate who has dropped out of the race so there isn’t much of a precedent in this cycle of where nomadic supporters will go.
The Economic Policy Journal thinks they might wander over to Ron Paul:
“One would think that Cain leaving the race would put more focus on Ron Paul versus Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Cain ran as an outsider. Many Cain supporters are thus likely to find Ron Paul a more attractive candidate than the flip flop man or the lobbyist.”
Paul would indeed seem like the obvious place for disenchanted anti-establishment supporters to turn but Ed Rogers reported in the Washington Post Tuesday that a pollster found Cain’s supporters spread out when asked for a second choice and their top two choices were the flip flop man and the lobbyist:
“7 percent said Romney, 7 percent said Gingrich, 5 percent said Paul and 3 percent went for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.”
Cain’s appeal as an outsider was always a mirage; his entire campaign was a recitation of Republican orthodoxy.
He didn’t talk about ending functions of Washington, only about “fixing” them. His description of Paul as a “grumpy old man” said everything: “Because everything is ‘end this,’ ‘end that,’ ‘end this,’ end that.’ You have to fix stuff.” Was he saying the problem with Washington was not its size but its efficiency or lack of a competent manager?
What people liked about Cain was that he was a black Republican who was not Alan Keyes. No white political neophyte could have told the whoppers Cain did and survived this long. Perry hasn’t committed a fraction of the gaffes Cain has and the longest-serving governor of Texas is now a punch line.
It’s no surprise that the top two alternatives among Cain’s supporters are Romney and Gingrich. All are adept at telling lies Republicans like to hear and none of them are going to disrupt the status quo.
So, Republicans can feel like they voted for change but be comforted that a Republican will be steering the ship of leviathan they think they despise.