The Coming Cain Mutiny – And Other Thoughts

by Jonah Goldberg

I don’t know whether the charges against Herman Cain are true. I think the latest accuser’s story is fishy, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely inaccurate either. I never gave Cain much more than a 5-10% chance of winning the nomination in the first place. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I think these allegations pretty much sink him. I don’t think that’s necessarily right or fair — that would depend on the veracity of the charges. Maybe his press conference today will be a forensic tour de force and put all doubts to bed, but I doubt it.

I think that this scandal is artificially propping up his support in the polls because a lot of conservative-minded people who don’t like the media, don’t like liberals, don’t like political correctness and don’t like the other GOP contenders feel like Cain’s getting a raw deal. So long as he’s seen as the victim of an unfair assault by the DC-GOP-Democratic-MSM “establishment” most of his supporters won’t abandon him, and even his fans who might be backing other candidates will rally a bit too. But when the scandal goes away for a while, I suspect many of those same people will change the calculation in their heads and switch to asking, “Who can beat Obama in 2012?” These allegations, unless they are successfully rebutted, make it even more unlikely that people will answer “Herman Cain.”

Moreover, the scandal turns what might have been an impressive floor of support into something like a ceiling. This scandal — both the charges and his handling of it — does not help him make the case he should be president to anybody who didn’t already feel he should be president.

Still the support for Cain is interesting in its own right. In all the coverage as well as in the comments sections from readers and in my own email and conversations you find people saying, in effect,  “He made a pass, he took no for an answer, what’s the big deal?”

That’s a really surprising change in attitude for some conservatives to take. Cain, after all, is a married man and a minister. We are the folks who talk about how character matters and all that. Now, emotions are complex. Herman Cain gives the impression that he’s a man of character. People are disgusted by the hypocrisy of liberals who are much less likely to care about repugnant sexual behavior from liberals. They are deeply frustrated by their choices in 2012. In short, it’s not surprising that a lot of folks have some self-contradictory or inconsistent feelings and thoughts about all this. Nonetheless, that attitude, even if embraced in haste and out of convenience, is an interesting one to see. My own view is that Cain has other shortcomings that are more substantive disqualifiers for the job of president, but if these charges are true then they are relevant and troubling in their own right.

Still, I can remain disgusted with media feeding frenzy, liberal hypocrisy and of course Gloria Allred. I heard her say something that I found particularly grotesque. She dismissed Herman Cain’s response to the allegations by saying “he has a motive to deny.”

That’s a really contemptible, absurd and fundamentally un-American thing to say. If the allegations are false, of course he has a motive to deny them. Everyone has a motive to deny false charges. Everyone. Ms. Allred has a motive to deny she’s a publicity obsessed buffoon, though she’d have a hard time doing so.

The Corner

The one and only.