The Washington Post Piles on Herman Cain, but Doesn't Bring the Goods

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The front page of The Washington Post takes a couple of new shots at Herman Cain today, looking beyond his recent to scandal to suggest that the real problem with his job at the National Restaurant Association is that he wasn't very good at it.

The main A1 story, under the headline, "For Cain, some troubles as trade group chief," mentions "problems" and "struggles" for the president candidate when he was the head of the NRA in the late 1990s. But digging into the actual story, it's hard to see what exactly those struggles were. There plenty of quotes from former colleagues, saying that Cain was likable and outgoing and had a talent for schmoozing with Washington power brokers — all important skills when you work in hospitality. But despite five named authors and researcher, the article has a harder time listing any actual troubles Cain had doing his job.

The story (in the third paragraph from the end) says "Some colleagues say he had difficulty with his new job," but it's never made clear what those difficulties were. It's implied that Cain spent too much money and wasn't all that interested in managing a large staff (or taking orders from the association's board), but there's almost no concrete examples of Cain's problems as a leader. The only on the record complaint is that he didn't have the "temperament" to be an association executive, but that doesn't mean he wasn't doing what he was paid for. The article even explicitly says that he helped raise the organization's profile in Washington, DC; a pretty important goal for a trade group.

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The second front page story holds a little more water, focusing on Cain's response to the sexual harassment scandal and how it has underscoring his flaws as a candidate. (Inexperience, unpreparedness, and a lack of discipline.) Despite having 10 days notice of the Politico report, his campaign has botched the damage control in almost every way imaginable.  Of course, authors Karen Tumulty and Aaron Blake do acknowledge that Cain's rough edges and "unconventional" style are the only reason he's in this race at all. A slick, well-packaged answer to every problem is exactly what his fans don't want. (Although we're not sure if this angry defense ad helps either.) He's doesn't call himself a maverick, he's just acts like one.

In the end, no matter what one thinks of these stories, the real lesson is that this is the kind of scrutiny that befalls and presidential candidate who finds themselves leading national polls. Scandals or no scandals, it remains to be seen if Herman Cain will survive the examination.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.