COMMENTARY | As Herman Cain has risen in the Republican presidential primary polls he has been increasingly scrutinized by the media and the public, and so far, he hasn’t handled being under the microscope very well. This week has been particularly tough for Cain after revelations of sexual harassment claims against him became public, and that’s in addition to him making misstatements about China’s nuclear capability. While any frontrunner in a major campaign will have to deal with similar problems, it’s the successful ones that are good at handling them. Cain, for his part, has shown a pattern of failure in dealing with obstacles, and I think that should ultimately doom his candidacy.
For instance, let’s look at Cain’s response to the sexual abuse allegations stemming from his time as chief of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. When he first addressed the matter on Monday, October 31, he declared “I am unaware of any sort of settlement” related to the accusations. But that very same night, Cain was telling Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that “there was some sort of settlement or termination,” and that it was for “maybe three months’ salary.” In only took a few hours for Cain to publicly contradict himself, and he was wrong about the three months’ salary, which turned out to be a full year’s worth.
Additionally, on the very same day Cain said on PBS NewsHour that China was “a military threat,” and “they’re trying to develop nuclear capability.” Actually, China has had nuclear weapons since 1964. But this is hardly the first time Cain has shown a shaky grasp of basic foreign policy. He addressed his weakness in this area early in October, saying if a reporter asked him “Who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan?” he would answer “I don’t know. Do you know?” and then say “How’s that going to create one job?” Sorry, Mr. Cain, but I think the average voter cares about foreign policy as well as the economy.
And the list goes on. Cain has made what I can only call bizarre contradictions about his stances on abortion, building an electrified fence along the Mexican border, and the threat of Sharia law to the country. On inspection, his contradictions all follow a pattern where Cain first makes an incorrect statement or says something foolish, and later reverses course without acknowledging his initial opinion. Sometimes, I wonder if he knows everything he says on camera is permanently on record for “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” “Saturday Night Live,” and thousands of bloggers to dissect. I suppose he has been able to get away with his mistakes by virtue of his catchy “9-9-9” slogan, but I have to suspect his days as a frontrunner are numbered.