Was chatting with some friends last night, and one was mildly annoyed with me for being underwhelmed with Herman Cain’s presser, today. I thought it was too much talking in third-person, which suggested Cain’s need to put distance between himself and what’s he’s experiencing; too much dancing and not enough punch-throwing. While I still rather like Cain (he’s an original, at least), I can’t help thinking that he failed to take advantage of a remarkable opportunity to express the frustrations of millions and turn the table a little bit on both the press and the Democrats.
Cain seemed mildly annoyed with everything, but that wasn’t enough. He needed to be righteously indignant; not just “pissed off” but “good ‘n pissed off,” and wondering at the press and a Fourth Estate that has reduced itself to fishing expeditions wherein the bait used to draw something, anything, into their boat is an “anonymous” story, reinforced by other anonymous people, until some something is finally hooked and dragged aboard — a catch that is given full flavor points before the press even knows if it is digestible — and about whose own background little is known.
He could have asked just when “proving a negative” had become the new standard of modern journalism, and followed that up with an expression of amazement that Republican politicians such as himself or Sarah Palin are routinely subjected to determined garbage hunts, sometimes literal ones, while Democrat candidates — even presidential candidates — go so completely unvetted that nothing is known about their pasts beyond whatever has come from the candidate’s own lips.
If Cain was really nervy, he might even have said, “let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that I did make this crass pass that has been described, and that I accepted “no” as an answer — where does that put me on the sliding scale of intolerable behavior that the press has devised since Chappaquiddick and the Clinton presidency? Where does it put me compared to a Democrat congressman’s partner running an escort service out of their house? Where does it put me compared to the thorough raping of our national economy at the hands of politicians and bureaucrats who walked away from the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with their careers intact and tens of millions of dollars in their back pockets? Why would a Republican’s failings be so much more tantalizing, so much more interesting so much more dramatically heinous to you than the rapes and sexual assault occurring at so-called “occupations” in cities throughout the country?”
He needed to say, “shame on you, all of you, for being so willing to run with a story like this, you people who tried to spike the Lewinsky story and were ready to call her a “crazy stalker” until the blue dress showed up; you people who can’t be bothered investigating incidences of voter fraud or collusion between Democratic operatives and publicly-funded enterprises like ACORN. You people, who spent month after month hoping to find evidence of racism, or sexism, or homophobia, or anti-socialism, or violence at a tea party — even editing video or arguing with peaceful protesters in hopes of creating scenes to help sell your preferred narrative — while you ignore evidence of anti-Semitism, sexism, anti-socialism and violence perpetrated by hundreds of ‘occupiers.’ Why should anyone believe you? Why should I bend to your perverted, distorted and myopic vision of the nation? Why should I serve your intentions?”
Cain needed to take it to be press, and give them a public scolding for their double standards and hypocrisy in front of the whole nation — “you’ll crucify a Republican president who got congressional approval to go to war, but look the other way when a Democrat skips getting approval; you savage a Republican candidate who did not go to an Ivy League college but cower before the idea of asking for transcripts from the Democrat; you’ll mock a Republican who mispronounces a word, or stumbles over a phrase, or misspells potato — things we all have done; things that you have done — but when a Democrat talks about visiting “all 57 states,” or apologizes for not speaking Austrian, his mistake is allowed to be the forgettable flub that it is. The forgettable flub that it always is, unless it comes from the lips of a Republican.”
He could have finished by acknowledging that there was no way he could say or do anything that would satisfy the press, who work for the Democrats, marry the Democrats, dine with the Democrats — that he understood very well how futile it would be to repeat his innocence since, by the new standards of the fourth estate, every denial would be answered with another accusation; maybe it would be anonymous, maybe it would come with another face or another name upon which instant credibility would be conferred. He could have ended with “I reject your game; I reject the script you want me to follow. I don’t care if you come up with 1000 women saying I’ve done objectionable things, or that I didn’t actually do anything objectionable, but I made them uncomfortable, or that I smiled too sexy, or that I greeted them and pretended to remember them and posed for a picture with them. I meet hundreds of people a day and pose for pictures with them and I would never be rude and say, ‘no, I don’t remember you.’ You keep hauling out one rumor, one assertion after another, because that’s what you do to a strong Republican. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue to go out and talk to people, and discuss actual ideas about how to address the issues that are truly imperative: tax reform; job creation; a return to constitutional principals that have been abandoned in the past decade.”
True, had Cain made such a speech, he would have opened himself up to other criticisms, but he is toast. He has amply demonstrated that he is not suited to the presidency, both by his woeful prep on issues beyond the tax code, and by his ham-handed, stumbling response to these charges. So, he had nothing to lose, last night — the press is not going to let this story go until he’s destroyed; he could have sent the message that if he was going down, he was taking them with him.
He didn’t. So yeah, I was underwhelmed. A public and thorough exposition of the double-standards and hypocrisies of the mainstream media — on live tv — would have been a service to the nation, and perhaps the salvation of the press.
UPDATE: From bad to worse