It’s difficult to tell exactly who’s out to get Herman Cain, although this cockamamie series of allegations does not have the look of a random phenomenon. In a way, I don’t have a dog in the fight, since (as explained in some detail previously) I’ve basically put him aside in terms of who I might support for the GOP presidential nomination, for reasons of substance that have nothing to do with the current brouhaha.
However, if someone were looking to screw up the whole GOP primary contest, they could hardly have done better than creating this enormously distracting sideshow. It is natural that many are rushing to Herman Cain’s defense in the face of this bizarre onslaught of (so far) half-baked claims. On the conservative side, it can well be argued that we shouldn’t give up “one of our own” just because some media outlet or other decides to press a button marked scandal, or because a big liberal celebrity lawyer unveils an obviously-attention-hungry “victim” in a New York media-circus-ring. This should not be the way we dump our candidates. Nor should it be the way we pick them.
In a way, Cain might be reaping a certain perverse benefit. The weakness and repulsiveness of this campaign against him draws him support and sympathy from the hard core types in the GOP primary electorate, while distracting from the previously-mentioned problems of substance that ought to be getting a closer look right now.
Perhaps I’m underestimating the electorate. Maybe enough of them are keeping their eyes on the ball. The ball, for me, bluntly, remains this question: Who is the best conservative candidate to beat Mitt Romney and go on to beat Barack Obama? Barring a remarkable improvement in the kind of substance Herman Cain has been presenting, it is for me quite clearly down to a two man race on that score. It’s Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich. I hope the critical mass of future voters out there are weighing the substance rather than getting swept around by the media tides.
To the extent the GOP voters remain undecided, dazed and/or confused, I think it benefits one man most of all: Mitt Romney.
By the way, Rick Perry was interviewed today by the, er, lovely and talented Christiane Amanpour for ABC/Yahoo. I would suggest that he did pretty well here (not that anyone’s paying attention).