Op-Ed: Delusion, The Donald, and Derailing the Cain Train

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore


By Zarak Khan, Staff Editor

Since his untimely departure from the presidential race, there has been a Trump-shaped hole in our electorate hearts that has been yearning for a suitor. And who should come a-wooing but Herman Cain. He fits the bill: turn-around expert with business sense, sharp-dresser, and charismatic speaker.

As his campaign began to gain ground we heard about his 9-9-9 tax plan, his foreign policy credentials, his stance on immigration, and his love of singing. Despite being rebuffed by both the left and right for his tax plan, neglecting to note that Uzbekistan plays a critical role to the US military in Central Asia, and attempting to backpedal his electrified fence comments, he continued to maintain front-runner status in the GOP primary.

But an article by Politico exposing several sexual harassment settlements from the 1990’s accomplished what bizarre campaign strategies and verbal gaffes did not: putting the brakes on the Cain Train’s forward momentum.

Do these settlements matter? Of course—the character and judgment of presidential candidates deserve scrutiny. The bigger question, however, is how did he become front-runner in the first place? How did his campaign gain momentum when what most people know him for is his terribly regressive tax plan, pride in ignorance of world affairs, and irresponsible approach to immigration? This brings us back to The Donald.

Before being skewered at the White House Correspondents Dinner by President Obama, Trump was a front-runner for the nomination, garnering attention for himself by riding the “birther” wave and promising to “get tough on China”. Perhaps David Remnick of the New Yorker said it best when he wrote:

What is there to say anymore about Donald Trump? That he is an irrepressible jackass who thinks of himself as a sly fox? That he is a buffoon with bathroom fixtures of gold? Why bother, after so many decades? There is no insulting someone who lives in a self-reinforcing fantasy world.

Cain and Trump are cut from the same cloth. Either they are running for office as a way of marketing themselves (i.e. selling books or renewing TV contracts) or they both exist in a fantasy world where being a motivational speaker or a TV celebrity qualifies you to be president and knowledge is a liability. Unfortunately those fantasy worlds seem to be closer to reality with each fringe candidate.

Trump bowed out after ridicule and over-exposure led to his poll numbers collapsing. Cain was making headway in spite of his lack of credentials and poor policy proposals. Does it now take a sex scandal to remove the dross from the GOP nomination process?


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