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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 12:42 PM ET, 11/01/2011

Herman Cain’s quickly improving memory

When Politico approached the presidential campaign of Herman Cain about sexual harassment allegations stemming from his time as head of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), it got a sketchy response. Here’s that response:

Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon told POLITICO the candidate indicated to campaign officials that he was “vaguely familiar” with the charges and that the restaurant association’s general counsel had resolved the matter.

That’s not a great trait for a presidential candidate. America wants candidates who remember all kinds of details — personal details, policy details, facts and figures.

Yet yesterday’s events provide an opening for cigarette-smoking Cain campaign strategists: They can play up their candidate’s extraordinary ability to piece together past events even when he may have forgotten them. Call it reconstructive memory. And if the public is skeptical, there’s evidence of this super-skill on video. Just watch the candidate’s interview last night with Greta van Susteren on Fox News. Positioned in a comfy chair in front of a friendly interviewer, the candidate had a bona fide memory storm!

Here he provides van Susteren a detail on the job description of one of the complainants:

She worked in one of our departments. It was — she was — she was a writer. She was in the communications area.

Here’s a detail on when Cain learned of the complaint:

My general counsel came to my office and told me that she had made a claim. And I said, OK, what do we need to do?

Here’s a detail on exactly what was claimed:

But here’s the one incident that I recall as the day has gone on. She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying, Oh — and I was standing close to her. And I made a gesture, You’re the same height as my wife, and brought my hand — didn’t touch her — up to my chin and said, You’re the same height of my wife because my wife comes up to my chin, my wife of 43 years.

Bolded text added to highlight Cain’s superhuman ability to reclaim long-lost memory on the spot! Who else in the Republican presidential field could pull off such mnemonic feats?

Too bad the candidate didn’t activate his memory-retrieval powers a week or so ago, after Politico first inquired about the allegations. Had he done that, he might not be dealing with quite the media storm that’s now bashing him. Perhaps that’s just the trouble with this extraordinary skill of Cain’s — you can’t just flip a switch.

By  |  12:42 PM ET, 11/01/2011

 
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