Thursday, December 1, 2011

If Only Their Pants Were On Fire

Today’s campaign managers should avoid the conventional wisdom in running a political candidate’s campaign. At least until they have been forthright with their candidate:  what skeletons are in your closet, no matter how trivial? From previous scandals involving claims of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct, particularly those of former President Bill Clinton, there is one lesson learned:  you do not lie about it, and you do not try to cover it up. In the modern age, no one passes the scrutiny test with so much information so readily available. As the late George Carlin observed, voters want their politicians to be honest about being full of it.

In the current scandal involving GOP candidate Herman Cain, only two possibilities exist once you eliminate that both sides are telling their version of the truth:

Scenario #1:  Herman Cain is lying.

1) What is the benefit?

Staving off the allegations to focus on his candidacy and pressing his agenda for addressing the issues facing the United States.

2) What is the drawback?

Being caught in the lie. End of campaign, end of political career.

Scenario #2:  Herman Cain’s accusers are lying.

1) What is the benefit? (Or, more aptly – who benefits?)

Herman Cain’s campaign collapses, highlighting the follow-up question of who benefits from such a scenario. Certainly, the other GOP candidates. But at this stage, why concentrate energy deceitfully attacking the character of a single candidate? Those candidates leading the polls do not need to, and those behind would only slightly gain a few percentage points. If not sabotage from party ranks, then whom does that leave? Whom does a successful, black conservative threaten?

2) What is the drawback?

Again, being caught in the lie, and possibly something more nefarious. Herman Cain’s campaign soars on the false allegations. Again, why would any GOP candidate potentially sabotage their own campaign in the attempt to do the same to another? Again, who does that leave?

The problem with the second proposition is the conspiracy. Why, at this stage, against a candidate who is one of several leading contenders? If that leaves only the first proposition, the question remains – why? Lying about events only hurts Cain in the end, while setting the record straight – either by denying the allegations in earnest, as he has, or by acknowledging the legitimacy of the allegations – moves beyond to the real issues. Either way, it is too late for whoever has set in motion an apparent web of lies.

©2011 Steve Sagarra

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