Look: we're not going to B.S. you today. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know this week has been consumed by the multiple allegations of sexual harassment levied against 2012 frontrunner Herman Cain, dating back to the 1990s, and everything that followed after that. Namely, the denials, the reversals, the defenses, the accusations of dirty play (Politico is racist! Rick Perry probably did it!), and many moments featuring Cain awkwardly interacting with the press. We've heard that new ringtone of Herman Cain bellowing, "Excuse me! EX-CUSE ME!" maybe 700 times. Which remind us to ask those of you who have been living under a rock: are you subletting space? We are very clean and quiet people. Please let us know!
If you weren't a 2012 contender named "Herman Cain," you probably got to take the week off. The media essentially gave you a pass. If you didn't want to talk about Herman Cain (some did, most didn't, Rick Perry wasn't given much of a choice after Cain's campaign blamed his for spilling the story to Politico), then you didn't have to say anything to the press. And that's pretty significant, when you consider that you didn't hear all that much noise being made over Mitt Romney's Ponzi scheme pals, or Michele Bachmann's Ponzi scheme pals, or that new dumb concern about Jon Huntsman's Mandarin skills.
Hell, Cain himself benefitted from the distraction. Yeah, he got caught up in those allegations, and made a name for himself as a foreign policy dullard by not realizing that China had nuclear weapons, but he hasn't had to worry that much about his own campaign finance funny business, which we bet the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel thought was going to be a huge story.
The Cain story broke a few hours too late for Rick Perry, who set eyebrows at full arch during his keynote speech to the Cornerstone Action annual dinner, which looked for all the world as if he had done two tabs of Ecstacy before he started speaking. And then came that moment where he went moony-eyed and fondlesome over a bottle of maple syrup that the organization gave him as a gift. Lots of people wondered if Perry was okay, but days after Cain began his long dark period of struggle, Perry was back on the air, flexing his considerable fundraising muscles with positive ads in the early primary states.
We can basically sum up this week in one graph, frankly:
Of course, this meant that Romney had another stealthily good week. Romney's found a shrewd strategy in this race so far: stay away from the media and let the rest of the field implode. It's working like gangbusters. So much so that Obama's reelection campaign has all but determined that it's the former Massachusetts Governor that they'll be facing next year. Already, the White House is sharpening its attacks on Romney, and the campaign is devising its long-term strategy against him.
And on that score, your conventional Beltway analysis is also beginning to form: can Obama run a negative campaign while keeping his shirt clean? This is sort of premised on the notion that running a negative campaign will somehow be a new thing for Obama. But the facts say otherwise. Let's say it aloud together: Barack Obama ran a negative campaign in 2008. Everyone who covered it just decided that it was a positive campaign. Most of those who say that it was positive should know better, but when you're a slave to a narrative of your own making and that narrative is "this is a different and special campaign," that's what you end up believing. And yes, it was a different and special campaign from the perspective of many voters, but for the McCain campaign, it was a lot of negative ads.
Plenty of other stuff happened this week on the campaign trail that was not related to Herman Cain's alleged improprieties. Rick Perry got tripped up by a piece of satire. Mitt Romney earned ire from conservatives over another flip-flop. Buddy Roemer's faint hopes suffered a huge setback. Ron Paul sounded cautious optimism on the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Newt Gingrich got caught in a feud, Fred Karger went to war on juice, Obama got good polling news for once, and can you guess what candidate got compared to a pocketful of smelly string cheese? To find out, please feel free to enter the Speculatron for the week of November 4, 2011.