I hold no brief for the spectacularly unqualified Herman Cain, but the allegations of sexual harassment aren’t a particularly good reason to count him out as a contender for the GOP presidential nomination. Bill Clinton was elected with allegations of philandering and sexual harassment dogging him throughout his campaign.
Still, the political press is quite excited about the Cain story for obvious reasons — it’s new information, it’s controversial, it’s Monday. But there are so many better reasons to disqualify Cain.
Reason number one: Cain doesn’t know enough to be president. He doesn’t know squat about foreign policy, for example. While he is as happy as any other rightwinger to beat President Obama up on the subject of Israel, a couple of months ago, Cain didn’t even know what the “right of return” is. That’s something that anyone with even a passing knowledge of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians should be familiar with.
Nor does he understand much domestic policy. Like all good rightwingers, he has repeatedly denounced the Affordable Care Act. He goes so far as to claim that he would not have survived colon cancer had the law been in effect when he became ill. But when I interviewed him on the subject several months ago, it was clear he didn’t understand ‘Obamacare.” He was merely repeating cliches he had picked up from Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. Much of what he said about it wasn’t true.
Reason number two: He’s a bigot. He has tried to backpedal on his Muslim-bashing, but it was too late for many to forget that he had ruled out having Muslims in his Cabinet. And, of course, he bashes gays and lesbians.
Reason number three: He’s not running a serious campaign. He has little money and no organization. In Sarah Palin fashion, he isn’t trying to study the issues In an interview, he was arrogant enough to dismiss small Central Asian countries:
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network earlier this month, Cain was asked how he would deal with “gotcha questions” from the media. He replied: “When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say: ‘You know, I don’t know. Do you know?’”
Well, Mr. Cain, before 9/11, Afghanistan was one of those little backward countries most Americans had never heard of. I want a president who is keeping his/her eye on the entire globe — never dismissing any country as too remote and unimportant to know by name.
I would note, before ending, that Clinton was not an ordained minister of the rightwing variety. Herman Cain is — so the story of sexual harassment carries whiffs of hypocrisy with him. But there are so many hypocrites among rightwing preachers that that’s no longer news.