Over the last twelve hours, the Cain controversy took a lurch toward complete farce with the Cain campaign accusing, with no evidence, the Perry campaign and specifically Curt Anderson, with leaking the story. As a theory, this at least makes sense: Perry needs Cain to deflate, and one interpretation of Perry’s strange New Hampshire speech is that it was an over-the-top attempt to demonstrate the liveliness and personality that has helped Cain steal most of Perry’s support. But the Cain campaign seems only to be making a wild guess about Anderson. Incredibly enough, Cain himself made the accusation and then Mark Block went on Special Report to reinforce the charge with a — let’s just say — memorable performance. Among other problems with this tack, it’s extraordinarily foolish for the Cain campaign to make this about anything other than an unfair attack on it by the media. Now, it’s a little less a story about a biased media and a little more a story about intra-conservative backbiting. Cain has been the sympathetic victim so far, but now he’s the one who’s lodged an unfair charge. While there aren’t great reservoirs of support out there for Rick Perry at the moment, Republicans have shown they don’t react well to evidence-free, outlandish attacks by one candidate on another (see how Bachmann hurt herself by going too far on the vaccine issue). The Cain campaign would be well-served to get their candidate out of Washington and instead put him in front of real voters who are much less likely to obsess about this story than Washington-based journalists.
Meanwhile, more people are willing to say Cain did or said atrocious things around women, without doing us — or more importantly, him — the favor of spelling out what these alleged atrocities were.