Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bill Bennet on the ongoing Cain Circus

Hits it exactly right:

Four women are not an insignificant number. One or two anonymous charges, perhaps. Three anonymous charges (where, as I understand the story, Cain knows of at least two of the women) plus one woman who went very public and opened herself up to all manner of investigation are a lot. It is no longer insignificant. Neither is it insignificant that the Cain campaign discounted the charges in the initial stories, saying they were based on anonymous sources, only to make a mockery by blaming other campaigns with less substantiation than the original stories.

If Herman Cain wants to be taken seriously as a public advocate for anything, never mind running for the chief executive and commander in chief of the most powerful and important and blessed country in the world, he needs to give a full press conference dedicated exclusively to this issue and these allegations.

I have watched long enough and held my tongue long enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, but can no longer say this is a witch hunt, "a lynching" to use his word, or any other euphemism. There are allegations out there that matter and they have stacked up. For we who led the charge against Bill Clinton on a number of related issues to continue to blame the media or other campaigns or say it simply doesn't matter makes us the hypocrites as well.

As I say, all of this is bad for our politics and polity. If Herman Cain cannot stand up to these charges, if he refuses to, then he should step out of the race. A man big enough to run for president should be big enough to have a full and candid press conference on all of this -- he wants us to elect him president after all, he's asking us to trust our lives and the country's life to him. This could be one of his finest moments and it could be one of his worst. But either way, he must confront the moment candidly and manfully.

It's safe to say Cain has everything riding on how he handles the press conference later today. Things are not looking good. The count now is at 5 leveling accusations, one very public and very specific in nature. If he is in fact innocent he needs to establish that. This raises the question though; how would he prove this to a level sufficient to quash the doubts that have been planted in the Republican primary electorate? Should he offer to take a polygraph test?

And allow me to be the latest conservative leaning griper to grumble about the GOP field: Michigan/Massachusetts Mitt has been on every side of every issue, Newt has the smarts, and the ability to debate at length, but has very troubling personal baggage, Perry comes off as unsure, unable to communicate, Cain is prone to the gaffe, along with having the Clintonesque Cloud over his head, and the rest of the candidates don't have a snowballs chance. It makes me pine for the good old days.

Why doesn't Mr. Bennett run?