Minute Sixteen and Counting (Updated)
I wasn’t going to blog anymore about Herman Cain, but I cannot let this go without comment:
Mark Block, chief of staff for the Cain campaign, laid the blame for the leaks about the allegations about Cain squarely at the Perry campaign’s feet in an interview today.
“The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable,” Block told Fox News tonight. “Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology. Both the Rick Perry campaign andPolitico did the wrong thing by reporting something that wasn’t true from anonymous sources. Like I said, they owe Herman Cain and his family an apology.”
Asked if he had any evidence, Block mentioned the fact that Cain had told Curt Anderson (who now works for Perry) about the accusations during his 2004 senate run. Cain accused Anderson earlier today; Anderson denied that he was.
As with every other aspect of his campaign, Herman Cain has been unable to address this situation in anything resembling a coherent manner. I could let that pass, but instead of addressing the issue – or even not addressing it – the Cain camp decides to avert attention away from this mess by hurling unsubstantiated claims against one of his Republican rivals. Could the Perry camp have leaked the information? It’s certainly possible, but it just as likely could have been the Romney camp. Or, and here’s a wild guess, someone did a little digging and came across a publicly available story.
Look, I don’t know if there’s anything more to the original story than that it was a misunderstanding. But Cain is doing himself no favors by reacting as wildly as he is. First he played the race card. If he had been a Democrat conservatives would have collectively rolled their eyes, and yet some conservatives, including one that I highly respect, are willing to indulge this fantasy. And now this.
What’s sickening is not just the man’s basic ineptitude, it’s that he is inspiring the same kind of blind loyalty to a cult of personality that we mock Democrats for with regards to Barack Obama. And for what? A candidate who has nothing to offer except a silly campaign slogan that is, for the record, politically unworkable. A candidate who couldn’t even win a Senate primary in Georgia, of all states. Ah, but he sounds so authentic.
And therein lies the problem with the conservative movement. Mitt Romney is the establishment candidate, and we hate the establishment. So our counter-reaction to the establishment is to rally around the guy who mouths the most platitudes, all the while ignoring the substance. It’s like watching the Hot Air blog come to life. The main contributors are a collection of mealy-mouthed wimps who fear the rise of genuinely conservative candidates. On the other hand, the commenters are a collection of raving “THIS GOES TO 11!!!!!!!!” “purists” who make the Free Republic look like a haven of logical thought. It’s something behold, but it’s also a sad reflection on the conservative movement as we seem constantly to have to choose between raving psychosis and stultifying boredom.
What’s even funnier about the Cain dead-enders is envisioning their reaction when he drops out and turns around to endorse Mitt Romney. But at least we would have beaten the guy who said “heartless” in a debate that one time. Good job. Look what happens when the search for purity leads to the nomination of the most impure candidate.
Then again, not everyone is turning a blind eye to Cain’s collapsing campaign. Even his biggest booster in the blogosphereis starting to sound a little worried.
The fact that Chris Wilson works for a firm that has been associated with Rick Perry’s campaign may confirm widespread suspicions about the origin of Sunday’s Politico story, but as matters now stand, such speculation is irrelevant to whether Cain can survive this. Whatever the motives of the Politico sources, Cain’s fate depends on the specifics of the accusation and the credibility of his accuser.
Then again, knowing the spitefulness that guides certain people, he’ll only ascend in the polls.
Update: FWIW, here is Eric Erickson’s interview with Perry, in which he firmly denies having anything to do with leaking the story. Notice that despite the umms and ahhs, it doesn’t take a team of detectives to figure out what Perry is saying.