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Cain’s mistake?

Cain’s mistake?

In tagging Rick Perry with the “painted-over rock” allegation without first learning the facts?

Yes, I think so.  It certainly is fine to point out that the name was offensive, but to suggest that Perry somehow was responsible was a bridge too far (transcript via MVOPOV):

WALLACE: I want to ask you, there is a troubling story on the front page of “The Washington Post” today about Rick Perry, governor of Texas, and it indicates that for years, his family had a hunting camp in west Texas and the name of it written on a stone was N-head. But, obviously, it wasn’t just N-head.

CAIN: Right.

WALLACE: And he was part of that camp even as governor.

Your reaction, sir?

CAIN: My reaction is, that’s just very insensitive. That is on a much — that is in a more vile negative word than the N-word and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted it over is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.

I will chalk this up to Cain not being alert to the media’s (even Fox New’s) desire to create news on these shows.

Prof. Reynolds points out:

I think that Herman Cain hurts himself by joining in on these attacks.  His big appeal is that he’s not just another black race-card-playing politician.  Climbing on board with the Post’s hit piece suggests that actually, he is.  It reminds me of Tim Pawlenty’s weak and opportunistic reaction to the attacks on Sarah Palin.  I think that’s what killed his campaign.  If you side with the media establishment against other Republicans, you won’t help yourself in this election cycle.

What goes around comes around.  Defend one and defend all when the media plays the race card, the extremist card, or any of the other cards in their deck.

Update:  Cain clarifies:


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In fairness, the way that Wallace asked the question seems to indicate that the story as “reported” by the post is accurate:

“…and it indicates that for years, his family had a hunting camp in west Texas and the name of it written on a stone was N-head…”

If by the time Cain interviewed with Wallace he has not read the story, he had no way of knowing if what was being reported is true or not. You can fault him for being unprepared
for that line of questioning and for not giving perry the benefit or the doubt though…

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Ulises. | October 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    I understand Cain is busy, but he does like to answer questions the answer to which he does not know. He’s a very bright man and he should know that that makes him look foolish. This particular response will make people wonder if we have another version of Obama. I like Cain, and I want him to get the facts first before he responds to any media questions about anything, and his fellow GOPers in particular.

MomInLatteland | October 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Herman’s Cain mistake here is in accepting the premise of the question/comment. It is truly surprising that Newt Gingrich is not doing better as he keeps showing the other candidates how it should be done:
1. Have a true grasp on the issues (no one is coming close)
2. Call out the questioner (journalist, debate moderator, etc) for asking a biased question
3. Turn the question around so that the truth is then told.
4. Never, ever side with the media against one of the other candidates.

I think Cain should say that he accepted the facts as Wallace stated them, being unfamiliar himself with the controversy before that, and that having learned the facts are other than Wallace suggested he apologizes to Perry and states he will in future be far more leery of press characterizations of events about which he has no independent knowledge.

    syn in reply to clarice. | October 3, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    A Republican presidential is not yet aware that all media (including Fox News) have a history of manipulating the narrative in order to drive their story?

    Perhaps those eight years of media manipulation during the Bushco years and the four years of media manipulation under ObamaCo have not yet provided enough evidence for Americans to understand they’re the bamboozed?

    That said; what is the difference between electing a President who never held a private sector job in his life whatsoever and electing a President who never held a public service job in his life whatsoever?

      RWGinger in reply to syn. | October 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Herman Cain was the chariman of the Federal Reserve bank in kansas city which is a quasi public service job and certainly gave HC some experience in the federal economy

      But your meaning/ comparison is quite vaild

He could have score major points by explaining that the controversy could have been distorted or entirely made up by the media, but IF it WAS true, then he certainly doesn’t approve. Emphasis on the distortions and lies told by the mainstream media. Would they print it? Maybe? Would most people (conservatives) agree this is true? Yes. I’ve never heard a candidate besides Palin call them out.

    My support for Palin ended when she resigned. I’m not rethinking at this time, but I have to admit she is looking better by default.

      hrh40 in reply to gs. | October 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      Watch “The Undefeated.” It has a whole section on what happened when Palin returned after the election.

      Also listen to Todd Palin’s interview last night with Stephen Bannon:

      He explains some of the connections between the Obama WH, e.g., Pete Rouse, and Alaska politics. To that, I would add another WH operative, Anita Dunn, who was Tony Knowles’ campaign operative when he ran against Palin for Governor in 2006.

      Your statement is EXACTLY what Rouse/Dunn/Emmanuel/Obama wanted to have happen.

      Don’t let them manipulate you.

      Please rethink your support.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to gs. | October 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      Oh, you were a 2008 supporter! Well, since her resignation, she’s been writing about and speaking out on all the major issues of the day. You’ll be happy to know she’s been proven to be 100% right on all of them. Moreover, she’s consistently criticized Obama and the media (maybe that’s where Newt got the gumption from), brought the GOP victory in the house with her selection of candidates, and could have brought them the Senate, too, if the RINO’s had been supportive. Plus, the media conducted a colorectal on her, via 25,000+ pieces of email and discovered, oh horror, that she was a bright, ethical, hardworking, and very likable governor who has a consistent political philosophy and who s genuinely Conservative. The result of their colorectal was a very prompt abandonment of their shovels cuz there was no dirt to be found. Finally, the woman you stopped supporting in 2009 is the most vetted candidate in American history, with a proven track record of accomplishment (did more in three years than most governors have done in eight), with a proven track record of reform, and a deep passion for constitutional governance.

I concur with Ulises and Clarice above. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Mr. Cain prefaced his answer with the language of “If what I’ve been told is correct….” With the current “Gotcha” media, they’re ALWAYS going to misquote and drop that language, but Cain can point to it if he actually said it.

Further, the “anonymous” sources made for heavy accusations. And it’s entirely possible that even though the name of the camp was painted over on the rock 30 years ago, it could have still been slightly visible through the paint, which would make the original lame stream media story technically true but highly misleading (which is their stock-in-trade).

This is all about trying to damage Perry. At this point, the press and the Liberals are terrified that Perry will start to do well and once he gets some steam that he will be unstoppable as a candidate. Yes, Perry has had some debate gaffes, missteps and poor performances, but he’s also somewhat of a slow-starter in campaigning. He’s blunt, reasonably unpolished and plain spoken. But he generates a level of “I’m a straight-shooter” trust that he’s going to tell it like he thinks it is, without artifice or deception for political points. Once he gets going, he turns into a freight train due to the inertia that his campaigns tend to generate because of that plainspoken demeanor.

Cain should have immediately recognized that the point of the “troubling story” Chris Wallace was referring to was that Rick Perry was somehow a racist. Cain should have then conducted a quick reality check, concluded that it was extraordinarily unlikely that Rick Perry was in fact a racist, and therefore perceived a huge red flag going up, signalling that there was almost certainly a great deal more to this “troubling story” than Chris Wallace had indicated through his question. Only then should Herman Cain have spoken, and said something like this:

“I haven’t read that story so I’m not going to comment on it. I will say that, from my dealings with Governor Perry, he seems like a very good man, although we have our differences on some issues.”

I do think this hurts Cain, not necessarily because it makes him look like “just another black politician” or whatever, but because it shows bad judgment. To be president, I would think a person needs to have a pretty good ear for BS and not simply jump to conclusions about something based on a narrow retelling of the “facts.”

Cain should have understood instictively, given the subject matter of the controversy, that his reaction to WP story would be considered more “authoritative,” if you will, than that of another (non-black) candidate. All the more reason to exhibit some restraint and circumspection before appearing to come down on one side or the other.

I’m a recovering democrat, and I do like and respect Cain. However this really disappointed me, because Mr.Cain fell for how the LSM potrayed this story. He should know that the LMS is a leftist organization, ALL of it, heck I was called a racist because I supported Hillary in 2008.

However, that being said, if in the next debate, Mr.Cain on stage apologizes to Perry and rips into the LSM, he will gain tremendous number of new supporters, because he will have shown himself to be someone who if made a mistake, can admit it, learn from it and move on.

Part of the reason I liked Cain from the last debate, is because he, like Newt, did not bash the other repub candidate, he focused on Obama, not really on the other candidates. But if Cain is going down this road of falling for the LSM narrative, then I will have to rethink my opinion and support of him.
As of now, I’m feeling pretty sorry for what’s been thrown at Perry, and I do like much of Perry’s policies in terms of a limited fically conservative fed govt.

I hope Cain understands what the LSM did to him using the Wash. Post to do their bidding, apologizes to Perry and goes after the media. He will gain so much support if he does. People in America, the independent minded ones, are fair minded people, they want to see a fair minded candidate.

Cain has to learn something that is hard for us in the real world to do: Be very aware that the media doesn’t give a c**p about truth or accuracy; what they want is headlines and market share. They WILL try to get you to say stupid things, failing that they WILL edit what you actually say to make it look stupid or controversial. Once I was interviewed for four hours; I made one silly statement which became the entire story. NEVER assume that the facts as related by a media person are accurate. If you personally don’t know the facts beyond a reasonable doubt then treat it as a hypothetical, or better yet, give Conrad’s answer above.

Most of us, in our daily lives, deal with people that are operating in good faith. If they ask us what we think about the sun rising in the West this AM, we assume that the sun actually did rise in the West. Pretty astounding thing, big reaction. It does not occur to us that they are trying to get us to say something stupid about which direction the sun rose. Because that doesn’t happen much in the real world.

Google Gell-Mann Amnesia or see

Cowboy Curtis | October 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm

“…and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted it over is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

Kind of indicates he had some degree of familiarity with the story. If so, it was a cheap shot. One has to assume that when presidential candidates are making the rounds on the Sunday morning shows, they and their staff make sure to have looked over the major papers that morning, particularly as it relates to their competitors.

If he was unfamiliar with it, or was only vaguely briefed by staffers, its only slightly less bad. The only thing Republican voters hate more than Democrats and the media waving the racist stick at a Republican is another Republican who joins in.

The proper answer to a tar-brush race question like this on the first morning of the story is “The story just came out, I’m not familiar with all the facts, but I’m giving my opponent every benefit of the doubt until the evidence indicates I should do otherwise.” That’s the answer for any candidate against any opponent. That answer makes you look magnanimous and classy, and keeps you from stepping in it. These half-assed gotcha stories are bear-traps that, as happened in this case, are as likely to catch the questioned candidate as the targeted party. A more experienced politician would know this. (Notice none of the other Republican candidates, all of whom have previously run for office, touched the story.) This applies to democrat primary candidates as well as republicans in any stage of the race. However, once a candidate has secured the Democrat nomination for a given office, he may discard this rule without fear of consequence.

This was the definition of a rookie mistake, and a particularly bad one at that. Which is the biggest problem I have with Cain (who on straight up policy I think I agree with more than any other candidate): Every time he gets a little momentum and starts to convince me he’s ready for the big show, he sticks his foot in his mouth.

One thing that I try to do, before criticizing someone, is to get in their mind, if I can. In this situation, I have the side with Cain. He likely views Perry as I do, that is a false conservative who is trying to take over the party with false credentials. Thus, he already has a prejudice against the guy. They you throw in a story that does not make sense and you are under pressure to answer a question out of the blue. You have to continue to appeal to blacks, so any reference to the n word has to be met with condemnation. To do otherwise, he would immediately get labeled as a Tom. That would be far worse than a minor stumble that will be forgotten in one week. I support Cain, he is a real conservative and has proven himself. Perry is not a conservative and as far as I can see, he is another Bush.

What more could Cain have done, than preface his remarks with “If what I’ve been told is correct….” ?

The next step is the follow-up. Next time he gets asked a question out-of-the blue, where the reporter sets up the question, he should pull a Ben Franklin, and talk about the lesson involved in getting taken in by a rock. (Franklin’s was “don’t pay too much for that whistle.”)

    Cowboy Curtis in reply to Valerie. | October 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    See my comment above, the second to last paragraph. That’s the answer you give, regardless of candidate, regardless of party. It makes you look good, it keeps you out of trouble.

“My support for Palin ended when she resigned.”
I noticed you jumped on my Palin statement, rather than what the majority of my statement was about : dishonesty in media. Why is that, and what are you going to do if Palin ends up the GOP nominee?

Goodness, I wish there was a delete button so I could post this comment where it belongs rather than posting the same comment twice.

DINORightMarie | October 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

“The story just came out, I’m not familiar with all the facts, but I’m giving my opponent every benefit of the doubt until the evidence indicates I should do otherwise.” –Cowboy Curtis

This is the perfect answer. Any one of these drive-by gotcha questions can be answered by this. And, when they ask you again – however many times, a la Katie Couric – then you repeat the answer, until they stop. Then tell them, “Let’s move on!” firmly, nicely, professionally.


    Cowboy Curtis in reply to DINORightMarie. | October 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Like I said above, this whole thing is the biggest problem I have with Cain. Remember in Bull Durham where Crash teaches Ebby his cliches? “I’m just happy to be hear.” “I’m just taking it one game at a time.” “It was a team effort” etc. There are certain safe, prepackaged answers that should be utterly reflexive, be it for ball players or politicians. And it really bothers me that Cain has shown, more than once, doesn’t know them.

    He’s like Bachmann in that respect- every time he speaks, no matter how good the initial substance is, I get this sinking feeling that he’s just one sentence away from blowing up his campaign.

      I agree that is a big vulnerability–that he doesn’t have the cliches down pat. It is also why I like him. Some chance he might tell me what he thinks. In this case, he didn’t recognize the bear trap. “have you stopped beating your wife?”

      Actually, he should be reflexive on this specific case. My experience, too, is entirely private sector. It was beat into me when I was a pup NEVER to bad mouth the competition. Stock answer: “You know, I don’t really know much about them, they do have some success in some areas. Let me tell you about our Super Deluxe Gee-Whiz Mark IV”

      I am another redneck for Cain. I will take a real person over a fake every time. If I completely disagree with the real person, I sit it our, but I have had it with the spineless, gutless go with the wind types.

        Cowboy Curtis in reply to lichau. | October 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm

        I’m not saying he needs to be fake. The general sense of authenticity he often exhibits is a big plus. Nor that he revert into saying nothing but cliches. But there are certain questions and unexpected circumstances, especially where you know you’re operating without all the facts, where 98% of all the possible things you could say are going to put your ass in a sling with somebody (or everybody). That’s where the tried and true get out of jail answers come in, and they should never be far from the tip of a candidate’s tongue. Even when they look fake, it keeps you from saying something stupid (like Cain did).

        There’s nothing dishonorable about issuing a canned answer in order to give yourself time to get a hold on the situation or to gather the facts. I’d argue its just plain smart to do so. That he so often refuses to do this is very endearing. Its also like watching a man juggle live hand grenades.

        In all honesty, the comments made me feel like maybe this wasn’t the post-racial guy I thought he would. Like maybe I was getting a look at where his instincts are, and I didn’t like what I saw. I know he’s issued a clarification, but it would have been a lot more convincing yesterday than it is now that everyone’s talking about how bad it hurt him. And it made me feel that he’s a political dilettante who might not be ready for the main event. I haven’t given up on the guy, but nothing about yesterday sat well with me. At all.

Big mistake by Cain. If anything gets under conservatives skin in that special grating way, it’s playing the race card (or even someone inadvertently playing it).

And he really could have used the opportunity to say “It’s unfortunate that the slur was on this rock, but I take Gov. Perry at his word. I really think the race card has been maxed out by Pres. Obama and I won’t contribute to it any more…” But he didn’t.

A lot of people thought Cain was beyond that. Guess not.

BannedbytheGuardian | October 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Sorry but this is a man who is going to let you down.

A fool for a rock.


workingclass artist | October 3, 2011 at 6:50 pm

This latest incident goes to attacking the character of not just the governor but the character of the state of Texas. Herman Cain is a fool.

Frankly it’s making Texans on both sides of the aisle angry. This is the second time Perry’s political opponents in Texas have come forward to defend him.

What does that say about the character of Gov. Perry?

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to workingclass artist. | October 4, 2011 at 12:26 am

    As nobody else has mentioned this -here goes.

    Black vs Chicano.

    Cain feels Perry is pro immigrant including illegals . These take jobs away from black semi skilled & non skilled.

    An everyday sight in Atlanta . Guys waiting for day job . Truck pulls up & takes Hispanics. Blacks left on the pavement.

aguyfromjersey | October 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I’ll start out by saying I like Mr. Cain. But when asked a question that begins with the line “AS reported in the Washington Post” I would question the validity of the story first. They bated him, and he went for it. Poor judgment on Mr. Cain’s part.
If he (or anybody) are going to do Sunday Shows, when asked any question, they should just pass it by and start with the position points they want to get out. Don’t Play Gotcha.

At the end of the day, none of our candidates is “smart” enough, unless they are a liberal-socialist-progressive-democrat. Other candidates should know what Rumsfeld pointed out “There are things we know we know, things we know we don’t know, and things we don’t know we don’t know.” So we must elect a candidate who demonstrates instinctive reactions we can trust. Cain’s clarification sounds good. Did he not question why this information didn’t come out earlier on the longest serving governor in Texas history?

We need to not only vet our candidates on their resume and accomplishments, and their position papers, but also on how we think they will answer that 3 o’clock phone call. My enthusiasm for Mr. Cain has dampened a bit.

Just an observation but what exactly is Bachmann’s and Cain’s role in this race?
Bachmann has not really accomplished much as a legislator. She has embraced the spirit of the Tea Party Movement but she has no cogent/coherent ideas to move the Movement forward except to say ‘NO’. She has lied and demagogued Pawlenty out of the race and she tried to do the same to Perry concerning Gardasil. Yet, her attacks on Romney seem tame/lame.

Cain has really been a one issue candidate; the Fair Tax. He is rather clueless on foreign policy and seems to avoid any discussion on how to cut spending. He has shown to treat Romney with kid gloves. Yet, Cain takes Perry to the woodshed in the most demagogic and calumnous manner on a matter concerning race.
Yes, he allegedly qualifies it with the ‘if what is said is true’ mantra but that is intellectually dishonest. If he had actually read the article, he would have realized it was much ado about nothing. Instead, he gives credence to rumor, innuendo, and worst of all, the smear.
Who benefits from this attack? Cain? Bachmann? My guess is Romney. Cain has reached his political ceiling. His political resume is thinner than Bachmann and the guy who currently occupies the White House. He talks a good game but this attack on Perry is over-the-top. He needs to not only apologize to Perry but to the American people.

I think the people have figured out Bachmann and will soon figure out Cain. The question then becomes; is it too late?

    SmokeVanThorn in reply to spartan. | October 3, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Yeah, it was terrible for Bachmann to demagogue the HPV vaccine issue by using affected females as political props and even blaming one of them for lobbying her to take the action for which she was being criticized – oh, wait a minute . . .

    But it was worse when Cain said people who question the wisdom of providing a $20,000+ annual benefit to illegal immigrants are heartless and want to deny benefits based on Hispanic ethnicity – oh, wait . . .

      Umm, it was Bachmann who claimed Gardasil caused mental retardation. Of course, this was based on an anecdote of some mom who told Bachmann the horrors of this drug. Yet, she did nothing about forced vaccinations when she was a state rep in MN or during her time in Congress.
      Oh, and despite repeated attempts to verify the anecdote, Bachmann refuses to come clean. Perhaps, that is why she is at less than 5%.

      I don’t post much here (perhaps, I should) but I was a Pawlenty supporter. I am currently a free agent. Perry needs to do better but I am tired of this sniping from those folks who presumably are on our side against folks on our side. Cain and Bachmann are sideshows in this primary drama. If these folks are the face of the Tea Party and Conservative Movements then perhaps I over-estimated both movements. Both lack the requisites to be commander-in-chief.

      oh, wait a minute ….. indeed.

I wonder at what point in time the Washington Post stopped using the “N” word in its articles? I did a search of the word in 6 years worth of their papers from the early 1900’s and had 865 hits. It was used rather casually by their staff in describing events from that period.

    lichau in reply to gasper. | October 4, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Very interesting question. The “N word” has changed in my lifetime. When I was a child (50’s) it was considered bad English (proper word was “Negro”); use of it reflected negatively on the user. Probably was mildly insulting, although that was more context driven. How you said it more than simply saying it. I knew some people that used it routinely–no offense intended. Same sort that said “aint”.

    Now, it seems to be the supreme proscribed word–more than any of the four letter words, which can be used with impunity.

Mr. Cain made a big mistake on this one – the mistake was taking the media setup and thinking he has to act a certain way now that he’s in the top tier. I wrote him through his campaign about this because I like him as a candidate. I hope he comes around quickly on this and maybe does some reflecting on how the media likes to play these kinds of games.