Cain stumbles over past problems

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Cain stumbles over past problems
By Ray Hanania — Herman Cain seemed to rise out of nowhere to take the lead of the Republican pack seeking the ZGOP nomination for president next Spring.

But as fast as he rose, he is fast falling as he stumbles through what is one of the worst PR responses to controversy I have ever seen.

Cain first came to my attention when I heard about his plan to replace the income tax with a 9 percent sales tax plan. While I am still not sure which is better, the income tax or a dramatically increased sales tax, the point is he at least is addressing the issue.

But before I could weigh the benefits and disadvantages of the sales tax as opposed to the income tax, suddenly Cain’s past started to swarm all over him.

He was the head of the National Restaurant Association in 1997, a private institution with a lot of clout. Women who worked with him filed lawsuits against him saying that he sexually harassed them.

Now, it turns out it wasn’t just two women. It was many women, some who came out and some who did not.

Cain’s problem is that he tried to brush the charges off, believing wrongly that controversies like that intensity will go away. They won’t. Sexual harassment is a serious offense. People in power need to mind their conduct and avoid any circumstances that might suggest the exploitation of your workers.

Instead of telling the truth, Cain began by lying saying nothing happened. Then he acknowledge the charges did occur, but said he didn’t know what happened with the complaints. Then he acknowledged that he had stepped aside and let other NRA officers deal with the sensitive issue. Turns out the NRA settled the cases.

Why didn’t he say that?

Well, maybe he was too arrogant. More likely, he is just inexperienced.

Facts often become the victim of perception, and trying to fake up a perception to disguise the facts is even worse. Once Cain said what he said, and it was later contradicted, no amount of re-telling the story will change things.

Public officials need to know what they are going to say before they say it. Once you say something, you can’t change it. You can be humble and apologize and grab the bull by the horns. Or, you can be like Cain and be arrogant and start believing all the celebrity media coverage he started to receive. That attention was quite a change for him and the lure of being in front of the national lights, or that an unknown could come out of the shadows and become president, would certainly be an overpowering enticement.

The real victim in this is not Cain, who is now blaming it all on the news media. Another major political misstep on his part. Blaming others and not taking responsibility is exactly the kind of behavior that America does not need. We don’t need someone who wants to avoid responsibility. America needs a leader who can accept responsibility.

There are not too many people running for office like that, tragically.

Worse in all this is that the needed debate about whether we should have a sales tax or an income tax will be missed. On one hand, I like the sales tax – you are taxed based on how much you spend, not on income.

But, there are questions. Will this hurt the poor who pay less in income tax but probably more on purchases?

That’s Cain’s fault, though. No one elses.

(Ray Hanania is back on radio at WSBC AM1240 every Sunday from 8 am until 11 am. Check him out at

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania