S.E. Cupp: Cain at first was a fresh voice who admitted not knowing everything
She says we learned that his lack of knowledge extended very widely
Cain couldn't show that he deserved the public's vote for top office, she says
Cupp: Cain may blame the media, but he truly wasn't qualified for the job
Editor’s Note: S.E. Cupp is author of “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity” and co-author of “Why You’re Wrong About the Right.” She is a columnist at the New York Daily News, senior writer at the Daily Caller, and a political commentator.
Earlier this summer, before the allegations against Herman Cain had surfaced and life was, by all accounts, more innocent, I met him for an interview in New York City’s Bryant Park. Amid sounds of chirping birds and a morning yoga lesson on the lawn, we had a long talk, about his family, his politics, and what was then Cain’s most controversial material, his stance on Muslims in the Cabinet. It feels like such a simpler time.
Oh, what a difference a few months on the campaign trail make.
It seems the Cain train has come to an abrupt halt, not, it would seem, because of Cain’s many challenges in effectively discussing both domestic and foreign policy, but because of numerous allegations of sexual harassment, at least one of sexual assault, and another of infidelity. In his bizarre announcement to suspend his campaign he said he was at peace with his wife, Gloria, and she was at peace with him, but the continued “distraction” of the allegations was too much to bear.
That morning in the park, when Cain was still just a long shot, he didn’t yet speak in the third person, and we didn’t know that Mark Block was a smoker, I remember being impressed with him. He seemed genuine and thoughtful. I remember applauding him for admitting that “he knows what he doesn’t know.” That’s when I thought what he didn’t know wasn’t, well, just about everything.
While Cain’s supporters may not have believed the allegations about him (or maybe they did and weren’t bothered by them) if true, they would matter. They should matter. But for all the facts we still don’t know about Herman Cain’s relationships with women over the years, the facts that Cain doesn’t know about the world – from Libya to China’s nuclear program, to the president of “Beki, Beki, Beki” – should matter a lot more.
Herman Cain’s appeal was that he was real. He wasn’t politically savvy or polished. And when a candidate, as Charles Krauthammer asserted, decides to “wing it,” as he did, that means that two things will happen. One, the candidate will appear authentic, unscripted, genuine and approachable. And two, the candidate will make mistakes. Cain made a bunch.
In his announcement, Cain blamed the media for spinning his campaign. And his supporters, as well as some conservative commentators, will likely continue to blame the media, Democrats and the women who spoke out against him for his campaign’s demise. They will bemoan the campaign trail as an ugly place that eats its unsuspecting victims alive. But as unprepared as Cain may have been for life in the political spotlight and the invasive cavity search that is performed on presidential hopefuls, the truth is he was far less prepared to actually be our president.
He can’t blame the media for his fumbles on foreign policy, or his inability to explain his own position on abortion. Nor can he blame Democrats or his alleged victims for his failure to sell his 9-9-9 plan as the solution to all of our ills.
Herman Cain is not a victim. He’s a man who decided he deserved the highest vote of confidence the country could give him. And though he may be a genuine, likable and thoughtful person with some good ideas, he did not deserve that vote.
Herman Cain knew what he didn’t know. He should have realized that it was too much to be president.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of S. E. Cupp.