On Monday afternoon, Herman Cain released an unusually long statement in which he excoriated the media (and particularly Politico – which first broke the story of sexual harassment allegations against him) for engaging in a “hatchet job.” In a defiant tone, Mr. Cain declared he would not play by the media’s “rules” because, as he put it, “these rules stink.”
It’s by far the most lengthy, full-throated defense Cain has put forward in response to this whole series of allegations (though it does not address Monday’s press conference by Sharon Bialek). There are now reports that Cain will hold a press conference this afternoon (Tuesday) in Phoenix, to “set the record straight.”
Here is Monday’s statement in full:
“I am a serious person, seeking the opportunity to do a serious and very important job. Our nation has very serious problems, particularly of an economic nature, and Barack Obama does not have the skill, knowledge or will to solve them.
Unfortunately, the media-driven process by which one must seek this opportunity is fundamentally unserious. I have touched on this before – the emphasis on “gaffes,” gotcha questions and time devoted to trivial nonsense – and everyone knows the process only became further detached from relevance this week as the media published anonymous, ancient, vague personal allegations against me.
Once this kind of nonsense starts, the media’s rules say you have to act in a certain way. I am well aware of these rules. And I refuse to play by them.
There are several reasons for this. One is that, lest anyone forget, we actually have serious matters to talk about. Since the media went bananas over this so-called story, my schedule has not changed in the slightest. I have continued to make all planned public appearances. I have continued to answer questions about my 9-9-9 tax reform plan. I have continued to do everything else that our strategy proscribes.
Another reason I refuse to play by these rules is that, by doing it my way, I’m getting much better results. My fundraising has skyrocketed since all this nonsense began. Just this weekend, the Washington Post has come out with a new poll – taken since all this started – showing me in the lead nationally, with my numbers on the rise.
The media may be obsessed with this business, but the voters are not. And I am not.
But there’s another crucially important reason I refuse to play by these rules: These rules stink. Can the process by which we pick the leader of our nation be any more absurd? I’m not talking about the primary process or the role of the electorate. There is nothing wrong with that. I am talking about the media’s trivializing of such an important matter.
Consider: I held various executive positions in corporate America for several decades. I had thousands of employees working for me. I can’t even begin to recall how many conversations I had with people during that time, how many directives I gave, how much friendly banter might have taken place.
I also had to make tough decisions during these years. I turned around a poorly performing region for Burger King, then turned around a struggling Godfather’s Pizza organization. At some point during a career like this, someone will not like things you do, or how you do it. Someone will complain.
That is just the nature of things if you’ve ever done much in your life.
So once the editors of Politico started looking for people who would make claims against me, their chances of finding a few takers were probably about 100 percent. These people will not give their names. The so-called “witnesses” who purportedly corroborated their stories also will not give their names. That’s about what you would expect when people are engaging in a “hatchet job,” as it’s been described by Joseph Fassler, who was chairman of the National Restaurant Association board when I was there.
It’s easy to make accusations when, by virtue of your anonymity, you don’t have to be held accountable for the claims you’re making. It’s easy to publish them when, like Politico, you don’t follow basic rules of journalism by naming your sources or giving any details whatsoever about what supposedly happened.
But the process by which we choose our presidents has become so warped that, when something like this happens, the media and political strategists start grading you on whether you play an absurd game by their absurd rules.
When someone stops you on the street and hits you with an accusation like this, they subsequently write a story about the look in your eyes, and how many seconds it took you to speak some words in response. They go to “crisis management experts” who offer the usual sage wisdom about “getting all the information out” – as if you can get any “information” out (aside from telling them nothing happened, which they don’t want to hear) in response to allegations that are unsourced and nonspecific.
Then, when you haven’t “calmed the firestorm” – if only because the people wielding the blow-torches have no intention of putting them out – more experts are put on the air to say this proves you are “not ready for prime time.”
Maybe that would matter if I was trying out for the cast of Saturday Night Live. But this should be a slightly more serious undertaking than that.
Contrary to the belief of experts, so wise and learned in the ways of politics, I do know what the established rules say I am supposed to do. I simply refuse to do it. That’s because the rules are ridiculous, and they produce leaders like Barack Obama, who play the political game like experts but govern like complete incompetents.
The nation needs its tax structure reformed, its spending brought under control, its debt reduced and its overall governing structure made far more responsive to the needs of the people. The nation needs many other problems addressed. If it’s OK with the American people, I would like to address them.
If the media want to continue talking about nonsense, that’s fine. I’m not going to join them. It doesn’t look like the citizenry plans to join them either.”