Culture — 03 December 2011
Herman Cain Suspends Campaign: What His Implosion Teaches Us About America

Today, we heard The Decision….and no, it had not a thing to do with LeBron James.

Herman Cain, the one-time Republican candidate juggernaut, pulled his fedora out of the ring after several allegations of sexual harassment during a former National Restaurant Association position and, most recently, damning proof he had an (at best) oddly close friendship with an attractive  woman named Ginger White unbeknownst to his wife.

And like all good politicos, the Godfather Pizza CEO knew he had to stand down.

The following are not partisan observations.  Herman Cain, though clearly successful and admirable from a business perspective, is not a man I would vote for.  But in his run, he taught us a thing or three about America.  Some good, some bad.  Here it goes:

1.  We are not post-racial.

It’s great we live in a country where we have a black president and a Republican frontrunner who also is black.  Not because I vote for people on the basis of melanin, but because we should always have a diverse field of candidates.  But I found it sad that Cain, even to supporter Ann Coulter, would net remarks like “our blacks are better than your blacks” designation.   It was also sad that Mr. Cain all but denied the huge impact of racism, up until it became convenient for him to blame bigotry for his Tiger Woods-esque downfall.

2.  Politics are much too personal.

Though I understand politicians are supposed to be family men/women with sensible, not- too-pretty spouses and toothy, well-behaved kids, there will come a point when we remind ourselves this is a job.  I take no real issue with a pol who cheats on his wife, but handles government business like a champ. Hey, if wifey likes it, I love it.  Yes, there is some truth that a person’s honesty is key, but we aren’t exactly living in the era of Abraham Lincoln.  For someone’s campaign to implode because they had an affair?  Man, his wife is still standing there, so what business is that of ours?  Now, sexual harassment, that’s a horse of a different color.

3.  Catchphrases should be reserved for sitcoms.

9-9-9.  What the hell was Herman Cain talking about?  Yet, it catapulted him to the frontrunner of the race at one point.  Everyone laughed at Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson for coming up with pithy phrases that made for good soundbites, yet this country is still a sucker for a good line.  Speaking of which: I haven’t thrown out running on the “3,2,1, Contact” ticket, by the way.

4.  People cared what ethnicity Ginger White was.  (See #1 above).

Why on earth would a news station take airtime to let its viewers know the race of Cain’s supposed mistress?  What did it matter? Why did the viewers care?

5.  Political wives are an endangered species.

The mild-mannered, behind-the-scenes spouses of these candidates — male and female– should begin to think harder about staying in these seemingly arranged marriages of convenience.  I have to guess the utter humiliation of Cain’s wife finding out from the media he was bankrolling  the lifestyle of another (attractive) woman is not exactly worth the fringe benefits of being with a wealthy, powerful man.  I know the wives of Anthony Weiner, Mark Sanford and, hell, Bill Clinton, can agree.

 

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