Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Herman Cain Was a Coke Dealer!

Egads. I'd hate to be former Godfather Pizza CEO and GOP frontrunner Herman Cain right now. Well, except for his millions of dollars. A fourth woman, who had never filed a claim or got any kind of settlement agreement, has come forward to claim that he did something sexually inappropriate with her.

Frankly, I don't know what to make of this. If this really happened, I sympathize with her, as well as the other women with whom the National Restaurant Association settled. (On the other hand, some firmly believe that this latest accuser, Sharon Bialek, is nothing but a gold digger — the British link is a trip, accusing the woman of "living above her station" and -gasp!- "not holding a job for more than two years").

If Herman Cain is a horndog, serial womanizer, and a liar, that may mean something. But what? It seems to me that we twice elected a serial womanizer who employed The Baptist Lie* about his indiscretions, and a lot of people said those things did not matter in the big picture.

And Bill Clinton's detractors did not bat an eye when it turned out that some of his loudest critics — including then-House Speaker Henry Hyde — were revealed themselves to be not just womanizers and adulterers but hypocritical homewreckers.

Should it matter? Maybe not. These are not charges of rape or attempted rape. They are alleged incidents that happened kinda sorta a long time ago and, most importantly, they have been settled. Well, except for Ms Bialek, who chose not to take her case public until now (I simply don't buy that she did not feel emboldened until she heard of these anonymous women speaking out, as it were). I'd also note that, if Ms Bialek's accusations are true, it sounds like he was "guilty" of no more than being interested in pursuing an adulterous relationship, which is between him and his wife (who is not S. Epatha Merkenson, the actress who plays Lt Anita Van Buren on Law & Order).

It's not that I don't think sexual harassment isn't serious — it is! But I do believe that all people are flawed and none of these people are running for Pope. I would prefer, instead, that people give Mr Cain a thumbs up or thumbs down at the polls based on his actual positions, his ability to run the country, and his trustworthiness as a leader. (Perhaps this issue will affect that last one a bit.)

I would rather people choose or reject Mr Cain based on Nine-Nine-Nine, not Ms Beliak's claims she said "Nein! Nein! Nein!" (see how I did that?). I want people to think good and hard and decide whether keeping taxes low so that the "job creators" making more than $250K or $1 million (depending on President Obama's latest proposals) can boost the economy is more important than mitigating the various socioeconomic and health-related problems of concentrated wealth.

I want people to look at Herman Cain (or any of the GOP, such as Michele Bachmann) and ask whether he/she/they have a strong enough grasp of foreign policy to be in charge of the most powerful nation on Earth.

I'm not a big fan of Herman Cain. I think his 9-9-9 plan would be a dramatic tax cut for a bunch of people already doing well (from those who benefit the most, more contribution is expected — that's somewhere in the Bible, I think), which would be paid for by people too poor to pay taxes now (I'd be one of them, with no current job in the US but a sudden expense of nine percent on anything I buy).

Moreover, I have deep concerns about putting in charge of health care reform a man who made his millions peddling pizza. The guy took his computer systems analysis skills and found better ways to hawk Coca-Cola!

Just like Donald Trump, who made his billions (with tens of millions in seed money from Dad) feeding the addictive impulses of gamblers, this guy's wealth may have far outstripped his actual skill set. So the guy's "good" at business (and he did turn around Godfather Pizza, apparently), but does that mean he can solve the problems of health care, Social Security and Medicare reform, trimming military budgets without weakening national security and the need to project power on occasion, etc., etc.?

That should be up to the voters to decide.

I want GOP voters to be able choose or reject Herman Cain in the polling booth. Frankly, I think this whole scandal may actually benefit him, or at least not adversely affect him too much. You see, many Republican primary voters are the same types of folks who think that sexual harassment claims are often trumped up charges (of phoney or exaggerated events) designed to maximize payout. That Mr Cain is now being targeted with this is a badge of honor (and Herman Cain himself even hinted as much on Jimmy Kimmel Live). Many of these same voters also have an incredible amount of disdain for what they see as political correctness. Again, badge of honor.

In fact, if they could trace this back to the Democrats, it will embolden them all the more, whether the allegations are true or not. And if it turns out that it's Texas Governor Rick Perry's campaign that's behind these women's claims being brought to media attention, that would be a disaster that could hobble Perry for the rest of the primary season.

Of course, if Herman Cain were to get the nomination, a lot of independents might see these accusations of sexual misconduct as an reason not to vote for him. Had Bill Clinton been up for re-election right when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, it might have been a disaster.

So this scandal may be just one more reason that Herman Cain is unelectable in the general election. But then again, most of the Republican field is as well. Ron Paul is too libertarian for most people's tastes. Michele Bachmann comes across as dangerously uninformed. Newt Gingrich's own character issues — that whole divorce thing with his dying wife — would rear their ugly head. Rick Perry looks and sounds like he'd be Bush45. And Mitt Romney's magical underwear (and the liberal policies from his time as governor that he is now running away from) might make a lot of conservatives stay home in November... or vote for Sarah Palin (who I think is planning to run as a third party candidate if Mitt Romney wins, but that's another post for another time).

The only ones I think can beat Obama in 2012 are former Utah Governor and pragmatic conservative Jon Huntsman and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who advocates legalizing marijuana. The problem is that the latter is not invited to any of the debates, despite being an actual former governor, and the former seems like he's not at any of the debates. That, too, is another post for another time.

In conclusion, Herman Cain shouldn't be anywhere near our health care policy (neither should his cigarette-smoking adviser), but we should be given a choice one way or another.


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