Cain, not sex, will sink Cain

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 11/15/2011, 9:27 a.m.

Cain, not sex, will sink Cain

GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain was emphatic when asked at his Scottsdale, Ariz. press conference whether he’d drop out of the race over the lengthening sexual harassment charges against him. “No way,” he said.

He’s right about sexual harassment not being the torpedo that will sink his presidential hopeful ship. But he’s wrong about his candidacy’s eventual sink.

Sexual harassment is a vile, dirty and disgusting business. But it’s also the business more time than not that’s earmarked by he-said- she-said accusations and allegations that are rarely witnessed and verified, has little hard proof and subject to a wide world of interpretation and innuendo.

Scores of prominent men from former President Bill Clinton to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as legions of noted business leaders, athletes, entertainers and would be politicians have been slapped with the label of sexual harasser, and had or been threatened with lawsuits, demands for settlements and payoffs.

But in most cases, Clinton and Thomas being prime examples, the sex charges aren’t enough to sink their careers.

Cain is fresh proof of that. During the first days of the scandal he bagged more campaign dollars than he had previously and polls showed that his support didn’t slip much downward. Cain, like the others that have been slapped with the tag of sexual harasser, did the predictable.

He ducked, dodged, denied, probably lied and then slandered his growing number of accusers. That got lots of press ink and more shrugs from his most impassioned backers. That confirms why Cain soared to the top and stayed at or near the top of the GOP heap of presidential candidates in the first place.

He has remained there even with the sex scandal dogging his every step for cynical practical and political reasons. He provides feel good relief for Tea Party leaders and followers and ultra-conservatives that have been pounded from pillar to post with the charge that they’re racist and hateful baiters of any and every thing black, starting with their favorite target President Barack Obama.

The wild-eyed backing Cain’s gotten from them in straw polls in conservative bastions in the Deep South seemed to refute the notion that they’re a cabal of unreconstructed bigots.

He’s a businessman, and not a career politician. In this era of rabid public loathing and disgust of politicians, Cain is like the proverbial man on the White Horse who can make everything in the Beltway right by bringing his brand of corporate time clock efficiency to the White House.

He brings wit, a crude charm, and most importantly entertainment to what has been a dull, lackluster, and pedestrian field of GOP hacks, retreads, and borderline zanies that have plopped themselves before GOP voters as the men and women who can take out Obama. None of them before Cain dashed onto the scene registered much of a pulse beat among the GOP rank and file.

Cain appeared to be the most effective among the GOP presidential contenders in posing as the ABR (anybody but Mitt Romney) alternative. The Iowa poll conducted by the Des Moines Register in which Cain ran neck and neck with him among GOP voters reconfirmed that Romney has what’s charitably called “serious vulnerabilities” meaning that ultra conservatives don’t like him and what they perceive he represents. These are the voters that are most likely to vote in the official Iowa GOP Caucus in January and they said that they were three times more likely to back Cain over Romney.