A Rising Tide?

The latest poll of Republican voters shows that Rick Santorum is now tied with Mitt Romney with 30% each. It’s a stunning shift as Santorum has risen thirteen points very rapidly while Romney has dropped a couple. Newt Gingrich appears to be fading. The big question is whether Santorum can sustain this momentum.

Critics say that this is no different than what we’ve seen throughout this primary season. Rick Perry rocketed into first place when he entered the race. His fall was followed by Herman Cain’s meteoric rise, and then when he ran into his troubles, Gingrich was the beneficiary. So, in all, this makes Santorum the fourth candidate to equal or surpass Romney at one point or another.

My response is that while this also could be transitory, Santorum would only fall back due to some major misstep. Unlike Perry, he has come across as knowledgeable in the debates, with many believing he was the outright winner of the second one in Florida. Unlike Cain, he is more tested and has political leadership experience. And unlike Gingrich, he has no real personal baggage or history of constantly changing positions. He is who he is, and he’s been pretty consistent over the years.

I wasn’t at CPAC, but all the accounts of his appearance there indicate there is a rising tide. So many showed up for his speech that not everyone could get into the room. The accounts I’ve read say he got a standing ovation for his comments. Earlier in the week, when he showed up at Oral Roberts University, they had to change the location to the large arena because they expected perhaps 2000 would be attending. Instead, 3500 came to hear him.

Romney, meanwhile, in his speech at CPAC, seemed determined to convince the audience that he was a true conservative. He used the term “conservative” or its derivations twenty-six times in a speech with the same number of minutes. He even called himself the “severely” conservative governor of Massachusetts. Severely? How does that adjective fit? It’s oddly out of place to use that word in that context. It’s as if he is almost desperate to showcase his conservatism. But when you are that desperate, you have to understand why some might question your authenticity.

The real test of the trajectory of this race this month will come down to Michigan and Arizona on the 28th. Maybe those contests will clear the air. If not, March’s Super Tuesday will be the one to watch.

A Cain Reassessment

Political fortunes can rise and fall rapidly. Herman Cain is a prime example. He is now reassessing his candidacy. I’d like to offer my reassessment also.

Unless you live in a cave somewhere in Tora Bora, you know that a third woman has come forth with an allegation. This one has nothing to do with sexual harassment, but a thirteen-year-long consensual affair. Cain adamantly denies this allegation, as he has the other two. Those of us who have liked Cain and have hoped he could be a viable nominee, due to his real-world experience in business, his plain talk, his desire to move the country to a Fair Tax plan, and his Christian faith, now have to reexamine the candidate and his prospects.

If you’ve read this blog previously, you know I have deep doubts about the credibility of the two previous accusers. One is in financial trouble and has quite a checkered past; the other has shown a tendency to be over-sensitive with respect to what she deems sexual harassment. Neither one convinced me that Cain was guilty.

This new accuser has her own problems. Like one of the others, she has declared bankruptcy, she always seems to be in financial messes, and a restraining order was carried out against her for stalking. Does she now see the opportunity to cash in by selling her “tell-all” story, whether true or false? One also has to wonder how anyone could hide this affair for thirteen years. Was Cain always alone in his travels? Wouldn’t someone else have suspicions about his behavior if in fact her claims are true?

As I’ve said before, if Cain has done any of these things, he needs to step down immediately. He would be a hypocrite of the first order. If he is innocent, he is in the unenviable position of having to defend himself from unjust accusations. In the courts of law, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The court of public perception is another matter; the opposite is the case. The accusations themselves create a cloud of uncertainty about one’s character. The accused must somehow prove innocence.

If Cain is innocent, his task is to provide some kind of incontrovertible evidence that contradicts the claims made by these women. If the claims are false, coming up with such evidence is nearly impossible. Unless Cain can do so, I believe there is only one path for him to follow at this time: he has no choice but to withdraw from the race. Rightly or wrongly, he is damaged goods. His star already was fading over his inability to articulate a clear grasp of foreign policy.

I had high hopes for Mr. Cain. I have them no longer. If he is guilty, I pray he finds it within himself to repent of his actions and receive forgiveness from the God he says he worships, and that his family is not destroyed by his sins. If he is innocent [which I dearly hope is the case], for the sake of his family, his wife in particular, it is time to concentrate on those relationships and decline to seek the presidency. All of us must get our priorities straight. His priority right now is his family’s house, not the White House.

Examining the Candidates

I spoke last night at a local Republican club. My assignment was to examine all the Republican contenders for the presidential nomination. I knew this might be a tough assignment simply because each one would have some supporters in the audience. My approach, therefore, despite my own personal leanings, was to be as impartial as possible. For each candidate, I shared what the candidate himself/herself identified as strengths, and why voters should choose them. Then I turned to the critiques that have been aimed at each one—not necessarily my critiques, but the most common ones in the perceptions of the electorate.

There were some things I didn’t say, such as there are only three that have any real chance of getting the nomination, in my view. Neither did I express my grave concerns that if Romney is the nominee, the Republican Party will be going in reverse. I was told by those who spoke with me afterward that I achieved my goal of impartiality. Some said they deeply appreciated the “summary” I provided. So I guess I traversed this minefield successfully.

One thing I could tell everyone is that if the Florida primary were held today, I would be unsure which candidate would get my vote. For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I’ve been partial to Cain. I like his unconventional approach to campaigning—not bowing to the gods of traditional electioneering who say you have to spend 90% of your time in Iowa, and you cannot spend time promoting your book. For Cain, promotion of his book is effective electioneering. It allows voters to get a better sense of the man. I also like his ultimate goal for establishing the Fair Tax, which will eliminate the personal income tax.

Neither am I convinced that the accusations of sexual harassment have much weight. I don’t think the character of the accusers should give anyone confidence that they are practiced truth-tellers.

I have growing concerns, though, on two fronts. First, Cain’s campaign staff has handled this challenge poorly. They began lobbing their own unproven accusations against others, with Cain participating. They’ve had to walk back far too many comments. For someone who says he will choose the best advisers as president, this doesn’t inspire confidence. The second concern is whether Cain really can come up to speed on foreign affairs. While I trust his instincts on knowing the difference between a true friend and an enemy, he needs to exhibit more expertise in that arena.

Lately, I’ve been giving Gingrich a second look, which surprises even me. He’s very intelligent and can dominate a debate when he’s “on.” I’ve commented often on his personal baggage from the past. That won’t go away. I am prepared to believe he has undergone a sincere repentance over his self-initiated divorces, but the consequences of those actions will stay with him into any general election. So will his history of low public approval polling during the Clinton years. Can he overcome all of that? I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know for sure. Regime change is essential. If we’re going to even have a nation that in any way resembles what the Founding Fathers sought, the Obama administration must become a thing of the past. That is so important that I would even vote for Romney in the general election, if necessary. It would be a anti-Obama vote, not a pro-Romney vote, for sure.

But wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to vote for, rather than against?

Well-Coordinated Strategy?

It’s never my intent to stay on one story for an entire week, but the Herman Cain situation calls for it, especially when new info keeps coming on those who are making the accusations. For those who say a Christian shouldn’t spend time on these tawdry details, I simply reply that if someone’s reputation is on the line, and those who are damaging that reputation have things to hide themselves, they are fair game. Seeking truth is not wallowing in tawdry details.

Yesterday, I noted the many problems in the life of Sharon Bialek that ought to give one pause before believing her. Now we learn that her live-in fiancé who is her sole means of support is getting ready to declare bankruptcy. In other words, it appears that she is in need of funds after all. Despite her disclaimer that she is not seeking to make money, she has to know that somebody will pay her for more “juicy” details. I’m getting the strong impression she’s not above making up some of those details in exchange for monetary gain.

Then there’s the odd case of Karen Kraushaar, the other woman who has become a public face in the accusations. We now know that after she filed a complaint against Cain while she worked at the National Restaurant Association, that she did the same thing at her next job in the government. Her complaint centered around unfair treatment because she wasn’t allowed to work full-time from home and because she was offended by an e-mail she considered sexist and abusive to women. The e-mail in question was a common one that simply compared men and women. You can find it if you search, but it’s not particularly offensive, and it’s not abusive, just humorous. It’s not really any worse than blonde jokes that go around.

What does this say about her sensitivities? Is she perhaps too easily offended by remarks that wouldn’t offend most other people?

Quite aside from her character relating directly to sexual harassment charges, there is another part of her history that interests me. She was a spokeswoman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service back when that agency broke into a house and forcibly removed Elian Gonzalez from his relatives’ care and returned him to his father in Cuba. To me, that was one of the most outrageous episodes in the Clinton era under the auspices of Attorney General Janet Reno. Kraushaar was the voice of the agency, proclaiming that it was doing the right thing. As I said, that is not related to the current charges she is leveling, but I think it does provide more evidence of the type of person Cain had to deal with at the NRA.

Meanwhile, new evidence is surfacing that David Axelrod, who is President Obama’s “go-to” guy for reelection, may be behind the release of the Cain information from the NRA. Axelrod has done this type of thing before on behalf of Obama; ostensibly, it’s why he won his senatorial seat. I won’t go into the details here, but you can check out the possibility by going to http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=47438.

On the positive side, there is an article that reveals a sophisticated software program that has been shown to be more accurate than lie detectors has concluded Cain is telling the truth, while Bialek probably is not. I’m no expert on this, by any means, but you can read that article at http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/16002149/investigator-herman-cain-innocent-of-sexual-advances.

What does this all mean, in practical terms? The more information that emerges, the more I’m leaning toward Cain’s innocence in these matters. Smearing a man’s reputation is never difficult. All it takes is a well-coordinated strategy from people who are practiced in devising such strategies. Sadly, all the innocent person can do is stoutly deny the charges and hope others believe him. That’s so unfair that it perhaps calls for Cain to make a charge of sexual harassment against him. Wouldn’t that be an interesting turnabout?

Vetting the Accuser

In yesterday’s post, I wondered if any of the media would vet Sharon Bialek as vigorously as they have Herman Cain. Some have taken up the challenge; the result is a personal history that is anything but sterling. Now, it must be noted that no matter how checkered her own past might be, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Cain is guiltless. For me, the jury is still out on that; the verdict is far from clear. Yet the Bialek story does raise questions of credibility.

The Chicago Tribune has done the heavy lifting thus far on piecing together just who the accuser really is, and what her character may be. In short, Bialek is not a stranger to controversy of the legal and financial type. Here are some of the facts the Tribune uncovered:

  • She has filed for bankruptcy twice, first in 1991, then again in 2001.
  • In the 2001 bankruptcy, she had more than $36,000 in liabilities and only about $5000 in assets. A management firm was seeking payment of four months of back rent, four credit card companies sought payment, and a lawyer was trying to get her to pay his legal fees.
  • Afterwards, she borrowed $4500 from a boyfriend, who she then accused of harassing her for repayment. The former boyfriend now believes she never had an intent to pay him back.
  • The IRS filed a tax lien against her in 2009 for $5200.
  • Also in 2009, the Illinois Dept. of Revenue claimed that Bialek owed the state more than $4300.
  • Court records show that creditors took legal action against her during the last decade, including one lawsuit filed in Cook County [Chicago].

There is also an incident in which she spoke to Cain at a Tea Party event earlier this year. One observer said she hugged Cain, which would be a little odd given her story. That same observer, though, said the conversation [which she couldn’t overhear] was tense, and Bialek left in a huff. The observer, a reporter, took that as evidence that she is telling the truth, but I can see how one can interpret that in the opposite way.

There are also a few comments from CBS newsman Bill Kurtis, who was a guest on Mark Levin’s radio program on Monday. Kurtis, commenting on the time Bialek spent working for CBS, said the following: “She has a history. . . . There is a lot more to this story. . . . Let’s put Herman or Sharon in the car and say their roles may even have been reversed, given her track record here.”

Hmmm.

I would add one more item, which is mentioned in the Tribune article but not in a negative way: Bialek apparently has never been married, but has a son out of wedlock, and seems to have spent her life moving from one man to another. She currently lives with a man she met via the Internet; she has lived with him for four years, and they are engaged to be married. Well, making it legal would be nice. By the way, she lives in the same apartment building as David Axelrod, who is in charge of the Obama reelection bid.

Double hmmm.

Concurrently with the Bialek spectacle, one of the women who filed a complaint against Cain went public yesterday as well. Her name is Karen Kraushaar, a spokeswoman at the Treasury Department and an Obama appointee.

Triple hmmm.

While we should be concerned, and properly, that a candidate for the presidency who claims to be a Christian, live up to his profession in his personal life and not be a hypocrite, we also have to take into account the lifestyle of the accuser. She already has shown herself to be anything but a moral person in a number of ways. Prior to Cain’s tenure at the National Restaurant Association, there appear to have been no accusations against him.

Either he suddenly became something he never was before, or there is a concerted attempt to undermine his candidacy. In his press conference last night, Cain again denied all allegations as fabrications. I freely admit I am predisposed to believe him, but more than that, I want to know the truth, and if that truth is not what I am predisposed to believe, I will accept it. In the meantime, though, I continue to be skeptical with regard to the accusations.

The New Cain Accusation: Truth or High-Tech Lynching?

So someone finally came out with a specific accusation against Herman Cain. It cannot be dismissed out of hand. Cain is going to have to do something to prove his credibility simply because the media will never let up on this. Of course, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Accusers are supposed to have evidence. Even in this case of a specific accusation, no evidence was brought to the table. It’s another “he said, she said” scenario.

Politically, this is going to hurt Cain. As I noted in a previous posting, if he is guilty, he needs to step aside. But if he’s not, he has to take action. Karl Rove had a piece of advice for the Cain team last night. He said they should push for the records of the National Restaurant Association to be released, albeit with the names of the women omitted. Cain has said repeatedly that the investigation into those accusations at the time showed they were baseless. If that’s what the official records confirm, that will go a long way in vindicating Cain and putting the issue to rest. For the sake of finding the truth, I also would like to see that happen.

The new accuser, Sharon Bialek, hired Gloria Allred as her attorney. That’s a cautionary tale right there. Allred is infamous as a radical feminist celebrity hound who takes on controversial cases to advance her own leftist agenda. Shouldn’t that raise some type of red flag immediately? Then there’s Bialek herself. She claims to be a Republican, even having attended Tea Party rallies. Is that true? The media need to find out if that is the truth. Now, here’s the big question of the day: will the media vet the accuser as avidly as they have gone after Herman Cain? Someone needs to plumb the depths of her background and investigate her integrity. It would only be fair, wouldn’t it? And isn’t that what the media are supposed to do—get all the facts?

If they indeed fulfill their obligation to scrutinize Bialek, I will be one of the most surprised people around. For a large portion of the media, the game is over: they’ve made their point; they’ve damaged a candidate they didn’t want to see win.

Have they won?

The Pseudo-Controversy

The accusations against Herman Cain aren’t any more substantial today than they were last week. In the meantime, he had an interesting sitdown debate with New Gingrich on the issues of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. I wasn’t able to watch it, but the reviews I’ve read say it was worthwhile—a real opportunity to allow candidates to speak their minds in depth on issues without being subject to the whims of the broadcast media. No “gotcha” questions, just straight talk.

What’s difficult for some people to grasp is that it’s possible to be a black citizen in America and hold conservative views. Many think all blacks are completely sold out to liberal policies, so it astounds them when someone like Cain espouses conservatism, especially on economic issues and the role of government in society. It also enrages some. Such divergent opinions shouldn’t be permitted. Send that man to the back of the bus!

Or at least to the other water fountain. Let’s revive segregation! At least, that’s the way it appears at times.

I was watching the Huckabee program last night. His opening statement was about the way Cain has been treated by the media with respect to the unsubstantiated sexual harassment allegations. I wish I had a transcript of Huckabee’s statement, but it went something like this:

  • The media have tried to make a big deal out of nothing; they’ve worked hard to manufacture a scandal where one probably doesn’t exist.
  • In the past, the media have ignored genuine instances of sexual harassment and rampant infidelities—witness John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and John Edwards, in particular.
  • Therefore, the media are very selective in deciding which ones merit extensive coverage, and wouldn’t you know, they always come out strong against any conservative who can be dragged down by either real wrongdoing or speculations of wrongdoing, while the escapades of liberals are scarcely mentioned.

Herman Cain should be given the benefit of the doubt, particularly since so many of his coworkers in the past have come to his defense, noting that he always treated everyone professionally, men and women alike.

Is the “Cain train” going to be derailed by this? We don’t know yet. But if it ever is derailed, let it be on the basis of a vote on his ideas and qualifications for the office, including his character, but not on a “he said, she almost-said” controversy. It’s time to turn the page on this pseudo-controversy and get back to the business of choosing the next president.