Herman Cain has decided to “suspend” (read: “end”) his Presidential campaign.
He has also announced the launch of a new website to continue advertising the solutions he’s been messaging during his campaign. I’m not exactly clear on what the solutions have been, aside from his 999 tax plan and his less-than-stellar position on gun ownership, but he’s adamant about continuing to spread them, whatever they are.
I can’t help but draw a comparison to Sarah Palin. In only four years she’s made quite a journey from obscure governor of the most remote state in the country, to one of the most recognized names in America today, and much of this success has been based on the sympathy of her fans and the Republican public-at-large to her mistreatment by the media. She, too, stepped down (from the governorship of Alaska) amid criticism. Along the way she’s racked up lucrative book deals, a gig with FOX News, numerous speaking engagements, and a reality TV program.
Herman Cain has made a similar journey in a short span of time, from obscure businessman and commentator to top-tier Presidential candidate, and he too has been seen as a victim of the media- and, like Palin, he played this victimhood like a violin. However, the degree of malevolence toward Cain can’t really be compared to that of Palin. Nobody has made ‘retard’ jokes about Cain’s children, for example.
On the one hand, this corollary between meteoric rise to fame and the mantle of victimhood demonstrates the superiority of conservative compassion: Liberal icons often hold their status due to their venomous nature (Debbie Wasserman-Schultz being a perfect example), whereas conservative icons tend to be those who have endured some great hardship, or are at least seen to have. The very noble conservative mindset wants to sympathize with the downtrodden and see them succeed. Conservatives view the American way of life as being under assault by a leftist media- and in many ways, that’s very true- so there is an immediate sympathy to a personality who is under assault by that same media.
On the other hand, this emotionally-charged attachment to a personality leaves no room for criticism. Any mention of the incompetence of Cain’s campaign, and his major policy failures, was met with a barrage from Cain’s devotees, touting Cain’s great character and “natural leadership”. As I expressed in this article, this perception of great character was, ultimately, Cain’s only substantive selling point.
There’s one significant difference between Palin and Cain: Palin wasn’t accused of numerous acts of adultery. I think this distinction will prove to be toxic to Cain’s post-campaign ventures- one can’t successfully wear the mantle of victimhood while being percieved as a victimizer. There will be no Herman & Octomom camping trip in Cain’s future.
Cain also announced that he will be endorsing another candidate soon. Because of campaign finance laws, the fact that Cain’s campaign is “suspended” rather than “ended” means he’ll be able to continue accepting donations for his campaign- and will be able to donate them to related ventures. This could mean a financial windfall for whomever he endorses. Although Cain endorsed Mitt Romney in 2008, my money says he’ll endorse Newt Gingrich this time around.