Herman Cain was awfully lucky last night. Were it not for Rick Perry’s “oops” moment, much of the political world’s discussion today would be over his own remarkably bad debate performance.
For example, Cain was asked about the sexual-harassment allegations that have surfaced over the last couple of weeks. It led to this remark:
“I value my character and my integrity more than anything else. And for every one person that comes forward with a false accusation, there are probably, there are thousands who would say none of that sort of activity ever came from Herman Cain.”
This was probably a prepared line, and that only makes it worse. Is Cain really counting on his harassment-to-non-harassment ratio to make himself look better? “Sure,” he seemed to be saying, “I’ve been accused by several women. But there are plenty of women who haven’t accused me.”
It’s a bit like an accused car thief telling the police, “Just think about all the cars I came across that I didn’t steal.”
Let me make this easy for Cain: boasting about your former employees that haven’t accused you of misconduct isn’t exculpatory.
Later, in the same debate, Cain was referencing a piece of health care legislation he supports. He added:
“We didn’t hear about it in the previous Congress because Princess Nancy sent to it committee and it stayed there. It never came out.”
Here’s another tip for Cain: when you’re accused of mistreating several women in the workplace, misogynistic derision of the former Speaker of the House probably isn’t a good idea. (Cain later said it was “a statement that I probably should not have made,” but the damage was done.)
Also note, these were some of the more memorable moments, but the rest of the debate was nearly as cringe-inducing for Cain. He was largely incoherent in response to every question.
As Jonathan Bernstein put it, “Whether it’s not knowing that China has nuclear weapons, or repeatedly botching his own position on abortion, or any of a number of other gaffes, Cain has made Perry look like a well-briefed genius throughout the campaign. And Wednesday night, he was even worse.”
Perry’s screw-up will get most of the attention, much to Cain’s relief, but that doesn’t change the fact that he keeps getting worse, too.