There’s long been a chasm between both the behavior and politics of Mitt Romney and the Republican’s “flavor of the week,” to quote Herman Cain.
But while past short-time front runners like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have been relegated to the back of the field when their bizarre behavior distracted voters from their politics, Cain seems to have survived both a horrifying scandal and countless gaffes.
It seems like Romney is also buried in the numerous “gaffes” he made, but they look a lot different than those made by his often hilarious opponents. Romney’s mistake of governing one of the bluest states in the country as a political moderate is more forgivable, or even seen as a plus to most independents, as opposed to Bachmann’s random alarmist cries of vaccines causing mental retardation.
Cain’s gaffes have been both consistently strange and intentional, with the exception the discovery of two decade-old sexual harassment suits which, based on how much one of women was able to settle for, seem to have some merit. Luckily for Cain, Gloria Allred’s involvement in the case will make it incredibly difficult for anyone to take his accuser seriously.
As a point of reference, the most embarrassing thing reporters have been able to dig up on Romney is that he fired a company for sending illegal immigrants to work on his property, in part because he didn’t want to run on something and not follow through with it himself.
The two have also adapted completely opposite strategies for dealing with the news media. Romney has spent his time on the campaign trail, often lending support to Republican candidates for local offices, and has taken advantage of the endless stream of primary debates, where he tends to perform relatively well. He’s raised money and spent time reaching out to voters in primary states, just like every other candidate before him.
But if Romney’s strategy is to appeal to consumers of the mainstream news media and make connections through traditional politics, Cain’s strategy seems to be the opposite. By expressing interest in suing Politico, and by complaining about his unfair treatment, Cain is showing that he’s not interested in dealing with any criticism, legitimate or otherwise. The victim narrative didn’t work for Bush, and it won’t work for Cain.
Trying to wade through Cain’s logic verges on impossible. On the one hand, he believes that journalists can be sued for reporting something that actually happened. On the other, he thinks that it’s okay to randomly accuse Rick Perry of uncovering the story.
In an ideal world, the potential President of the United States would hold himself to at least the same standard that he held other people to just a couple of days earlier. Also, he would put less energy into offending the people of Uzbekistan.
The only person Cain has been friendly with is Newt Gingrich, a man who shut down the government in the ‘90s by refusing to compromise. When they debated on Saturday, Cain had nothing but compliments for Gingrich – not to mention a hint that he’d choose the former speaker as his running mate.
As much as Romney wants to ingratiate himself with the Republican base, there are no indications that he’d be willing to become as destructive as Gingrich was. And in this primary season, that’s enough to set Romney far apart from almost everyone else.