What’s Behind the Smile?
by Jen Green
Once upon a long time ago, back when Herman Cain actually campaigned in Iowa, I heard him say several times during his stump speech that a leader’s character could be determined by the people with whom he surrounds himself. He would say it as a knock against President Obama’s cabinet and czars. He then promised that as President of the United States he would always surround himself with people of knowledge and character.
That was about the time when we in Iowa started hearing about some serious internal problems happening within the Cain campaign. Now, two Iowa staffs and the Scott Toomey scandal later, Herman Cain is again dealing with an issue of the “intra-personal” kind.
Herman Cain’s campaign “released” the strangest political ad I can ever remember seeing in my lifetime. The add features Mark Block, Herman Cain’s national chief of staff and campaign manager. If for some reason you are one of the three people who didn’t see it yesterday, you can watch it here.
What do we know (officially) about Mark Block? ABCnews.com writes that Block was “banned from politics in Wisconsin for three years and forced to pay a $15,000 fine after being accused by the Wisconsin State Elections Board of violating election law in 1997.” He never admitted any guilt, claiming to this day it was a political vendetta against him. Another one of Cain’s major campaign staffers is Jamie Brazil, his vice-president of field operations, who used to work for Hilary Clinton and is her nephew’s godfather. And just last week, TMZ.com broke the story that one of Cain’s bodyguards is a convicted felon who also worked for Mel Gibson’s ex-trophy wife Oksana Grigorieva. And all this is on top of the previously mentioned Scott Toomey issue.
Anyhow, back to the video. I’ve watched it several times, and I can only come up with five possible motives for releasing something so . . . bizarre and actually taking credit for it.
1) This is an ingenious use of “no press is bad press.” Cain’s crazy-as-a-fox campaign knew something this strange would spread like wildfire on the Internet. And they were right.
2) This is total arrogance. Proud of his “outsider” status, Cain’s campaign thinks because of the type of “media” candidate they’re breeding, they can do things “our own way,” even if they are creepy.
3) This is an attempt to re-define the candidate. First, Herman Cain was a tea party favorite. Then he was a social conservative darling. He’s not managed to fit either mold well. So, this , along with the strange appearances on Stossel and Piers Morgan is a way to re-define him, make him edgier, more “libertarian-centrist” to make him more attractive to younger voters.
4) This is just plain stupid. Or, maybe “naive” is the better word. Running for President magnifies a candidates’ missteps (just ask Rick Perry), and perhaps this is one of those.
5) This is total sabotage. With every strange iteration of his campaign, I’ve wondered if Cain has gotten in over his head. I’ve wondered if he really expected things to go this far—and really all along just wanted some popularity and to sell books. Perhaps, this whole running for President thing has gotten far too serious, far too quickly, and he never meant it to get this big. So, this is equalizing things a bit.
What do you think? Is it one of these . . . or another I’ve missed?