Saturday, December 3, 2011

What Killed Cain's Campaign

Humor, particularly political humor, can often put things in perspective in a way that serious analysis can't. An example of this phenomenon is provided by The Onion,referring to the presumed end of Herman Cain's presidential bid:
Rumors Of Extramarital Affair End Campaign Of Presidential Candidate Who Didn't Know China Has Nuclear Weapons

The Onion
If he had flubbed a question like "does Israel have nuclear weapons?", or "does Pakistan have nukes?", I might have been able to overlook his not knowing. But China? They've had nukes since Cain was a teenager.

And yet, it appears that it will be an affair that finally dooms him. There's a case to be made that in Cain's case, this is just another in a long string of examples of the man's mendacity, but to me, lack of knowledge of basic facts about our national defense trumps character flaws. If character was the overriding issue, I don't think I would have voted for anyone in a general Presidential election since I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, and before then pretty much every election since I turned 18.

UPDATE/Afterword: As Stephanie Zvan points out, even if one just looks at the various accusations of womanizing by Cain that have surfaced recently, there are still far worse things than a long term consensual extra-marital affair to worry about:
He was fine when four women said he sexually harassed them and assaulted at least one of them. Those four women could be dismissed on the campaign website as “money hungry,” “vile liars,” conducting a “liberal lynching” for “5 minutes of fame.” Their character and even their sanity could be called into question while Cain brought in more donations than ever. But then…

Then one woman showed up who said her interactions with Cain were consensual and long-lasting and that he helped to support her. And this is when everyone decided Cain’s campaign was over.

Where We Draw The Line
For what it's worth, I thought Cain's campaign was essentially over two or three debates ago. Still, it's interesting that this is what finally did him in. It may just have been the last straw, after numerous allegations that had at least a little substance, but it does seem a strange thing to end this campaign on.

It's certainly among the least of his alleged sins, and it doesn't hold a candle to his clear ignorance of just about any subject related to being President.


Paul Sunstone said...

When it comes to womanizing, I don't know what drives the scandals. Is it genuinely the disapproval of the voting public? Or is it mainly the press making a big thing out of what most people consider a private matter? I never have been clear about that ever since the voters seemed to punish the Republicans for impeaching Clinton.

Cujo359 said...

People seem to pay more attention to sex scandals. They're certainly easier to understand than economics or environmental policy, for instance. The existence of things like TMZ certainly shows that. What reason do I have to care about who performers are sleeping with? Yet people pay earnest attention to this stuff.

Whether they're really offended is another thing. Some are, and add them to the people who are offended or turned off for other reasons, and it maybe matters more than it should.

WeeDram said...

I don't think it's the sexual escapades so much as how the candidate (or elected official) reacts and handles it. If you lie about it to the public, what else will you lie about?

OK, I guess that's not at issue anymore, since pretty much all we expect of politicians is lies, even about major international crises.

I guess I have no credible theory after all. Other than the American public is nuts.

Cujo359 said...

Not an incredible theory, really. Taken together, the American public is nuts.

It's certainly true that how public officials handle these revelations is as damaging or more than the revelations themselves. Still, I think the natural tendency of most of us would be to lie or obfuscate in the face of such revelations, assuming we couldn't avoid discussing the topic. Bill Clinton handled the revelations pretty well under the circumstance, yet they still cost him support and a buttload of time and energy.

I wish we were more concerned about what politicians do to the rest of us, rather than to their wives and girlfriends.