(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – Ah, for the good old days of Bill Clinton when bimbo eruptions came with names, dates, places, faces and, more importantly, they turned out to be true.
The aforementioned bimbo eruptions (as they were called by Clinton staffers) culminated with the President telling the nation, that “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
Turned out that he had and, in fact, it had occurred in the oval office.
I’m going through this bit of history because of the parallels to the case of Herman Cain.
There are none.
Except for the fact that at the end of the day, the nation as a whole cared a lot less than did the talking heads and, even though Clinton was the first President to be impeached and go to a Senate trial since Andrew Johnson, he won by a wide margin.
Killing off Herman Cain’s candidacy is something in which both the Republican establishment and the Democrats are united.
The GOP “wise men” have already selected Mitt Romney because it is his turn like John McCain and Bob Dole before him. They want nothing to interfere with the potential influence they can peddle during a potential Romney administration.
The Democrats are scared to death of a populist black guy running against their hard left hero who must read everything from a teleprompter and has made a mess of the job because that guy might carry a third of the black vote in which case he wins.
Both of those groups have forgotten than elections are not won in Washington, New York or Los Angeles.
Last week, I had the privilege of driving about a quarter of a lap of America when I flew from Reno to Chicago and drove my father’s car back from Peoria, Illinois to Reno. (At age 86, he now has a chauffer.)
That’s 1,805 miles and it included overnights in Omaha and Laramie as well as countless coffee shops and truck stop restaurants over three days when I had lots of chances to do my unscientific but generally accurate assessment of America’s sentiment at the moment.
In Iowa, where I stopped for gas and something to eat, I talked with folks who see Cain as the only candidate who piques their interest. That should tell you something, considering that Iowa hosts the nation’s first caucus.
In Omaha, I talked with several white, 50ish women working at a warehouse where I needed to buy something for one of our radio stations. I asked them what they thought of Cain and they all replied in unison, enthusiastically, “I’d vote for him today!”
The hotel desk clerk in Wyoming had the same take and she went so far as to say that she thought that the charges against Cain are “fake”.
After 40 years in this business, that is certainly how they feel to me.
There are too many people who would benefit from derailing a Cain candidacy and the American public in flyover country is not stupid. We understand that even the talking heads from Fox News Channel are not without their biases. We understand that just like Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes had a ring of truth to them, these charges have a ring of falsehood. Maybe a small kernel of truth. That being it is a hell of a lot more cost effective for a huge organization like the National Restaurant Association to give someone who makes baseless charges three months pay (a five figure settlement if they are making $5,000 a month) and agree to a confidentiality agreement than litigate. And who knew that the former CEO may choose to run for President 15 years later?
The big charge that the media keeps bringing is that Cain and his campaign handled the charges in an amateurish fashion.
In some ways that makes his denials more believable to those who pay attention.
Would you rather have an amateur campaigner and a professional manager as President or a professional campaigner and a woefully amateur President, like we have now?
Can Cain’s candidacy still crash and burn? Can these charges do it?
But it will require more than the best efforts of what passes for intelligentsia in Washington.
It will require folks in places like Omaha, Des Moines, Laramie and Elko to change their minds about him.