The Post has a must-read piece about Herman Cain’s tenure at the National Restaurant Association. Quite apart from any sexual harassment troubles, it seems that he was not good at his job:
Once settled into the powerful trade association’s 17th Street NW offices, however, Cain developed a different reputation. Colleagues recall that he spent the organization’s money liberally, commissioning new information technology and phone systems and spending nearly double what had been budgeted to renovate an auditorium.
“He did not have the temperament to be an association executive,” said William Fisher, Cain’s predecessor at the organization. “He did not like to have to go to a board of directors to get authorization to do certain things. He did not like criticism from the state associations.”
The implication is that this is reflective of his personal shortcomings as an executive: “His problems at the restaurant association mirror those that have plagued his campaign. A talented orator, Cain has inspired a level of enthusiasm in conservative voters that his rivals can only envy. But he has struggled to maintain an organized campaign, with staff members in key states quitting out of frustration.”
This is entirely at odds, of course, with Cain’s message that he is a problem solver and uber-competent executive. It also poses a legitimate question as to how he was so successful at Godfather’s Pizza and so bad at running organizations (NRA, his campaign) after that.
It’s very possible we have the Peter Principle at work here. It’s one thing to sell pizza and quite another to be a public figure managing competing constituencies, receiving barbed criticism, and being pressed to deliver more than one-liners and good cheer. It’s also possible he simply knew who to hire and had better help in the pizza business.
When combined with his failed Senate bid, there is a real question as to whether Cain’s main selling point is a mirage. If he has no government experience, doesn’t take criticism well, isn’t able to learn new skill sets easily, is poor at culling talent and, most of all, doesn’t understand his own limitations, what is he really offering?