The Fate of Cain


As Herman Cain contemplates the future of his campaign, the L.A. Times reports that things have grown visibly tense between the candidate and Mrs. Cain, who apparently have not met face-to-face since the Ginger White story broke:

Cain is decamping back to Georgia for a sit-down with wife Gloria over the subject of Ginger White, the Atlanta woman who claims she was Cain’s mistress for over a decade, and he said the two will discuss the future of his struggling presidential campaign.

[…] In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader Thursday, Cain said his wife knew nothing about his relationship with White or the money he has given her over the years to help her support herself. But he maintained that the two had a friendship, not an affair.

When a meeting with your wife becomes an awkward headline-grabbing summit, you’re in trouble.  The Union Leader editorial staff apparently thinks so:

“Cain simply hasn’t prepared himself adequately for the presidency. That combined with the fact that he said yesterday he would change nothing about his handling of the allegations of the past several weeks, and his assertion of a conspiracy theory that stretches credulity, show a lack of self-awareness that should give any supporter pause,” the paper wrote. “We hope the allegations against Herman Cain prove untrue. Whatever the outcome, we suspect his wife will have him back from the campaign trail sooner rather than later.”

Allison Samuels of the Daily Beast, who sets the tone for her coverage by unnecessarily and pointlessly ringing up someone from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to say nasty things about Cain, claims that “sources close to his family say the accusations of infidelity have already taken a significant toll on an already strained marriage.”

A close friend of one Cain’s two children explained that Herman and Gloria Cain’s marriage has seen its share of trouble over the years and his attraction to other women always played a huge role in the friction.

“It never felt like a real marriage when I was around them,’’ says the friend. “Mostly he was always gone and his wife seemed to be OK with it. Not being together seemed the norm for their marriage, and Gloria didn’t seem to mind. His kids didn’t seem to mind either. ’’

[…] Several people who know the Cain family say Gloria and Herman have even lived in separate residences over the years. “They stayed together for good face. They’re old school where you stay just because. Herman likes to give the appearance of living this holier-than-thou life. But it’s anything but,” says someone close to the family.

Samuels goes on to cite other “sources close to the campaign” who say Gloria Cain was never thrilled about her husband’s run for the White House, and wants him to end the campaign.

Cain’s attorney Lin Wood – who did his employer absolutely no favors by kicking off the White drama with a hectoring letter to Fox 5 in Atlanta when they broke the story, in which he lectured them on the difference between sexual harassment and wholesome, consensual extramarital affairs – is on the attack against White, whose history is indeed checkered.  He’s been demanding White’s cell phone records, as part of an effort to demonstrate that most of Cain’s text messages were responses to conversations she initiated. 

Fox 5’s investigative team claims to have had a look at those records, which they describe as showing “increased contact between the two in the weeks leading up to our story.”

Cain’s lawyer has asked FOX 5 and Ginger White for her cell phone records. FOX 5 did not provide them because White did not give us permission to do so. So, the I-Team decided to examine that pattern of calls ourselves.

FOX 5 obtained Ginger White’s most recent cell phone bills for October and November. We found 69 text messages and 1 phone call between Ginger White and Herman Cain’s cell phone. This was in the weeks leading up to her on-camera interview with us, where she discussed a 13-year on-again-off-again affair with Cain. 

The frequency of the messages is far greater than earlier cell phone bills examined by the I-Team.

In a one-month period, Ginger White sent 52 texts to Herman Cain’s phone. There were 17 texts from Cain’s phone to White’s, most appear to be responses to her text messages.

The earliest text from Cain was at 4:56 a.m., apparently responding to a text from Ms. White.

This pattern of contact would be advanced by Cain’s defenders as more consistent with his version of the story – White is an old friend he tried to help out financially, and she went public with the “affair” story after unsuccessfully badgering him for more money – than White’s account of a 13-year affair.  It’s not all that difficult to fit White sending 52 messages and getting 17 responses into the context of an affair, however… especially if Cain was breaking it off and White was either angry at him, or pleading with him to change his mind. 

All of which is to say that the public is once again stuck with a damaging allegation that can only be judged by measuring the character and believability of the participants.  This one is better documented than the others, but the documentation is not dispositive.  The accuser is not hiding behind a veil of anonymity, or leaping in front of cameras with a buffoonish celebrity lawyer, and her charges are not as lurid, but that doesn’t make her unimpeachable.

Cain’s initial response was not quite the “how dare you?” outrage one might expect from a man falsely accused of having an affair, particularly not when that man has already been battered with harassment allegations that he did forcefully denounce as scurrilous.  Instead, Cain’s attitude was more like the weary resignation of a man who finally hears the bullet with his name on it.

That doesn’t prove he’s guilty of anything – he did go on to strongly and unequivocally deny White’s allegations during the same conference call with supporters in which he announced his campaign would be coming in for “reassessment” – but it’s a fatal lapse of confidence from a campaign that was already in trouble. 

Most troubling is the general silence of Gloria Cain, whose strong presence on the scene would have broken public opinion more in Herman Cain’s favor.  If White is full of baloney, one might reasonably have expected Gloria to stand powerfully by her man.  Herman Cain says his wife was not aware of his platonic “helper” relationship with Ginger White, so she might reasonably be expected to feel anything from disappointed to exasperation to discover that her husband was quietly doling out money to people she didn’t know, without telling her about it.  I suspect no amount of personal wealth would completely eliminate the possibility of marital tension when a wife discovers her husband is throwing money around behind her back, or vice versa.

The thing is, Herman Cain is running for the presidency of the United States.  He made an astonishing, perhaps even historic, leap into the top tier of candidates, winning the support of many people who barely knew he existed last year.  If Cain is telling the truth, then his character and reputation have come under vicious assault from several women – perhaps in coordination, perhaps acting as lone opportunists – who are trying to scuttle his campaign by absolutely destroying him, at a personal level.

More than Herman Cain’s personal political fortunes are at stake.  If the allegations against him are false, then we will have watched a tiny handful of people, lurking among the thousands he has interacted with during his busy career, destroy him with lies.  Is the public well-served by a world in which a strong candidate for President can be wiped out by three people making wild, unsubstantiated charges?  One of them still hasn’t said exactly what Cain supposedly did.  How hard would it be to round up a half-dozen false accusers to take virtually anyone down – making them instantly “embattled” and then burying them under the “weight” of charges that are never proven valid?

Certainly Gloria Cain understands the stakes… and when voters see her arranging summit meetings with her husband, instead of taking the stage to offer a full-throated defense, their confidence in the continued survival of the Cain campaign understandably suffers.  If you’re a married woman, and your beloved husband was falsely attacked at such a crucial moment in his life – with a deadly insult to the shared treasure of your marriage – would you handle it the way Gloria Cain has? 

Bill Clinton’s media allies understood this perfectly, which is why they gave him a very special episode of “60 Minutes” to bury Gennifer Flowers with Hillary Clinton’s help.  It’s possible to explain all of the evidence and behavior we’ve seen, without believing Ginger White’s allegations… but Gloria Cain could have made it a lot easier for us, and she hasn’t.