So Herman Cain is out; no surprise there. There is, I think, a moral to be drawn from his demise. Cain was a hit with Republican voters because of his relentless focus on the economy. He didn’t get personal in his attacks on the Obama administration, but focused on how to create jobs and spur economic growth. His 9-9-9 plan may or may not have been the best solution, but it was a creative and credible contribution to the debate.
The biggest problem Cain had was that when the conversation turned to foreign policy, it became apparent that he not only lacked experience, which is common among presidential contenders, but hadn’t devoted much thought to the issues. That hurt him, but he remained popular because he was a strong voice for conservative approaches to our economic troubles.
All of that changed when accusations of impropriety began to fly. Cain was diverted from the issues he had been pounding away on, to the extent that he was rendered ineffective. When was the last time you heard anyone talking about 9-9-9? Whether the accusations were true or not (and it is hard to believe that there was no fire anywhere in all that smoke), Cain’s effectiveness as a candidate was destroyed.
What happened to Herman Cain is what the Democrats intend to do to whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be. They know they can’t win a debate on the economy or on President Obama’s record, so they will do everything they can to distract the voters’ attention from those matters, which should be decisive, and instead turn the focus to the GOP candidate and his or her alleged foibles. If Republican voters allow that to happen by nominating a candidate with baggage that permits the Democrats to turn him into the next Herman Cain, it is all too likely that President Obama will be re-elected, with consequences that can hardly be overestimated.
UPDATE: Presumably those readers of the Village Voice who are not complete morons will notice that four of the five quotes that the Voice attributed to me are nowhere to be found in this post. I am not sure whether someone else said them or the Voice just made them up, but, in any event, I didn’t. More here: Village Voice: America’s Lamest News Site?