So Herman Cain has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination after a woman came forward with a lurid story of a 13-year sexual relationship with the one-time GOP frontrunner.
My cynical Louisiana-bred reaction? Big mistake to leave the race. In former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ famous formulation, there is no practical reason for any modern-day politician to quit running unless he’s found in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.
Consider David Vitter, still spouting platitudes on the U.S. Senate floor, despite being listed as a frequent guest at a wicked Washington call house. Or, for that matter, the private life of Cain’s successor as the Iowa frontrunner, Newt Gingrich.
No, what Herman Cain should have done on getting word of a pending sex scandal was punch in Edwin Edwards’ number to find out what Edwards advised Bill Clinton when a model named Gennifer Flowers claimed that she had a 12-year relationship with Clinton during his days as attorney general and governor of Arkansas.
As Edwards recalled the occasion, Clinton, then in the early stage of his run for the presidency, got news of the charge while on a fund-raising trip to New Orleans. Concerned about its impact, he asked his fellow Southern governor, Edwards, what he should do.
“I told him,” said Edwards, “that if that sort of claim were made against me I’d say, ‘12 weeks, maybe. Twelve months, maybe. But 12 years? Never.’”
Clinton, a simple Arkansas philanderer who lacked the flair of his Louisiana counterpart, said he didn’t think he could do that. Instead he and Hillary headed for “60 Minutes” and the first of what would be an eight-year series of “Stand by Your Man” reconciliations.
It worked, but I still prefer Edwards’ way. Mendacious perhaps, but it had the virtue of political wit, an element sadly lacking in the current race for the Republican nomination. For that reason alone, we’re going to miss Herman Cain’s presence in the field. He was the only candidate running who could at times be intentionally funny.
Sound Bite to Remember (Occupiers and Tea Party members take note)
“Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.”
— Theodore Roosevelt (1913)