There’s a great 1959 movie starring Peter Sellers called “The Mouse That Roared.” It’s about the “Duchy of Grand Fenwick” and a plot to get economic aid from the United States.
The characters know the United States always pours economic aid into countries we’ve beaten in war, and Grand Fenwick is having difficult economic times. The plan was simple - declare war on the United States, invade, find someone to surrender to and reap the economic benefits.
Through a fluke, Grand Fenwick ends up accidentally winning, which it is not prepared for, and sets about trying to find a way to lose. Lately, the campaign of Herman Cain has been reminding me of Grand Fenwick.
A week ago, things were going well for Cain. Polls were in his favor. Fundraising was looking up. Then, the “smoking ad” hit.
Taken by itself, the ad, which featured Chief of Staff Mark Block talking about Cain and inexplicably smoking at the end, achieved its goal - a lot of free publicity for the campaign. Were that all that happened it would’ve been viewed as a quirky, “demon sheep”- type ad that created a lot of buzz. But it wasn’t all that happened.
It started with a vaguely reported story in Politico. More than a dozen years ago, when he was running the National Restaurant Association, Herman Cain twice was accused of sexual harassment. Given conservatives’ propensity to distrust the media, the vague, anonymous charges levied in Politico caused a circling of the wagons on the Right around Cain.
Nearly every noted conservative came out in support of Cain, actively defending him and pointing out there were zero specifics in the story. Politico, being the hacktastic organization it is, kept publishing story after story, each with seemingly less information than the last. The scandal was falling apart as support for Cain grew.
For reasons unknown, the Cain campaign decided to score political points off this, and things went downhill from there.
Cain lost me when – soon after he rightly had pointed out the charges levied in the Politico story had zero substantiation – he then accused the campaign of Gov. Rick Perry of leaking the story with less evidence than Politico had against him. Hypocrisy is an understatement.
Cain became what he was decrying.