What Cain Should have Said at Presser – UPDATED

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

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://www.PolitiJim.com PolitiJim (@politiJim)

    I would put you in place of Mr. Block immediately.

  • Joseph

    Sure, there’s a lot he could have said. I had a speech all written out for him too, and he didn’t follow it. But let’s not split hairs. He said what he needed to say and made his point. He has earned the benefit of any doubt about his innocence.

  • Richard Johnson

    I agree…the speech was underwhelming. But, in his defense, the deck was stacked against him. Had he come out as hard as the Anchoress suggests, and then one of the accusers actually did come up with some convincing proof, he not only would have ruined his own campaign but he would have guaranteed that the next GOP debate would have had a question for each candidate about their reactions to Cain’s “indiscretions”. This would have forced the rest of the GOP crowd to beat up on him in the most clear language or be left looking less than serious about sexual assault (and after the Clinton debacle you *know* that the Democrats would love to cast Republicans as soft on this issue, or only caring when the alleged perp is a Democrat).

    We have another named accuser now, and Cain is firmly on record with his side of the story. She said…he said. And we have an issue that will dominate the media for the next 2-3 weeks unless another accuser or two come forward publicly to speak.

    Word on the street here in Iowa is that Cain is still up over Romney by 2 or 3 points after this broke according to a couple of midweek polls.

    Meanwhile, life goes on.

  • Richard Johnson

    Just came across this, from Charles Krauthammer.

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/charles-krauthammer-sternly-advises-herman-cain-to-stop-accusing-people-of-setting-him-up/

    “With the possibility of making it to a primary increasingly slim for Herman Cain as he faces a number of sexual harassment accusations, Charles Krauthammer visited Bill O’Reilly tonight to give a review of his press conference. Krauthammer was impressed with Cain’s “high wire act” but warned him that he had made one mistake that had surfaced before– accusing the Democrats of having something to do with the story surfacing, after his chief of staff previously accused the Perry campaign of the same.

    Krauthammer noted that he did believe Cain could survive, “but it won’t be easy.” In today’s “high wire act,” Krauthammer argued Cain “crossed a wire just about intact,” but for him to “blindly blame it on the Democratic machine” did him no good: “you can’t go around making charges if you don’t know they’re true or not.””

  • http://elizabethk-fthnfort.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth K.

    I agree with all you’ve said here, with the addition that I really wanted something that acknowledged both the seriousness of this kind of allegation, and complete outrage at the way false allegations undermine real women with real workplace problems. Or something like that. Count me underwhelmed as well–and I really don’t like the 3rd person thing–I think it’s too weird.

  • kenneth

    So the upshot of this post is that you would have admired him as a candidate if instead of transparently addressing the serious allegations against him, would have instead have made an appeal to moral relativism? Instead of demanding a modicum of decency and accountability from all who aspire to the world’s top leadership job, we should just set the bar to the lowest common denominator of what the “other guy” got away with? If that’s really the level of moral reasoning you’re advocating, you’re wasting your time with the catechism and confession. The stream you’re drinking from springs from Ayn Rand and Anton LaVey, Nietzsche and Machiavelli.

    Or end-stage Imperial Rome. Power is not a public trust that a requires any demonstration of competence and character. It is a prize to be seized by whoever has the cunning and ambition to do so. What’s right is whatever one has the chutzpah to get away with. We’ve largely dispensed with the idea that a candidate should have any knowledge or technical competence for the job. Why not virtue as well? We are in a race to the bottom and instead of questioning that, the name of the game is to make sure “our guy” gets to the finish line first. Hail, Gaius Germanicus Caligula!

    [Oh, GAWD, now I'm a fellow traveler with Ayn Rand and Anton LeVey? And Macchiavelli? You're misreading me, bigtime. I am not suggesting anything that would end with an acquisition of power -- quite the opposite. I've said Cain is toast. My whole point, here, is that while he's going down for the third time, he had the opportunity to, in an unfiltered manner, on live tv, say what no one running for office ever says to the press: 'clean your own house.' Someone needs to, finally, ask the press to their face why what is okay for a Clinton is not okay for a Cain -- NOT to make bad behavior more permissible, but for precisely the opposite reason, and to possible affect an end to the double-standard that currently permeates. On his way out the door Cain could have performed a public service to the nation by challenging the press to be as curious and questioning of every candidate as they were with Bush, rather than be as passive and accepting as they have been with Obama, which is dangerous. The press may have annoyed me sometimes about Bush, but at least they were doing their jobs. With Obama, they dropped their pencils and simply said, "yes, how'd you get to be so great," and they still can't bring themselves to ask him a tough question or even look into his background. Very dangerous to have a person installed into the most powerful office in the world, and not hold him accountable for anything. -admin]

  • Kevin

    Look we can’t have sinners in office. We have to have some standards.

    That was a devastating essay Anchoress. Id like to see it go national somehow.

  • Sibyl

    One point Mr. Cain did make that is very important is that he has seen women sexually harrass men just as often as the opposite.
    Here are a few red flags in Sharon Bialek’s story:
    – Dinner and drinks alone with a married male co-worker is outside the boundaries of moral practice for both of the male and female.
    - Some of the ‘business wear’ seen in the workplace today certainly qualifies as sexually harrassing for any red-blooded male with eyes. Cleavage, short skirts and revealing clothes do not belong in the workplace.
    - Living with a man outside of marriage who supports you, used to be called being a ‘kept woman’ or ‘keeping a mistress’ not a ‘fiance’.

  • Geoffrey

    I fear that maybe he’s being cautious because he knows the allegations are true.

  • Will

    The story will go as far as the facts will carry it. Republicans will eventually decide who gets their nomination. Cain loses credibility as more women put aside the safety of being anonymous and come forward to face the cameras and news writers. One of his statements was that more women would come forward.

  • Bob B.

    I tend to agree with Geoffrey. As more and more comes out about some of the other alleged victims, I really start thinking that there may be more to this, and Mr. Cain knows that. From what I have read about Karen Kraushaar, who filed the sexual harassment charge that Mr. Cain has acknowledged was filed, she does not come across as some sort of gold digger. As I understand it, she has tried to stay out of the limelight, and only went public after “The Daily” (which could hardly be considered part of the “liberal media”) published her name. And, her story has a ring of truth: she got away from a hostile work environment, getting 1-year’s salary as a severance package, and now is only wanting to go public because she hears Mr. Cain denying things she knows happened.

    We can complain all we want about a double standard between Democrats and Republicans. To me, the more fundamental question is, does the conduct being described, if true, describe someone you want as president? If what is being said about Mr. Cain is true, then my answer is no, as it was when the same things came out about Sen. Kennedy and President Clinton, et al.

    [Yes, but we'll never know what's true because it's the sort of thing that can't be proved. There usually is fire where there is smoke, but my point in this piece is this: it was a chance to challenge the press on exactly that sort of thing -- the doublestandard that says it's acceptable for a Clinton but not for a Cain. I have often said that given the choice, I'd take a press unfairly finding fault with everything a president does, ala Bush, than one that nods and asks no questions, ala Obama. The second is more dangerous, and that's what we have now. -admin]

  • Katherine

    My Anchoress, this is among your best writing. I agree it should go national.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    I’m afraid it’s going to get ugly. I don’t know what Cain could have done or still could do where it doesn’t degrade into a food fight. Anchoress, your suggestions are things most politicians bring to the press behind the scenes in private discussions. I assume Cain’s campaign did that, but they seem so inexperienced that perhaps they didn’t. Maybe that’s why this has degraded this far. Cain needs to find a graceful exit. I just don’t see how that happens now.

  • Frank Gibbons

    As pure writing, this is your best effort.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    If all this were true, and it were really serious, it would have come out months ago, when Cain first started campaigning.

  • CV

    I like Cain but he was never going to be the GOP nominee, IMO. Have suspected all along that he’s not ready for primetime and the latest turn of events confirms it.

    But man, I would have loved to have heard Cain give your speech to the press! He’s exactly the guy who could pull that off.

    Remember when that NYT reporter asked Obama what had most “enchanted” him in his first few months on the job? Gag. Enough already.

  • kevin

    The root cause of the horrendous bias in the old school media, in my opinion, is that people with conservative inclinations just don’t go into the media or journalism. For many, many years it has been liberal to hyper-liberal students, wanting to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, who go into it.

    Conservative leaning students tend to go into the business world, law, finance, etc. This is why it continues to be dominated by liberals.

    That is changing to some extent with the multiplication of media sources and that is good, but that is the root cause I think.

  • http://TheAnchoress Theresa Gardner

    If Herman Cain is truely innocent all he has to do is sue these women for slander. The end.

  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    As I read your preferred speech, I felt – energized. How amazing would it be if a politician actually said those words? It has the potential of course to completely undermine said politician’s ambitions in that arena yet – what a wake-up call it could be to the press and to the public.

    Also, speaking as someone who actually was sexually harrassed by a former boss over a 3-year period of time – if these women are lying, then a pox on them for all eternity. They are the ones who make legitimate claims of sexual harrassment difficult-to-impossible to bring to proper justice. As in my case – asked to leave, here’s some money for your trouble and oh yeah sign this paper that makes you shut up … forever. And nothing ever happens to the harrasser – everything is all hushed up so they can keep their 6 figure salary and their 6 figure bonuses. If Herman Cain is indeed guilty and solid proof is provided then he should pay for his crimes.

  • kenneth

    [Oh, GAWD, now I'm a fellow traveler with Ayn Rand and Anton LeVey? And Macchiavelli? You're misreading me, bigtime. I am not suggesting anything that would end with an acquisition of power -- quite the opposite. I've said Cain is toast. My whole point, here, is that while he's going down for the third time, he had the opportunity to, in an unfiltered manner, on live tv, say what no one running for office ever says to the press: 'clean your own house.' Someone needs to, finally, ask the press to their face why what is okay for a Clinton is not okay for a Cain -- NOT to make bad behavior more permissible, but for precisely the opposite reason, and to possible affect an end to the double-standard that currently permeates. On his way out the door Cain could have performed a public service to the nation by challenging the press to be as curious and questioning of every candidate as they were with Bush, rather than be as passive and accepting as they have been with Obama, which is dangerous. The press may have annoyed me sometimes about Bush, but at least they were doing their jobs. With Obama, they dropped their pencils and simply said, "yes, how'd you get to be so great," and they still can't bring themselves to ask him a tough question or even look into his background. Very dangerous to have a person installed into the most powerful office in the world, and not hold him accountable for anything. -admin]

    It still staggers the imagination to see how you could see this guy as a credible voice for lecturing anyone, even the media on accountability. Maybe we can give Bernie Madoff the bully pulpit to demand higher ethics and transparency from financial regulators! There are, no doubt, stories of human rights violations which are not being given sufficient attention by the media. This is a golden moment for Bashar al-Assad to tell the West to “clean up its own house” before criticizing him.

    Here’s the thing about righteous indignation: If you want it to carry any moral or persuasive force, the speaker expressing it has to display at least SOME he righteous behavior themselves. Otherwise it’s just a bare appeal to moral relativism. Cain didn’t unleash the tirade you hoped for precisely because he’s very well aware of the fact that he doesn’t have a toe to stand on as a voice for accountability right now, and he realizes he would have gone from a besieged candidate to a laughingstock had he done so. From that point on, The Onion would have been the only people on Cain’s media bus. Cain is, in my eyes, an unqualified lightweight for the job of president, but he’s not a complete fool.

    I’d also be curious to see you, or someone, flesh out the assertion that Clinton and Obama and presumably all Democrats always “get away” with things or get kid gloves treatment by the media. I was in the news business myself back in the Clinton days, and hip deep in political coverage, though not part of the D.C. corps in any way. I distinctly remember him being under a pretty harsh media spotlight when his misconduct came to light. It was THE topic of news cycles 24/7 for most of the rest of his presidency. I don’t remember the media sitting on their hands, at all, during those times. Some were better than others of course, but by and large, they followed the evidence and put hard questions to everyone involved.

    In the case of Obama, he had his honeymoon period in office like everyone. It WAS creepy how the country projected messianic expectations on him at first, but that was not created by the media. It was a groundswell of relief and jubilation that we finally had someone who was not an actual moron at the helm. That sentiment was shared, for a time, even among most of the moderate Republicans I knew. Ever since he started doing the job for real, he’s had plenty of heat from plenty of reporters. Health care, war policies, questionable dealings with solar companies, a dead economy. I don’t see him getting a pass on this stuff from anybody these days. I’d be curious to see what scandal you think he’s “gotten away with,” apart from the tinfoil hat conspiracies about his birth. Even those were indulged and pursued for many months.

    [It "wasn't created by the media?" Obama is "like god" that was Evan Thomas. Remember the "what has enchanted you since becoming president" presser. He STILL is getting pass after pass. Barely any coverage of Solyndra. The most grudging coverage of Fast and Furious. No editorial outcries for continuing the Bush policies that formerly were "shredding the constitition. Please. I'm done having this debate. Maybe we all see what we want to see...and some of us refuse to see what's right before us. Finis. I have no more time for or interest in this absurdity. -admin]

  • friscoeddie

    Cain’s right hand man Brock said on Hannity that the new accuser Karen Kraushaar’s son worked for Politico. A Kraushaar[but not related ] used to work for Politico but does not any longer So… No son.. no job… You guys must have missed this media outrage because you don’t watch fair and balanced FoxNews .. )-:

    [In fact, I don't watch Fox News, but the link in the update, which I postead um, last night, was your basic facepalm. I've said repeatedly that this campaign is inept and ham-handed. But keep sneering, Friscoeddie. It seems to make you happy -admin]

  • Richard Johnson

    Indeed, friscoeddie, it looks like Block needs to be on a tighter leash.

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/11/09/herman-cain-campaign-admits-mark-block-was-wrong-to-link-accuser-to-politico-reporter/

    “Herman Cain’s presidential campaign is admitting that campaign manager Mark Block had his facts wrong when he said on Fox News that one of the women who has accused Cain of sexual harassment is the mother of a reporter at Politico, the news outlet that first published the allegations ten days ago.

    Appearing with host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, Block said it had been “confirmed” by the campaign that accuser Karen Kraushaar’s son works at Politico.

    But soon after Block made that statement, Josh Kraushaar, a former Politico reporter who Block didn’t specifically name but who he was referencing, said Block was wrong and that he’s not related to the accuser.”

  • http://walnutcreekestateplanning.com/practice-areas/probates Gilbert Laningham

    I truly like Herman Cain. It is unfortunate that these people can come out of the woodwork and level these accusations against him. No matter what party you are affilaited with no one deserves to be falsly accused. I don’t know if he did it or not but it seems very odd.

  • craig

    kenneth writes:

    “I’d also be curious to see you, or someone, flesh out the assertion that Clinton and Obama and presumably all Democrats always “get away” with things or get kid gloves treatment by the media.”

    Maybe you don’t remember how none of the MSM would run the Monica Lewinsky story until Drudge did. Maybe you don’t remember how none of the MSM would run the Rielle Hunter story (1984 VP nominee John Edwards’ mistress) until the National Enquirer did. Maybe you don’t remember the prostitution ring being run out of Barney Frank’s house, or Gerry Studds’ sexual relationship with underage House pages, or a thousand other stories buried on page 82 if reported at all. We know almost everything there is to know about Sarah Palin’s life off-camera and prior to her arrival on the national stage, and still nothing about Obama’s except what he chose to include in his vanity autobiographies.

    In the case of Obama, he had his honeymoon period in office like everyone. It WAS creepy how the country projected messianic expectations on him at first, but that was not created by the media. … “I’d be curious to see what scandal you think [Obama’s] “gotten away with”…”

    1. Google ‘Obama messiah’ and see the MSM images and narratives carefully put before the country prior to the 2008 election.

    2. Operation Fast and Furious has been ignored by the overwhelming majority of the MSM (except CBS), despite 2 dead Feds, 200+ dead Mexican civilians, and an utterly dishonest official narrative about the reasons for a program, supposedly to ‘track’ illegal arms sales to Mexican drug cartels, that forced said illegal sales to occur yet ordered(!) the sold arms not to be tracked. Fast and Furious either constituted numerous felony offenses if unauthorized, or else (at least) an act of war against Mexico if it was authorized. (It’s a sad day when the most logical explanation that fits the known facts is an Administration conspiracy to facilitate gun violence in order to foment hostility toward part of the Constitution.)

  • Mark Shea

    Lizzie:

    I think the substance of your post is perfect, but the title is wrong. You should have titled it, “What Herman Cain can’t say, but I can”. What you say is all true. Only Cain can’t say it because he need to stick to the question, “Are the charge, in fact, true”. You however have perfect freedom to point out the gross hypocrisy of the media.

  • Klaire

    Elizabeth that was awesome! So awesome in fact, you alone could save Herman Cain, me thinks! :)

  • friscoeddie

    Watch the ‘debates’ tonight and see if the candidate who dropped the dime on Cain will drop the hammer on his foot. my bet is it will be Newt or Perry.

  • http://getirshelp.com/why-hire-us.htm Tax Problem Lawyer

    I truly enjoy Herman Cain. It is unfortunate that these people can come out of the woodwork and level these accusations against him. No matter what party you are part of no one deserves to be falsly accused. I don’t know if he did it or not but it seems very odd.

  • kmk

    Bobby Jindal 2016!!!!!

  • Greta

    The MSM is on the side of the Democratic Party PERIOD. It in essence is the propaganda arm of that party. All the major networks are in the tank for the Democrats, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, etc as well as the NY Times and Washington Post, AP, Reuters, and UPI. Of course these sources also find their way into newspapers and TV in all the local markets.

    One station, FOX, attempts to present the entire story with a fair conservative point of view and it gets hammered by the entire left because that station trounces the liberal monopoly. Heck, even PBS which gets federal money is in the tank for the Democrats.

    I think it is well past time for the Republican Party to simply acknowledge this as fact and thus treat the media as an arm of the opposing party and stop trying to win them over or treat them as actual unbiased media. When it comes time to press briefings, debates, etc, negotiate for equality which means that they do not set up each of the democratic liberal media channels like they are seperate entities. In other words, no CBS moderated debate followed by one with CNN and then NBC. If the Dems get their folks to moderate one, then the next one should be moderated by Rush Limbaugh or Shawn Hannity. We would get a lot better balance and a lot more interesting questions.

    Also, the Republicans should establish with a massive ad blitz showing clips to show how one side biased the media is and challenge them if they are not biased to cover the following stories with a list they are ignoring or not covering fairly. What Elizabeth has written here would be a good example. Stop playing the game with these media outlets and take off the gloves. McCain in the last election I do not think ever got over he was not the darling of the media. Bob Dole never got this point across. Both had been treated with some respect in the Senate by the media until they actually were running against the media owner, the Democratic Party. Bush the first with Lee Atwater took it to the media and the Democrats but after Lee died, Bush the first ran a horrible campaign the second time and lost. The Democrats use the media and in fact depend on it to cover up for all their mistakes. This needs to be pointed out very clearly early on and challenged. If it continues in the campaign, hammer it home and challenge the people to go out to vote and show the media that their bias will not be rewarded. I remeber a rally where Bush mentioned a particular reported and said he was an A hole and the vice president said big time. One hell of a lot of people in this country agreed with them.

  • Richard Johnson

    Cain really needs to stop helping himself this way. On “fair and balanced” Fox News he delivers yet another version of a story about one alleged harassment incident.

    http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/10/31/cain-reveals-details-sexual-harassment-charges?intcmp=obinsite

    Greta, if Cain can’t stop shooting himself in the foot, why shouldn’t the media report it?


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