Saturday, December 03, 2011

Cain quits, denying everything, Republican playbook in hand

Well, by now you've no doubt heard the news (if you pay any attention at all to U.S. politics): Herman Cain has "suspended" his campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination:

An unapologetic and defiant Herman Cain suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday, pledging that he "would not go away," even as he abandoned hope of winning the Republican nomination. Instead, Mr. Cain announced what he called a "Plan B," continued advocacy of his tax and foreign policy plans.

"As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign," Mr. Cain said. "Because of the continued distractions, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we are not fighters. Not because I'm not a fighter."

First, by suspending his campaign he's not ending it. Which means he still wants money. Let's get that straight. As Marc Ambinder writes in a very good requiem for Cain, "Cain is not ENDING his campaign because he needs to raise money and will get federal matching funds (taxpayer money!) to help him with any debts in January." Is there anyone who still thinks he's a man of integrity?

Second, while he may not be going away, he's pretty much done as any sort of major public figure. He was a joke, most people knew he was a joke, his 9-9-9 tax reform plan was a joke, his foreign policy "views" are a joke, and no one with any sense is going to pay him any attention. (Unless he gets, say, a Fox News or other high-profile right-wing media gig, which remains a possibility -- though I supsect he'll ultimately fade back into obscurity, and sooner rather than later.) It's like when American Idol contestants say they have bright futures, even after they've been voted off the show. (Because the stupid judges unfairly keep telling them they're going far, because they've become celebrities, because their 15 minutes aren't quite over yet.) They don't. With only a few exceptions, they're done.

Third, this all played out so predictably. I actually thought he'd quit after all the harassment stories came out -- and after his numbers declined. Well, his numbers have certainly declined, but it took the Ginger White affair story to be the final straw. No, let me rephrase that. It was in a way the final straw but what it really was was the excuse he needed to get out of the race. He was never going to win the nomination, not with Karl Rove and others pointing out repeatedly that wasn't (and isn't) up to the job, and with his rivals (and even some of his friends) basically treating him like a moron with silly ideas and waiting for his time to be up (which they all knew was coming, which is why they never really bothered to go negative on him), and he was really only a contender for a brief time, but he had become a major figure in the GOP and needed the right time to get out with at least some of his credibility (at least among conservatives) still intact. That right time was today.

Fourth, please note that, like countless Republicans before him, he played the victimization card while blaming others for his troubles and refusing once again to take any responsibility for his actions. He keeps denying any and all wrongdoing regarding the multiple allegations of harassment and Ms. White's 13-year affair claim, and, again using the Republican playbook, lashes out at the media (i.e., the messenger), just like his pal Newt does.

So he talks about "continued distractions," though of course the only distraction has been the truth coming out and revealing just what sort of a person he is. And he talks about his and his family's "continued hurt" caused by others, but the real hurt isn't the revelation of the truth, the reporting of it in the media, but what he himself has done over the years to others. You want hurt? How about the women he mistreated, including Ms. White, whom he presumably kicked to the curb when she was no longer useful to him (i.e., when he decided to run for president)? How about the hurt he caused to his wife? How about the hurt he caused to his supporters, to all those people who took him at his word and actually believed he was a good man worthy of their support? Oh, no matter, it seems. Cain apparently thinks he's done nothing wrong. And that makes him a pathologically self-righteous thug.

The slow self-destruction of Herman Cain had been playing out for a long time.


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