Even without the scandals, Herman Cain probably was not going to be elected president. He was too much of an outsider, his campaign was too long a shot and the Republican field was too crowded. Nonetheless, his experience has lessons both for candidates and the American public.
A man astute enough to be president should have expected his secrets to be revealed. After his 15 golden minutes of fame, Cain should not have been surprised when the attacks began. That is the nature of big-league politics in this country, and Cain cannot claim that his party is innocent of making it so. … Regardless of whether the allegations were true, the sexual harassment settlements were fact, and if the women had not come forward, either an opponent or the press would have discovered them.
Still, those were not unsurvivable mistakes, if Cain had handled them differently. Newt Gingrich, who has risen from the bottom of the large heap of GOP candidates despite early dysfunction in his campaign, has brazened out criticism of his marital and extramarital history.
Cain’s problems added up, though. He managed to lose track of Libya. His 9-9-9 plan was attractive to many because of its simplicity and its promise of lower taxes, but he did not explain it convincingly. Instead, he responded to legitimate questions by pointing fingers at other GOP candidates, Democrats, the media. In some ways, he was right, but voters do not want to hear a candidate say, “It’s someone else’s fault that I’m not the candidate you want me to be.” They do not want a chief executive who paints himself as a victim. They want one who will take charge, right wron gs and fix Washington.
The Durango (Colo.) Herald (Dec. 7)