By Roland S. Martin
If you’re Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Brent Bozell, Sean Hannity, and yes, even Herman Cain, you must feel pretty stupid for trying to fool the American people by blaming the reporting on sexual harassment complaints against the GOP presidential candidate on his race.
Cain has tried to make his surprising presidential run to be about anything but race. He has chided other African-Americans for blaming their circumstances on race, has blasted black voters for being “brainwashed” for voting for Democrat, and he has garnered applause from his mostly white audiences by lighting into identity politics.
Yet when faced with the most serious dilemma of his campaign, Cain looked like the boy crying wolf by saying there was a racial element in the reporting of sexual harassment allegations against him while heading the National Restaurant Association. He even tried to invoke the “high-tech lynching” comment made famous by Justice Clarence Thomas when he was going through his Senate confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Cain has shown such a racial knee-jerk reaction before. He tried to nail Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart with the racist tag after a comedic bit on The Daily Show. Even other Republicans found his comments to be confusing.
To suggest that the reporting of the sexual harassment allegations was racially based, and that any other candidate running for the highest office in the land would never have to undergo such scrutiny is wrong. I bet Sen. John Kerry wouldn’t mind sharing a thing or two with Cain after he was brutally beat down with the Swift Boat allegations, including millions spent on television and radio ads.
President Clinton was almost down and out prior to the New Hampshire primary after stories came out with allegations about extramarital affairs. The right wing had a field day with Gennifer Flowers and her tales of sexual trysts.
There is no doubt Mitt Romney didn’t like it in 2008 when he was hit with allegations of employing illegal immigrants. He had to weather that storm then, and even now, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised the issue during the CNN GOP debate in Las Vegas.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, as well as during most of his tenure, I have cautioned folks who were quick to say that President Obama’s race is the primary reason for the amount of criticism leveled at him.
When citing photos of him as an African chief and other racially charged posters at Tea Party rallies, or emails sent out by various GOP officials in several states that had racial overtones, I absolutely blasted those. Racial animus was clear. But even Cain had to confess on Fox News that while he thought race was a factor in the sexual harassment allegations surfacing, he couldn’t prove it.
What Cain must accept is that when you run for president of the United States, you should expect to get a heavy dose of scrutiny, especially when you’re sitting at the top of many polls.
If Cain wants to blame anyone for this fiasco, he should look in the mirror and at his campaign staff. Politico gave them a 10-day heads up on the story, and they were still unable to have a credible response. Then Cain gave conflicting answers to whether he knew about a settlement, muddying the waters even more.
Then Cain hits the Perry camp for spreading the rumor, and a day later, he and his campaign manager had to backtrack.
Bottom line: The economy will be the top issue in the 2012 election, and not whether Cain sexually harassed anyone. But this issue speaks to Cain’s credibility and character, and when the American people are making a decision about entrusting someone to be commander-in-chief, you can bet that matters, and not his race.