Herman Cain managed to find a fews laughs in the latest sexual assault claims made against him when he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. Unfortunately, as the charges against him become serious, simply laughing them off is no longer a good option.
To be fair, Cain was put in a tough spot, being previously scheduled to appear on a comedy show just hours after a woman stepped forward to accuse him of sexual assault. (And it is sexual assault, the way she described it.) However, when Kimmel jokes about Cain's quote that "When people get on the Cain train, they don't get off" or suggests that other candidates should find their own sexual harassment accusers to drum up fundraising, it doesn't look very presidential to rise to the bait.
Then again, not looking presidential is the key to Cain's entire enterprise.
The show did give him a chance to state that the latest accusations were "totally fabricated" and without "an ounce of truth" and he did try to the push off the serious talk to a press conference later today. But he should have either avoided the topic completely (and the inevitable cracking of jokes that comes with the late night territory) or canceled the appearance altogether. Or alternatively, he could have delivered a more forceful and serious denunciation of the charges that would have firmly established his stance on the matter. The middle ground of wisecracks simply shows him being un-serious in a serious time. (As does referring to every accusation against him as a "firestorm.")
The one thing we can say about Cain, though, is that his approach to these scandals remains unchanged and continues to play into the very powerful idea (among his supporters anyway) that this is politics as usual and he refuses to play by those rules. If there's any chance for this latest incident to finally grind his campaign to a halt, there was no sign of that happening last night.
You can watch the whole interview below, via YouTube:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.