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.
Cain’s evidence against Perry? A guy who used to work for him and whom he told about the allegations in 2003, now works for Perry, so it had to come from him. That’s it. It was the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game of attempted political assassination.
The Perry campaign immediately and unequivocally denied the charge, which is more than can be said for the way Cain handled his first few rounds with reporters over the charges against him. But the fact he so crassly attempted to capitalize on his unfortunate situation has caused me to refuse to board the Cain Train.
I wrote more in-depth about this and the lazy and sloppy reporting all around on Wednesday here, but criticizing the way the press handled this does not absolve the Cain campaign of its actions. The longer it went on, the worse it got.
After throwing out the wild and reckless accusation that went over like an Occupy Wall Streeter running a personal hygiene seminar, the Cain campaign backtracked and tried to pretend it didn’t happen. But it did happen.
We’ll probably never know who was the source of the original story. The actual source’s denial would sound exactly like that of the falsely accused. But that doesn’t matter. Although the story – and nearly every one about this “scandal” – has been vague, the fact remains Cain was accused of something by two women at the NRA and no one wants to talk about it on the record. The truth, no matter how uncomfortable, is not a smear. Blaming someone for leaking the story without any proof is.
I have met Cain a few times and even interviewed him on my radio show. I like him. He’s always been engaging and refreshingly non-politician. But his poor handling of the charges and amateur attempt to use it to his advantage to attack Perry shows me he’s not ready for primetime.
He had the entirety of the conservative world on his side, and he tried to manipulate it for a quick gain. He did it over a story that was going to come out eventually, a story he should’ve put out there himself. After rightly pointing out how President Obama wasn’t vetted, was in fact protected by the media, he can’t demand the same treatment for himself.
Expect some staff turnover after the dust settles. Whoever advised him to accuse Perry and threaten to sue Politico should be fired. But the damage is done. I suspect this candidate that roared, this accomplished and admirable man, who came from nowhere to lead the field, has found his way to lose.
PS: To those I haven’t offended with my assessment of the Cain campaign, thanks for reading to the end. And to those who have contacted me to say you miss the long (almost obscenely so) columns I used to write, thank you and I hear you. I’ve just been swamped with a lot of work lately. I’m not complaining, nor am I making excuses, just letting you know. To be honest, I miss them sometimes too. That being the case, I’ll do one of those a month, more if I can.
In the meantime, here’s a quick hit of the old flavor.
Former pro-wrestler, governor of Minnesota and sane person Jesse Ventura doesn’t like the TSA. He’s not alone in that. Anyone who has gotten a colonoscopy from a latex-glove-wearing, white-shirted slacker sympathizes. But Jesse, a noted “truther,” sued over his treatment. He lost. Then he lost it.
After losing, something he did professionally when he was known as “The Body,” he said he wants to establish dual citizenship in Mexico because he hates it here so much. He also referred to the United States as “the Fascist States of America.” Um, yeah. He also said, “I will never stand for a national anthem again. I will turn my back and I will raise a fist.” How he plans to simultaneously turn his back and not be standing remains to be seen, but unless it involves bringing a swiveling Lay-Z-Boy with him everywhere he goes, it doesn’t seem possible. As for raising his fist, I can think of a place he could stuff it.
MSNBC this week locked up Meghan McCain as a contributor, ensuring other networks, who didn’t want her in the first place, now can’t get her. The woman I affectionately refer to as “the lucky sperm” will bring her years of...being a Senator’s daughter and mastery of using “‘N’ stuff” in a sentence to the last-place cable news network. Nature abhors a vacuum, so it already hated the space between the ears of MSNBC’s opinion hosts. Were they ever all to gather in one place and be joined by Ms. McCain, I fear it could form a black hole that devours the universe. Or else be hilarious.
My disdain for the “Occupy” mutants is well documented. It only deepened when I broke the story they were passively discouraging members from reporting sexual assaults by fellow mutants, something that has sadly become a trend amongst them. Add to that the violence and rioting, something progressive defenders downplay by essentially saying “It’s not a ‘riot’ riot,” and you see why I don’t have much sympathy when participants are harmed through their own stupid actions. That’s why, when I heard three of the showerly challenged mob were hit by a car while trying to storm the Defending the American Dream Summit Friday, I tweeted out the following: When I heard 3 #OccupyDC people were hit by a car while rioting, I actually felt bad. Then I saw the car was OK & was like “Whew!” What can I say, I’m a caring guy.
That is all, go about your week.
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