Washington Times reporter Kerry Picket reached out to the Herman Cain campaign after an avalanche of criticism over the handling of the response to sexual harassment claims over the last two weeks, which increased markedly after campaign manager Mark Block falsely asserted that he had “confirmed” that one of the accusers was related to a Politico reporter. The reporter had left Politico more than a year earlier, and turned out to be no relation to the accuser. Despite calls for Block to leave the campaign from Tom Tancredo, a former Cain staffer, and conservative pundits (The Hill’s story also quotes me), Cain’s team says they will stick with Block:
A highly placed Cain source sent the Water Cooler an e-mail: “This is a hysterically funny rumor. The Inside the Beltway crowd is in the midst of a nervous breakdown regarding the success the Cain campaign is having with the American people. Mr. Cain believes in the old adage, ‘You continue to dance with the one that brung ya’ to the dance.'”
Loyalty is an admirable quality, but flat-out incompetence and the failure to correct it is not, especially in an executive. Herman Cain may very well be innocent of these accusations, but Mark Block offered two unsubstantiated accusations in less than a week, both of which the campaign had to retract, in response to the allegations. If Block went off the reservation to do that, the proper remedy for an executive would be to replace him immediately, especially after Block’s pompous declaration that he had “confirmed” that Josh Kraushaar worked for Politico and that he was Karen Kraushaar’s son. Not only were neither true, a simple Google search would have shown that Josh Kraushaar works for National Journal, a competing publication, and has since 2010.
This is misguided loyalty, anyway. Mark Block may have helped Herman Cain campaign, but Block didn’t “bring” Cain to the top of the polling. Cain did that himself by convincing Republican voters that his executive skills are so excellent and his track record of rescue operations in the private sector so compelling that it validates a nomination for someone who has never won an election before now. Cain’s refusal to deal with Block’s embarrassing performance undermines both of those arguments; if he can’t recognize when an adviser has become a detriment to his campaign’s credibility and recognize the crisis in front of him, what confidence will voters have in his ability to handle those tasks as President? That is a valid concern for any primary candidate, but Cain’s unique pitch and resumé makes it a central issue for his candidacy.
Erick Erickson writes today that Cain needs to fire Block immediately, and to keep going until he’s cleaned house entirely:
It is abundantly obvious to a lot of us Herman that you are not living up to your own words. You said you would surround yourself with the best people — the competent people to help you.
Last week, J.D. Gordon had a disastrous performance on a Blackberry on Geraldo’s show. His performance set the tone for the Monday news shows, all of which pointed out that your own communications vice president would not deny the story.
Then Mark Block went on TV to blame Curt Anderson only to walk it back the next day.
This week, Mark Block again went on TV, said he had verified the identify of a reporter as the son of your accuser, and got it totally wrong. But he said it was verified. It was a lie.
Herman, you said you’d surround yourself with the best people and you’ve surrounded yourself with Class A failures. The problems you are facing are problems of campaign staffing. You’ve failed to live up to your own standard of hiring the best people.
I still believe you can win. But to do so, you must fire your staff and start over.
That should have already happened by now. It should have happened with Block as soon as his “confirmed” assertion about Josh Kraushaar was proven utterly false. The fact that Cain isn’t dealing with the problem is Cain’s biggest problem now.
Update: Cain’s defenders in the comments section are mainly saying that Cain doesn’t answer to media types like … Erick and me. Well, of course not in the literal sense — we aren’t running his campaign. But he’s running for President, which would make him accountable to everyone. Furthermore, he wants to get our votes, and has to make the case that he’s competent enough to convince us. I’m not dictating to Cain what he must do; I’m telling him what I think he should do if he wants to convince me that he’s serious and competent.
If the defense of Cain is that we’re being big meanies for pointing out his campaign failings, then I think we’re missing the point of having a primary process. It’s not to glorify all candidates, or any of them. It’s to pick the person with the best policies who has the best chance of beating Barack Obama in November 2012. If this campaign keeps Mark Block on board after his misrepresentations, it’s not serious enough to warrant support. In other words, to quote The Godfather, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s business.”