Cain sees the handwriting; says goodbye
The only black Republican presidential candidate for 2012 finally admitted Saturday, Dec. 3, that the heat from allegations of a 13-year extra-marital “friendship,” on top of earlier allegations of sexual harassment, was a “continued distraction” to his campaign.
“As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” Cain said at what had been scheduled to be the opening of new campaign headquarters in Atlanta, his hometown. “I am disappointed that it came to this point that we had to make this decision.”
No kidding. A Rasmussen Report poll taken before he pulled the plug showed 51 percent of U.S. voters polled thought he should get out.
We got the sense a few weeks ago about Cain’s rough waters, and also media priorities, when the sexual harassment allegations led major network news programs. The number two story on at least one network was President Barack Obama being in Europe trying to help stave off an economic meltdown.
Easy choice. Sex, number one. European fiscal crisis, distant second place. Charges about presidential candidates and sex always top boring old economic stuff.
Most people understand sex and sexual urges, which is partly why our planet now has seven billion occupants. If more of us understood economics, probably fewer would have bit on houses with mortgages they couldn’t afford.
Even after women claimed Cain had sexually harassed them while he headed the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s, Cain denied all the allegations. Didn’t happen, he said.
About the time he was probably hoping he’d faded that heat, Ginger White of Atlanta told the local Fox News channel she’d had a 13-year sexual relationship with Cain.
Since she had cell phone records verifying dozens of times they’d called and texted each other, Cain had to acknowledge they’d had a relationship, uh, which wife Gloria didn’t know about.
It was based on trying to help the woman financially, Cain said. He did a weird interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in advance of the Fox story attempting to get his denial out first. No sex, he told Blitzer.
Obviously, it didn’t take. Ginger White said she felt sorry for the women who had come forward on the sexual abuse charges, and had been denigrated by Cain as liars. So rather matter-of-factly, she said she indeed had had a sexual relationship with Cain.
With wife Gloria at his side, Cain said the accusations brought exacted “a tremendous painful price on my family. These false and unproved allegations continue to be spinned in the media and in the court of public opinion so as to create a cloud of doubt over me and this campaign and my family. That spin hurts.”
A few decades ago, sexual allegations didn’t play much role in presidential politics. Women were regarded as sexual objects among male politicians, and the basically all-male journalistic cadre felt the same way.
But as more and more women became journalists, and politicians, sexual morality became much more of an issue, and questions began to be asked. After Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart was outed as a philanderer in 1987, the political landscape shifted.
After the revelations about Hart’s suggestion that his private life was boring was blown out by newspaper reports, a male Texas state senator asked backstairs at the capitol, “Have the rules changed?”
And they had. Once the questions began to be asked about extra-marital behavior, most married politicians involved in them felt their only choice was to say “no.” Infidelity – particularly among presidential candidates – was, to say the least, frowned upon.
But then, if they were strongly suspected of lying, or proven to have done so, the subject moved from morality into credibility. If this person will lie to us about this, what else might they lie about?
And so goes the Cain campaign. There were just too many allegations about him, from people that were willing to step up and stand behind them.
Although Cain had been the GOP presidential contest’s “flavor of the month” for a while, leading the polls, he’s history now.
Cain says his campaign is only suspended. He hinted it might be revived if things change. Suspension rather than terminating allows him to keep raising money, and also probably qualify for federal matching funds next year.
He said he’ll endorse one of the other candidates before the primaries are over. He said his “Plan B” means he’ll still have things to say about what goes on.
But, except for some truly ardent supporters, his 15 minutes is over.
And his tax plan, that he called 9-9-9, will revert to being a potential prefix for toll-free numbers.
Contact McNeely at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 458- 2963.