Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Letting Herman Be Herman

It's been a rough few days for Herman Cain. Two different stories have broken that can derail his candidacy, though there is no noticeable fall-out yet. As a matter of fact, the day the story about sexual harassment broke, the Cain campaign said a record number of dollars was raised for his bid. I've been reading comments that the media is trying to destroy GOP presidential Herman Cain.

This is an understandable charge coming from conservatives, given the blatant double standard in journalism we see regularly. The media consists of liberals, we know this. Here's the thing - we know this. Do you get it? Since we know this, it is even more important that conservative candidates are prepared in election battles. How can it be 2011 and we have candidates so unprepared?

In a presidential election where the incumbent - a Democrat - is so low in favorable numbers for job performance and voters are looking for an electable alternative, it is inexcusable for a Republican candidate to fall for the usual traps. In the case of the sexual harassment charges, the Cain campaign was given a heads-up 10 days ahead of the story being published and the candidate said it was ultimately his decision not to respond. Really? Did he think it would all just go away? He should have a campaign staff capable of crisis management, no matter how unlikely it is that that candidate will ultimately be the party's nominee. He should have called a press conference immediately, after getting his story straight on the events, and gotten out in front of the pending story.

How many times must we see this mistake play out before all candidates learn the lesson - get out in front of bad stories. Be on the offense, not the defense. It's true the media is out for the gotcha story, especially against conservative candidates, but, come on. The unprepared candidate has to take some responsibility for the situation, too.

Not only has the Cain story continued to evolve over the course of now 48 hours, as I write this, but the story grows. First he said he didn't know anything about a settlement. Then he said he didn't follow up on how the claims were handled and resolved. Then he said he didn't remember signing a settlement and so on. Finally he was parsing the definition of settlement and sounding horribly Clintonian as he did so.

My question, as a woman who worked for many years in the business world, is this - how can someone claim to not remember basic facts about an issue as explosive as sexual harassment in the workplace? And, if this is an isolated incident from the 1990's, why doesn't it stand out even clearer in his memory. Why didn't he monitor how it was being handled and the details of the settlement? Why didn't he want to know? And, if it comes out that he did do all the steps most people would do, why did he not come clean right away?

And, for those on the left who wrapped Bill Clinton in a protective cocoon during all of his unsavory affairs while in office, I say this - you have absolutely no standing in this discussion. Step off.

The expression the campaign likes to use is, "let Herman be Herman". Well, that is fine but it doesn't excuse incompetence and it doesn't excuse less than straightforward behavior, either. He is running on the fact that he is a businessman, not a politician. His behavior, however, is more like a politician at this point.

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