For the first time in almost a month Romney is again polling higher than Cain on the RealClearPolitics Republican nomination chart. "9-9-9" notwithstanding, Herman Cain has plummeted 3 full percentage points in the last 3 days leading many to suspect that his "flavor of the month" status may have just expired, as did Rick Perry's about a month earlier.
It doesn't take much thought to attribute Cain's beginning free-fall to the recent allegations that continue to surface that he has a history of sexually harassing women in his professional life. Though the "victims" and very media reporters of these acts are certainly open to critical scrutiny, it seems clear that either at worst he is a rapist or at best he has acted inappropriately with co-worker women while away from his wife. (For example, it has been pretty solidly established that he requested an aid to arrange a dinner meeting with a woman that he did not know but saw at a meeting in Egypt. When his aids refused to do that, he contented himself with having dinner with all of his female aids together.)
Yes, conservative pundits remind us, Bill Clinton did much worse that Cain ever imagined doing, and still managed to be president for 8 years. But they are ignoring one big important point: Democrats are much more willing to forgive liberal politicians of immoral conduct provided their politics are in the desired place. An immoral scandal for a conservative politician, on the other hand, has repeatedly been the kiss of death to their political career. It seems that conservatives feel that a person's personal life will have a big impact on their public decisions, and they want leaders who will support upstanding family values and shun corruption. To liberal voters, character doesn't seem to matter too much, only what the politician will do for them.
Concurrent with Cain's political demise has been Newt Gingrich's slow rise in the polls. Pundits have attributed his gains to regular solid performances in the debates over the last couple months, but they are also failing to mention a few important, game changing points. Though he clearly has a lot of experience in politics and was a major conservative leader during the Clinton administration, there is a very good reason why Gingrich has never been able to get far in the several presidential campaigns that he has run during the last couple decades. Gingrich too has a checkered moral past, one that is arguably more troubling than Cain's.
Here is a brief outline of the Gingrich's more established scandals:
- He reportedly began dating his high school geometry teacher Jackie Battley when he was only 16. They married when he was 19 and she was 26.
- After having two children with Jackie, he began having an affair with another woman named Marianne Ginther. He presented Jackie the terms for their divorce as she was in the hospital recovering from surgery for uterine cancer. He married Marianne 6 months after the divorce was final and was reportedly very resistant to paying any kind of child support or alimony.
- Newt's 2nd wife Marrianne reported him to be very much a spendthrift so she had to take over the finances. Even still, they did not get out of the debt they faced when they married in 1981 until 1994. In 1996 when he served as House Majority Leader, 84 ethics violations were filed against Gingrich for violating tax laws and lying to the House Ethics Subcommittee. He ended up admitting to one of the accounts and was fined $300,000, becoming the first and only Speaker ever to be disciplined for ethics violations. He was eventually forced out of his Speaker position by Republican leaders who blamed him for the party's election losses in 1998.
- Even as Gingrich criticized Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky (and spoke of family values to conservative Christian groups), Newt later revealed that he was having an affair with a much younger woman, Callista Bisek. (He clarified to reporters that his actions were not hypocritical because he condemned Clinton for lying about his affair to a grand jury, not for actually having the affair.) A few months after his 2nd wife Marrianne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (reportedly on Mother's Day), he informed her that he would be divorcing her and marrying Callista.
And these are really just the well-established scandals. There are additional reports of several more affairs and even an instance where President Clinton was able to use this information to muzzle his opposition during the 1998 mid-term elections.
I submit that a man who appears to be as amoral and heartless as Newt Gingrich will never get anywhere near the Republican nomination. Whether you care or not about the sordid and unethical behavior he has admitted to doing (and additional things he has not), surely any reasonable conservative will recognize that he will only become another brief flavor of the month until the media brings his past skeletons out and the Republican party will again be shamed. Why even bother entertaining the thought of his presidency?