Cui Bono? Cain's Bono
In all the speculation and finger-pointing regarding the renewed, and likely continuing, parade of women accusing Herman Cain of acting like a jerk, creep or Bill Clinton, designated suspect leakers have been Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and the "Democratic Machine." Based on Cicero's always useful question, one good suspect has been missing to date: Herman Cain himself.
Though it seems counterintuitive, thus far, Mr. Cain has gained more than he has lost from the fallout of these accusations. Sure he may have lost a little support from the relentlessly upright, like the paragon who called Rush Limbaugh this week and observed that, as a Christian, he just thought it was inappropriate for a married man like Cain to be in a room alone with a woman other than his wife. But as Mr. Cain noted in his November 8th appearance, he does not need everyone to vote for him, "only 51 percent." Cain's fundraising has not fallen off significantly, and in terms of free media, with the current circus he is repeating his recent cigarette ad coup.
More to the point, conservative media types are not only talking about Cain, but now talking favorably about him. Even some of the significant proportion of the conservative commentariat honest enough to have expressed doubts about Cain's capacity to be president -- citing everything from his penchant for sloganeering over depth, his limited acquaintance with the conservative canon that results in such deviations as advocating a huge and expandable new source of federal revenue, and his demonstrably limited foreign affairs background -- claim now to be impressed favorably by his November 8 performance.
It seems the fire-breathers of the right were deaf to Cain's Clintonian and Pelosian echoes in his statement -- getting back to doing the work of the American people and, for the children -- and blind to the decidedly odd and non-presidential opening bit with Cain standing by mutely while his lawyer tried to browbeat us all. (This public turning to his staff by Cain may seem to him all CEO-like, but it also suggests a man who has no interest in the details, something a bit too reminiscent of our current President for my taste.) At least Cain spared us Mort Sahl's parody of comparable Nixon speeches: "I was sitting by the fire reading the Constitution, while my wife Pat was knitting an American flag." But wait a while; if there really is a Cain in our future it may yet come to Checkers and all that. While Cain may not have wiped the simpering condescension off Bill Kristol's face, nor the glower off Karl Rove's, he otherwise managed to divert the right wing media's attention from his incapacity to be President to his ability to declare he never had sex with that woman, not ever.
Has it really come to this? Last time, the mainstream media anointed McCain as the Indispensable Man who would bring us all together, and then unloaded on him as soon as he secured the nomination; this time they accuse Cain of being an abusive jerk and conservatives rally around him, doubts forgotten. Are conservatives so deranged by Hate the Mainstream Media Syndrome that once again, in a misguided overreaction, MSNBC and The New York Times are going to be given disproportionate power to influence the choice of the Republican candidate?