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Cain shouldn’t hide behind race

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By Rick Howell

    Republican presidential surprise Herman Cain hit a big bump in his “road to the White House” last week when he fought allegations of sexual harassment.

    The political Web site, Politico.com, broke the story, which was then in every other media outlet within minutes.
    At first, the pizza king said he couldn’t remember any incidents that would have led a woman to file such a complaint. A fuzzy memory is always good in these situations, isn’t it?
    But that strategy didn’t last long. Finally, the Herminator said that there might have been a remark he made to a woman while head of the National Restaurant Association that she could have taken wrong. Or something like that.
    He insisted that he’s never sexually harassed anyone, but it took the media and the NRA (the pizza boys, not the gun boys) to report the facts: There were at least three women who complained about Cain’s behavior, and at least one of them was awarded a settlement from the organization.
    Cain then quickly started playing the victim (it’s amazing how fast conservatives can get there when they deem it necessary), suggesting that his race was the main factor in these charges, and – here’s a familiar right-wing refrain – that the “liberal media” was among those trying to “destroy” him.
In the past, Cain has castigated other blacks for supporting the Democratic Party. He likes to say that he “left the Democrat plantation a long time ago.”
    But that’s just one more area where he’s showing his ignorance. He must not know that it was Democratic presidents Truman, Kennedy and Johnson who did the most for blacks in the 20th century.
    Truman integrated the armed forces and campaigned in 1948 on the first civil rights plank in the platform of either party. Johnson got Kennedy’s civil rights bill passed. Naturally, blacks have historic reasons to be Democratic. Some of us don’t have memories as faulty as Herman’s.
    Some conservative pundits assisted Cain in playing the “race card.” Ann Coulter, the right-wing priestess of hate, said liberals are “terrified” of a black conservative. Rush Limbaugh pushed out all the hot air he possesses to defend Cain and blame his favorite target: “the liberal media.”
    But this is not about racism, and it’s not about a media witch hunt, either. Could Herman Cain not have known that if he ran for president every single aspect of his life, public and private, would be under scrutiny? Didn’t he understand that?
    The media hasn’t created out of thin air what the facts are here: At least three women felt sexually harassed by Herman Cain. At this point, they appear reluctant to talk about details, and at least one of them is forbidden to do so by the terms of her settlement.
    But this is a serious matter; it’s not racist and it’s not about media. It’s about Herman Cain, the pizza king with no elective experience who somehow thinks he ought to be president.
    As this was written, polls were finally beginning to show that Cain’s support was dropping. There’s no telling what else has been revealed by the time you read this.
    Republicans need to figure this out: Stop looking for an alternative to your eventual nominee. Quit flirting with Cain, Perry, Bachman, Gingrich, or any of the rest of that ridiculous bunch.
    Get behind Mitt Romney. He’s a decent man, and he just might be able to win.
    Naturally, I’m a proud supporter of President Obama. But if he were to lose, I’d like to see a credible alternative replace him. That person is certainly not Herman Cain. It’s Mitt Romney.
    Come on, Republicans. Get a clue.
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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.