Three Brightly Guessed Reasons for Herman Cain’s Meltdown

By Michael Hiltzik From the start, Herman Cain has been a supernova of smugness and greed. Well, that seems to have hit the fan. And the fuse might be about to blow. The 74-year-old…

By Michael Hiltzik

From the start, Herman Cain has been a supernova of smugness and greed. Well, that seems to have hit the fan. And the fuse might be about to blow.

The 74-year-old media attention junkie has fired advisers in an effort to get his campaign off the ground and is beefing up his team, according to Bloomberg News. His public relations firm is dealing with a field director who was fired for no real good reason, Cain tells the paper. And he is even hiring ex-Hillary Clinton aides to run his organization.

On Monday, the New York Post followed up on an earlier cover story about Herman Cain’s historical ignorance. It repeated Cain’s claims that, as a child, he was fond of knowing two New York Times reporters, Abe Rosenthal and Clyde Haberman, whose paper he says bears only a passing resemblance to the paper’s current incarnation. As the Post reported, The Times very badly botched its “fact check” of Cain when he ran against its own boyhood hero, Bill Clinton, back in 1994.

As CNN notes, Cain’s attacks on HPV vaccinations, including one that expressed the thought that other research, such as cancer research, were irrelevant, are more than a little outrageous.

And then there’s that annual gala honoring his favorite cause, the Center for Security Policy, known for positions that include “opposing affirmative action, supports a program that disfavors illegal aliens over U.S. citizens, and claims that it would be possible to develop a cure for HIV/AIDS with peanuts.”

There are some reports suggesting that Heshy Kebede, the Palestinian-American running his presidential campaign, is a key strategist in the revolving door. But Cain has dismissed those rumors. And he has denied an article in the book Conservative Women, published by Michele Giresi, who claims that he was using Arab-Americans as a political wedge issue to try to unseat liberal (and male) lawmakers.

Today, Politico offers “exclusive comments” from two new contributors to the Cain campaign. One is Dan Hirschhorn, who was John McCain’s communications director in 2008, and brings “the high level of policy, policy wonkery and sensitivity that propelled the former senator to the top of many polls last year.” The other is Alison Cummings, who was senior adviser and assistant to the president for Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.

Cummings is concerned about Cain’s “attention to small ball” that she says veers toward the ugly. (What crazy imaginary big-picture stuff is that?) She tells Politico that one of her biggest concerns is the trivializing of the Republican Party, the result of candidates who are “forced to play small ball” in order to capture the nomination.

A charitable view, perhaps, of the sentiment expressed by two new team members of Cain is that he’s still working in their wheelhouse. But it’s depressing to see Cain working against the grain. He promised to be “CEO for all Americans,” but yet, in this day and age, he can’t do that without betraying his very real affinity for the paymasters of Wall Street who can afford to bankroll the campaign of a man who’s shamelessly pandering to those forces. Cain’s “tough talk” about capital punishment puts him squarely in line with the GOP’s so-called “tough on crime” faction that has no regard for human life but instead throws shackles at the mere risk of money. I wonder if he can keep that up while opening up his campaign coffers.

Politics wonks are always arguing about whether or not a candidate’s general view of what’s wrong with the world should matter or is too small to be an issue. But the fact that Cain sees what’s right with the world as incompatible with the party of ideas seems to be changing what sort of conservative this has always been.

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