At some point the press’s eagerness for an juicy story may give way to pity for Herman Cain. How else can one react to yet another day of the never-ending parade of new versions of his story? It’s the equivalent of watching a slow motion pile-up.You’re transfixed by the horror.
Herman Cain once again revised his account of the sexual harassment allegations he battled in the 1990s, saying in a TV interview he recalled there were additional “ridiculous” items in his accuser’s complaint, beyond the single incident he detailed Monday.
Cain said in Monday television appearances that he could remember only one specific incident in his accuser’s complaint. He described that episode again to Headline News this morning, saying it involved “putting my hand under my chin, standing near this lady, saying, ‘Oh, you’re the same height as my wife.’”
But this time, Cain went on to say that there had been “a couple of other things” in the complaint filed during his time at the National Restaurant Association, though he claimed not to remember the specifics.
Thunk. What possesses a candidate to do this? I think, actually, the correct question for voters to be asking is whether Cain knows what he is doing in a presidential race. It increasingly seems clear he has no clue how to handle the press, the controversy or himself.
His opponents are sorely tempted to twist the knife. The Fix reports that a Santorum strategist wants Cain “to be more forthcoming so that you are vetted, and we don’t get into a situation where you’re our nominee and we find out things after the fact.” Interestingly, a supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, John Stemberger, echoed the same argument, saying the revelations “underscore the value of having a candidate for president who has a proven track record and has been fully vetted over time so you are not being constantly surprised by things.”
That’s a not-very subtle message to conservatives who might think the attacks on Cain are unfair, but nevertheless are increasingly concerned that Cain doesn’t know what he is doing and remains an untested candidate. Naturally, it’s an argument that plays to experienced politicians’ strengths. It is perhaps the only effective argument they can use against the outside the Beltway candidate whose policy flubs haven’t fazed Cain’s die-hard fans.
Cain’s opponent should be careful, in case the base perceives them as piling on in what many on the right think is a media conspiracy to take down Cain. Frankly, at this point, Cain is his own worse enemy. With comedians doing the work for them, Cain’s opponents might be smart to go about their business and let Cain keep digging his hole. There’s no telling how long deep he’ll dig.