POLITICS

Letting Herman be Herman: A new column by ABC7's Scott Thuman

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Welcome back, readers. Yes, it’s been a while as we worked to launch my new column, “Thuman’s CAPITOL Thoughts” with the real emphasis being our nation’s nerve center and the minute-by-minute changes that shape the world we live in and drastically alter the microcosm of politics with every turn.

What will you get from this column and by signing up to get my RSS feed, tweets & Facebook updates? Expect the latest breaking news and developments on what I consider to be the biggest political story at that time.

Be caught up in the roller coaster ride that is everything from the Herman Cain saga to Obama’s unemployment albatross to complete coverage leading up to “Election Day 2012."

My promise to you is this: I will be fair. I will praise regardless of party and I will scrutinize any who deserve it, whether they have a D, R, I or any other identifier after his or her name. Partisanship will not play a role. If someone on the Hill screws up and needs to be held accountable, no punches will be pulled or embellished to make one party appear superior to the other. On the other hand, kudos will be allotted for any who deserve them.

Finally, you the viewer & reader are intellectual and savvy. I recognize this. I would not insult you by trying to pull wool over your eyes. It’s been said this is the smartest media market in the entire country. So, please write/Tweet/call/Facebook your reactions, thoughts and suggestions. I vow to post them and share conflicting opinions even if they might be considered unflattering to this author.

In other words, let’s have some fun - no boring blog here.

That leads right into my first mini-column.

LETTING HERMAN BE HERMAN

Letting Herman be himself, as he likes to tout, is exactly what we are doing. I’ve gotten my share of nasty emails and messages in the wake of last week’s coverage of Mr. Cain and his angry lashing-out at the media (yes, that was me he was barking at in the now infamous “Excuse me!” exchange prompted by my questions). Mind you though, that particular incident came only AFTER his team abruptly cancelled a question-and-answer session we were invited to, so media gathered in a hallway to ask the driving question of the day.

On Wednesday, one week after that testy exchange, Mr. Cain finally addressed some of the accusations with his own press conference. He is still defiant and calling his accusers, at least four of them now, liars.

Those women now appear poised to strike back. Joel Bennett, the attorney for Sharon Bialek, told me Wednesday he hopes to get all four women together for a joint press conference in which they can lay out detailed claims.

The pressure is rising.

In some ways, Herman being Herman has paid off. He’s pulled in $2 million in online fundraising in the week immediately following POLITICO’s article that broke the story. His poll numbers are still lofty by anyone’s standards (even over Rick Perry, in Texas, among GOP voters) and his popularity is shocking considering four months ago almost no one outside the food industry or his radio listeners seemed to know his name.

But there are pitfalls: Some Iowans who earlier ignored the allegations of harassment are beginning to take note with cautious concern. Two accusers have put a face on this scandal by coming forward. The steady-handed Mitt Romney seems happy to let HC be HC in a destructive manner that could remove him from contention- although Cain says that “ain’t gonna happen.”

The media is not here to make or break a candidate. That is the candidate's task alone. We are simply here to report. Mark Block, Cain’s chief of staff,  angrily told me the other day “Scott, we’re not going to play by your rules anymore” while insisting that this story has no credence because the women are ‘anonymous’.

Aside from Sharon Bialek and Karen Kraushaar, the women accusing Cain of inappropriate behavior have remained out of the spotlight (and their motives are up for you to judge). But the checks written to two of the accusers were hardly written out to “Anonymous” for a total of roughly $80,000. These women exist, the settlements exist and the accusations (now numbering anywhere between four and five) while not proven, are serious.

What the media keep relaying is that they do exist and are pursuing some clarification from Cain.

The Cain camp’s newest defense: telling journalists to read the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, implying journalists have broken a rule. We have not. I have not. We have shed light on a series of claims, albeit from a decade ago, that could also allow us to know more about a man who wants to become the next President of the United States. How he chooses to handle this, how he reacts (having earlier changed his story three times in 36 hours) will be pivotal in many people’s decision making.

So, we will let Herman be Herman. He has opted to make jokes on Jimmy Kimmel and blame others for these attacks. I will opt to keep asking the tough questions until there is a fair amount of clarity. Clarity that may absolve him of any wrongdoing…or that may paint Cain in a very uncomfortable corner.

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