What legacy does this motivational speaker and former restaurant lobbyist leave in the GOP? At one level, it is great that a conservative black man made it so far in the Republican race – and did so on the basis of one compelling idea: tax simplification. Those two things – along with his surreally great ads – make his candidacy worthwhile, even as performance art.
But, sadly, one feels that his race helped primarily because it could be a contrast with Obama (Cain was really black and a businessman to boot), and rebut allegations of racism in the GOP. So, although Cain for the most part refrained from playing the race card, race was at the center of a campaign that appealed primarily to older white people.
He was also emblematic of contemporary conservatism’s degeneracy into an extension of an entertainment franchise. Whatever else can be said of Cain, he sure was entertaining. That’s how he makes a living, and, increasingly, it’s how most national Republicans make a living. That’s the Ailes effect – and one can sense how FNC now wants Gingrich, if only for the ratings, and endless drama. Palin was about ratings too, according to Ailes himself.
Nonetheless, Cain’s character eventually came out: megalomaniacal, cocooned, a creature of that place where corporate lobbying meets politics, and your life is lived in hotel rooms, radio stations and convention centers. I see no reason to disbelieve the many women who claim he harassed and in one case assaulted them; nor do I disbelieve Ms White about her long affair with Cain. And what was truly gob-smacking is that he never owned these incidents and was capable of and fully prepared to offer the Full Metal Denial. I don’t trust a man who can lie that brazenly. A reader notes:
Watching Herman Cain’s address on C-Span, my lawyer senses tingled when I heard him refer to the “false and unproved” allegations against him. He used the same construction several times. Phrased that way, Cain could later claim that he was distinguishing between allegations that were “false” and those merely “unproved” – should evidence emerge that would make such a distinction necessary.
His wife, Gloria, stood up there with the grinning philanderer and political stunt-artist as he invoked everything from family, to God, to Pokemon. As a woman, I can’t tell you how unbelievably depressing I find that.