On a previous post, commenter Rebekah asked me what I thought of the Herman Cain sexual harassment charges. At that time I hesitated to offer an opinion because, after all, we are just in a he said, she said situation.
While I will remain agnostic on the truth of the charges, I do have some thoughts
Life is unfair. We do make judgments on others based on vague impressions. For some public figures, such charges would seem implausible. In this camp I would place: Mitt Romney (far too cautious and political to do something so stupid); Barack Obama (whatever criticisms you could level against him, I just do not see this one as likely); Ron Paul (just cannot see it happening – it is the Federal Reserve he wants to screw). While an older claim against a younger George W. Bush might be plausible, I do not see it likely it likely during his period as governor or president. There are many political figures for whom such claims would be plausible, or at least unsurprising if confirmed. I would place Herman Cain in that group.
They’re out to get me:
Cain’s claim that such accusations have anything to do with his race are silly; they do have something to do with his running for president. His other claim that, “they” were against a businessman running for president are laughable (as if the establishment would hate a pro-business, former Fed Reserve guy!). I also gave little credence to claims that the Republican establishment was against him. At least I did until I heard that Karl Rove called the claims plausible (and made other swipes at the Cain campaign). Lest you forget, Rove is the guy who gave us “compassionate conservative,” “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande” G. W. Bush.
Cain’s real problem
Cain’s real problem is that he is an empty suit. C-SPAN recently aired a Lincoln-Douglas style debate between Cain and Gingrich. In that long form discussion Cain was disappointing. He is certainly charming, and can hit Tea Party applause lines, but I did not detect any substance. Whereas Gingrich’s problem is that he is more an idea man, more professor than president, Cain’s problem is that he is more pitch-man than president. At one point he even, with a big grin, told Gingrich that he could go first in responding to a question. I did not detect any depth of thought, other than sloganeering, in his responses. I am not sure how well he would do outside of friendly Republican territory. I am not sure how well he would do sorting through all the competing interests and advice that a president needs to do. Inspirational and charismatic leadership can work well in the corporate world, where many things run themselves (meaning lower level –sub C suite – managers ensure they do). I am not so sure that it works for executive positions within politics. Reagan may have been amiable, but he was not, contra accusations, a dunce. Reagan possessed charm, but he had enough dept of thought to put it to good use. I am less certain regarding Cain.