By Carole on Dec 3, 2011
Businessman Herman Cain has officially suspended his presidential campaign citing "false and unproved allegations" and "distractions and hurt" to himself and his family. He is moving on to what he calls Plan B - pushing his solutions to the nation's problems from outside the electoral process. But before his presidential campaign fades into history, there are some lessons to be learned from how the Cain train turned into the Cain train wreck.
It's Not The Scandal, It's How You Handle A variation on the adage "It's Not The Crime, It's The Cover-up," there are better ways to deal with false (or even true) allegations of misconduct than with those recently employed by Team Cain. When allegations of past sexual harassment made news, their first approach was complete denial which quickly morphed into acknowledgment of bits and pieces of hazy recollections and then mingled with claims of victim hood. Next came unsubstantiated attempts to blame a political rival for leaking the story and then attacks on the media for reporting it. This drowning man flailing about in a desperate attempt to save himself was certainly not viewed as presidential by many and gave even those who didn't believe his accusers second thoughts about his capability to handle the high pressure job he was seeking.
A Catchy Slogan Can Be A Liability Campaign slogans are nothing new especially in presidential elections, but in 2008 then-candidate Barack Obama turned his into a mantra that was latched onto by millions. Many voters mindlessly bought into the concept of Hope & Change without realizing exactly what they were purchasing. To say that the Obama administration failed to deliver on that catchy but vague promise is an understatement and the American people have become especially wary of another candidate trying to sell them a chief executive in the same way Madison Avenue sells breakfast cereal. Mr. Cain's 9-9-9 may have started out as a tax reform plan but it quickly turned into a catch phrase and then a punch line once the plan was scrutinized and found wanting.
A Sense Of Humor Is Not A Get Out Of Jail Free Card While Mr. Cain's affable manner certainly helped him gain supporters on the campaign trail and during televised debates, his wit could be a double edged sword. Telling the nation it "needs to learn how to take a joke" whenever he wants to backtrack from a potentially offensive or false statement has become a bit of a habit for him. Some examples of Mr. Cain's use of the 'I was only kidding' defense: when he claimed he had offered former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger his old job back in a Cain administration, when he suggested an electric fence along the border with Mexico and when (shortly after the sexual harassment charges against him were reported) he asked if Anita Hill was going to endorse him. Trying to minimize the damage by saying something was said in jest may be an effective technique at the office water cooler, but it's hardly presidential. As much as Americans enjoy a good laugh, we want a president who doesn't try to justify himself by chiding us about our inability to take a joke.
An Outsider Can Be Too Far Outside A big part of Herman Cain's appeal has been his status as a Washington outsider; someone not involved in (and therefore not responsible for) many of the problems government has caused over the past few years. But Herman Cain's poor performances in press interviews and debates centered on US foreign policy showed an alarming lack of readiness for the job so often referred to as Leader of the Free World. Mr. Cain's frequent response that he would consult with advisors or generals or other experts in areas of which he apparently has no knowledge gave the impression that he would defer to unelected and as yet un-named individuals to make the decisions a president is elected to make.
In the end, those allegations and hurtful distractions may have been the perfect excuse for Herman Cain to get out of the competition for a job he was ill-equipped to do.
|« Trying To Hold The GOP Hostage||Is Chris Christie's Charisma Transferable? »|