Every good conversationalist knows there are certain topics you avoid when making small talk; religion and politics lead the list. That means I shouldn’t be saying this publicly, but I can’t hold it in anymore: I can’t with Herman Cain.
For starters, Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has absolutely no political experience… pause. Am I the only one who recalls how the GOP went in on the POTUS Barack Obama three years ago, dismissing the one-term Senator as only a “community organizer”? And now they’re betting on a Black man who has no experience? Some folk have real short memories, I guess.
But back to what I was saying. Between Cain nicknaming himself “Cornbread,” denying racism while playing the race card, and calling Blacks who don’t support the conservative agenda “brainwashed,” he’s become a real-live “Chappelle Show” skit. And someway, somehow he’s become a formidable factor in the presidential race. For now.
I add that qualifier because the leading GOP candidate has been under siege since Sunday night when Politico, a Washington, D.C. website, reported that during Cain’s tenure at the National Restaurant Association in the ’90s, two female employees complained about his inappropriate behavior. Both women received financial payouts to leave their jobs and signed agreements that preclude them from talking about their exit.
Cain’s reaction to the sexual harassment allegations has been… baffling. Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank summed up Cain’s missteps nicely in “Herman Cain’s Crack Up”: “Cain denied it. He said the women didn’t understand his humor. He said his accusers fabricated the charges. He said he couldn’t remember the details, and then suddenly he could. He said he had no knowledge of the settlement, and then suddenly recalled some details, which turned out to be vastly understated. He publicly predicted more allegations would surface. He blamed his opponents, he howled about racism, and he accused the media and the entire city of Washington of trying to do him in.”
Milbank left out a part about Cain’s bizarre antics on Monday when Cain, an ordained Baptist minister, ended a press conference with a stirring rendition of the gospel hymn “He Looked Beyond My Fault.” Um, Rev. Cain, that’s how you close out a sermon, not a press conference. (But admittedly, he has a lovely singing voice.)
By yesterday afternoon (hours before a third accuser came forward, as Cain predicted), Cain was a man undone, snapping at reporters who asked about the allegations, “I’m not going to talk about it… so don’t even bother asking me all of these other questions that y’all are curious about. Okay? Don’t even bother!”
Despite the madness, Cain’s supporters aren’t backing away. On Tuesday afternoon, his political action committee accused the media of participating in what they called a “high tech lynching,” evoking the infamous words of Cain’s best-known Black conservative predecessor, Clarence Thomas. Thomas used the phrase to describe the sexual harassment allegations that surfaced against him during his tumultuous confirmation for the Supreme Court in 1991.
What do you think of Herman Cain’s reactions to the sexual harassment allegations?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk