Oops. There they go again.
If Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry had a brain lapse in a nationally televised debate and admitted it didn’t make him appear very presidential, then Republican candidate Herman Cain just did a double-oops. That’s because he admitted knowing Ms. Ginger White, an Atlanta woman who has produced phone bills in her name showing 61 calls and text messages to a number she claimed was to Mr. Cain, along with allegations that they had been having a 13-year affair. When a television station called the number, Mr. Cain answered and the gig was up.
Officially, he told news reporters on Tuesday, he would be reassessing his campaign’s viability because, while he denied Ms. White’s accusation, he said the campaign might not be able to recover in time for the Iowa caucuses just five weeks away.
Or just perhaps, this time he can’t see a way out of this new pickle.
What’s slightly disturbing about Mr. Cain’s candidacy is that he had the audacity to think no one would find out about his indiscretions; that he could propose simplistic solutions to complex problems (his 9-9-9 proposal) and the public would lap it up; and that he could ignore questions and provide sound-bite answers (seemingly straightforward and bold, but more cute than intelligent). In that sense he was following in the footsteps of George W. Bush by creating an image people could like, could buy into — regardless of the policies he actually believed and espoused.
Hopefully, Mr. Cain’s and Gov. Perry’s recent performances will remind American voters that intelligent, thoughtful and fully vetted answers to the nation’s toughest problems are the least common denominator for any candidate that seeks to run the nation. An ability to lead, honesty, integrity and some semblance of humility are important pluses. Those who don’t have the latter, will fall by the wayside as the show plays on — but the prize is to elect the candidate who understands the issues — domestic and foreign — and who embraces policies that puts Americans’ future in good stead.
The challenge for voters is to wade through all the nonsense, to read enough about the issues to be able to discern fact from fiction, and then decide that crucial question: which candidate has the understanding, compassion, intelligence, knowledge and sound decision-making skills to best serve the country.
It’s never an easy task, but some candidates have been making the selection process that much easier all on their own.