The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Herman Cain Under the Bus? ‘No Wonder We’re So Well and Truly F–ked’

Posted on | November 9, 2011 | 62 Comments

“I write for money. And so far, nobody’s offered to pay me to save the world.”
Robert Stacy McCain, May 5, 2008

Mike Hendrix at Cold Fury has an excellent round-up about the argument among conservatives about how we should react to the accusations against Herman Cain. And in that round-up, Mike cites Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom:

We’re living through an attempted coup. And our major worry seems to be how well Herman Cain’s staff is handling suggestions that he once made a pass at a woman. Who waited 16 years to hold a press conference about it.
No wonder we’re so well and truly f–ked.

Indeed, and we can boil the argument down to its essence: What is the object of the game? To win. Period, end of sentence.

Our Guy is in a fight, getting pounded like hell by our common enemy and, instead of sitting around wringing our hands about the niceties of tactics, we ought to be jumping into the fight and pounding the hell out of Our Guy’s attackers. Whatever the ultimate fate of Our Guy, we cannot rally people to our cause by appearing to be weak.

Weakness is not an attractive quality, in politics or anything else, and it is an error in political combat to worry about making the “smart” argument when what is needed is a winning argument, or at least a gesture of solidarity and a show of force that lets our opponents understand that we’re not a bunch of gutless weaklings.

Nothing is more dangerous in political punditry than the temptation to be “smart” rather than being strong. Granting the intellectual’s natural desire to be seen as insightful and consistent, there are times in politics when pragmatism and strategic necessity require the pundit to suppress such concerns long enough to make the crude and cynical calculation: “How can we win?” or even, “Never mind winning, how can we inflict maximum damage on our opponent in this fight?”

Understand that I do not mean to accuse anyone of insincerity in their arguments, or of trying to curry favor with the proverbial “Georgetown cocktail party circuit.”  Quite the opposite, I suspect some conservative intellectuals have succumbed to the same error that I attributed to Conor Friedersdorf in May 2008: Insufficient cynicism:

If you want to save the world, join the Peace Corps or become a missionary. If you want to be a professional journalist, stick to the facts, mind your grammar, hit your deadlines, and try to write something that somebody might actually want to read.

Nobody’s paying me for the correctness of my opinions, OK? Everybody’s got opinions and any random reader’s opinion about the Herman Cain controversy is as valid as my own, except for the fact that I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time covering politics and have known Herman Cain since 2007.

Maybe I’m completely wrong. Maybe Cain is guilty as hell and would be, as Ace says, a “godawful candidate” for Republicans to nominate. But it occurs to me, if it occurs to no one else, that beating the GOP Establishment with this “godawful candidate” would signify that the conservative grassroots aren’t going to be shoved around anymore. And I do not accept the argument (frequently made by the “smart” pundits) that Mitt Romney would be a safer nominee than Cain.

Romney is the “prevent defense” candidate, the guy who expects to win by playing not to lose. Perhaps that’s the smart bet, but my gut hunch it that a charismatic populist like Cain would be more likely to defeat Obama than the bland centrist Romney.

Your mileage may vary, and it would be wrong for me to take it personally when other people refuse to go along with my gut hunches. Maybe other people do take it personally, so it was amusing to see that Mike at Cold fury called attention to a rare foray into pure politics by Dr. Helen Smith, cross-posted at PJ Media, where she wielded the knife against fellow PJM’er Andrew Klavan:

Bulls–t. What Klavan is advocating is political suicide.

Read the whole thing. For the InstaWife to be calling b.s. on Klavan is the kind of internecine feud where it’s always more fun to be a spectator than a participant. “Let’s you and him fight,” as folks say down home. And speaking of fun . . . 

My elbowing of Ace of Spades caused some commenters to start trashing Ace, which wasn’t my intention and isn’t helpful. While it is my general belief that anyone who disagrees with me is wrong, this is not the same as saying that anyone who disagrees with me is a bad person. So I felt the need to clarify in a comment:

Look, I’m not hating on Ace. I love Ace. I just think he’s as objective about Herman Cain as I am, which is to say, not at all.
So here we have two admittedly subjective reactions: Me, who was pumping the Cain campaign before there was even a campaign, and Ace who never really took to Cain, even when Cain was looking like a winner. Readers are free to make their own judgments, but there is no reason to demonize Ace just because you love Cain and, by the same token, there’s no need for anyone who hates Cain to demonize me.
Our subjectivity — so long as we ‘fess up to it — should not detract from your enjoyment of our blogging as sheer spectacle. People need to lighten up and get over the victory-or-death fanatical view of the primary campaign, which is probably going to seem pretty damned silly in retrospect if, when all is said and done, we find ourselves in August trying to convince America that Mitt Romney is The Only Hope to Save America.
Long ago, in one of my first dust-ups with Conor Friedersdorf, I explained that his basic problem was a deficiency of cynicism. What makes Conor such a pain in the ass is that he is so damnably earnest about politics. You cannot write coherently about politics if you’re going to be a 100% True Believer. You’ve got to dial down your passion and try to appreciate politics as a game, a sort of bread-and-circuses pageant ginned up to fool the people into believing that our government is genuinely democratic. Understanding the extent to which the process is controlled by insiders and influenced by the media, who think of regular voters as a bunch of dumb rubes whose choices can be manipulated almost infinitely, you realize that the best you can reasonably hope for is a chance to f–k up the plans of the Elite — e.g., by ensuring that Elite-anointed candidates like Dede Scozzafava, Charlie Crist and Mike Castle don’t get elected.
To quote my personal hero, Eric Stratton, “Don’t think of it as work. The whole point is just to enjoy yourself.”

Cynical? Of course — and proud of it, because I write for money. And don’t you get your money’s worth? Hit the freaking tip jar!


UPDATE: Linked by Republican Redefined and by William Jacobson at Legal Insurrectionsthanks!


62 Responses to “Herman Cain Under the Bus? ‘No Wonder We’re So Well and Truly F–ked’”

  1. Adjoran
    November 10th, 2011 @ 3:25 am

    If we dismissed every candidate with a flawed plan, there would be no one left.  But he should be dismissed for lying about it.  Even with ten days notice, when confronted with a critical challenge his instinct was to lie to his supporters. 

    I’ll vote for him if he manages to win the nomination.  Cain-Obama is a no brainer, but so is my Lab-Obama.  Our nominee gets my vote as a default position because I am a Republican, not some RINO threatening to stay home or vote for a third party and pretending that’s not the same as a vote for Obama.

    But when I vote in the South Carolina primary in ten weeks, it won’t be for Cain.

  2. Adjoran
    November 10th, 2011 @ 3:30 am

    Maybe I misheard him, then?  or is it you who perceive what you want to perceive and ignore the reality?

    I consider it a lie if he knows it isn’t true but presents it as true
    anyway.  If you need to figure some Clintonian way around his
    falsehoods, that should tell you right there what you need to know.
    So how about these statements from Cain, which I copied from my comments on previous posts?:

    No skeletons in my closet
    Had no idea what story was about, couldn’t prepare
    Accusations baseless
    No settlement that I know of
    Only incident I recall is height of wife story
    Were settlements, but insignificant
    Said no settlements because I thought they were “agreements” (Bill Clinton loves this one)
    Settlements were normal severance pay, two-three months salary
    High tech lynching
    Briefed Curt Anderson on scandals when he worked for me in 2004, he works for Perry and leaked it
    Maybe didn’t brief him
    Perry still did it, maybe Anderson still did it

  3. Adjoran
    November 10th, 2011 @ 3:33 am

    Oh, NOW I get it:  Ted Kennedy was a murderous jerk, so Cain MUST be innocent, even though he lied looking you straight in the eye in a camera.

    Your loyalty is touching, though – almost Ewok cute.

  4. Adjoran
    November 10th, 2011 @ 3:34 am

    Really?  So they paid settlements not to talk about what Axelrod did?

  5. Adjoran
    November 10th, 2011 @ 3:42 am

    I absolutely agree.  But what then caused him to rush about with false statements, even with a ten day warning the story was coming? 

    I do not dispute the fact that sometime innocent men will lie – it is one reason I recommend everyone watch this presentation on why you should NEVER talk to the police without an attorney – I do believe that a innocent man whose inclination was to try to lie his way out of it is not properly qualified to be President.

  6. Adjoran
    November 10th, 2011 @ 3:46 am

    I believe our best bet is to vet every candidate closely, knowing the Obama team is planning the most vicious campaign since 1824, so that Republicans have the best and most extensive knowledge before they vote in their primaries.

    The story is ten days old now.  It may not even be over in extent, how could you know it is?

  7. Bob Belvedere
    November 10th, 2011 @ 7:24 am

    The coincidences are starting to pile-up.

    ‘Curiouser and curiouser’, said Alice.

  8. Bob Belvedere
    November 10th, 2011 @ 7:25 am

    ‘I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole — and yet — and yet — it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life!’ said Alice.

  9. ThePaganTemple
    November 10th, 2011 @ 8:44 am

    A lot of that is just based on a phobia that somebody like Cain can’t pull enough votes from independents and conservative Democrats to win the election, and that he might even lose some moderate Republican voters, especially women. It is a valid concern. Just look at Adjoran. I would imagine there are quite a few moderate Republican women who are very wary of him. Unless Cain manages to put this to rest in reasonable amount of time and in a concise way, it could cost us the election by losing us states like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio. It’s not anything to kid around with.

  10. Bob Belvedere
    November 10th, 2011 @ 9:08 am

    If you know the staff, especially the manager, at a hotel it’s very easy to get the upgrade done as a favor.

  11. Anonymous
    November 10th, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

    That’s evidence of accounting not evidence of wrong doing, if enough people make unproven allegations against Axelrod they can then become a “body of evidence”.

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    November 10th, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

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