Take Five (Black Walnut Toast edition)

ONE: “If at first you don’t concede, lie, lie again.”

Five days ago, when the world was a simpler, happier, more innocent and decidedly less informed place, I ran across a piece entitled “Confident Cain plans to cut back campaign events” in which the surprise Republican frontrunner was described as brimming with confidence but also wary about excessive media availability and the possibility of more gaffes detracting from his, uh, positions:

Cain… said he plans to “dial back” his campaign and media appearances in order to avoid missteps. Since climbing in the polls, he has had a series of fumbles, forcing him to clarify comments on abortion, immigration and terrorism suspects.

Cain has chalked up the mistakes to a grueling campaign schedule jammed with media interviews…

At least one Cainophile was willing to cut the candidate some slack:

“I like that if he says something, he’s not afraid to turn around and admit he’s wrong,” said Phil Andrews, of Birmingham, who tried without success to reach the candidate and have him sign his Cain t-shirt.

“He’s human and that’s just fine.”

He’s human, all right, Phil, but whether that’s fine or not is very much an open question. Last weekend, stealth right wing site POLITICO, of all organs, broke the story of sexual harassment allegations leveled against Cain back in the late 90s when he was president of the National Restaurant Association. Suddenly, Cain’s ideas (such as they are) are no longer of interest to anyone at all.

The Cain campaign went into immediate damage-exacerbation mode, with Chief of Staff Mark “Smokey” Block emphatically blaming the Perry campaign:

“The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable. Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology.”

Bret Baier asked Block what kind of evidence he had of this being linked to Perry’s campaign. He said that Curt Anderson, Rick Perry’s advisor, is the source to these lies and believes it’s an “outrage.”

Block might want to have a word with his boss, whose suspicions tended elsewhere in a Monday conversation with the noxious Charles Krauthammer:

… we believe that, yes, there are some people who are Democrats, liberals, who do not want to see me win the nomination.

Cain did, however, leave the door open to other possibilities:

And there could be some people on the right who don’t want to see me because I’m not the, quote/unquote, “establishment candidate.”

Cain’s most immediate problem, though, is not who to blame as long as it’s not himself. It’s that his recollection of the harassment allegations changes nearly as often as Mitt Romney’s policy positions.

Monday on Fox:

When [interviewer] Jenna Lee asked whether there was any sort of settlement, Cain stressed that if there were, he was not aware of it. If the Restaurant Association made a settlement, Cain said, “I wasn’t even aware of it and I hope it wasn’t for much because nothing happened.”

Same day, later, on Fox:

“My general counsel said this started out where she and her lawyer were demanding a huge financial settlement…I don’t remember a number…But then he said because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement.” When van Susteren asked how much money was involved, Cain said, “Maybe three months’ salary.  I don’t remember.  It might have been two months.  I do remember my general counsel saying we didn’t pay all of the money they demanded.”

By Tuesday, the candidate’s story changed again:

… he said in an interview with HLN that it was “in the vicinity of three to six months.”

He was, again, incorrect:

The National Restaurant Association gave $35,000 — a year’s salary — in severance pay to a female staff member in the late 1990s after an encounter with Herman Cain, its chief executive at the time, made her uncomfortable working there, three people with direct knowledge of the payment said on Tuesday.

By Wednesday, even Cain’s memory of his memory seemed faulty:

“… even though I hadn’t had 24 hours to process exactly what I was going to say or I hadn’t had 24 hours to try to recollect some of the details, I wanted to go out in front of it.”

Cain admitted that he wasn’t totally blindsided by the news because his campaign was made aware the story might break 10 days prior… “Could we have started earlier so that I would have been better prepared to be more crisp with responses? Yes, but I still didn’t want to wait because I wanted my supporters to know that I was not about to duck this issue.”

Oh, so it’s just a crispness issue, then? Got it. Just one more thing about this story that makes me think of toast.

TWO:”I know just what you mean, Herman. May I call you Herman?”

If you’ve never checked out The Daily Caller, a website co-founded by former bow-tied-but-now-tieless-asshat Tucker Carlson and former Dick-Cheney-policy-adviser-and-thus-epitome-of-all-that-is-evil-in-this-world Neil Patel, let me spare you the aggro and spare them the hit.

Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a virulent pox on the nation’s body politic in her own proud right, is a regular contributor to The Daily Caller. Just yesterday evening, she sat down with Herman Cain for a little chat. In response to the first question – “Are reporters setting you up to be ‘guilty until proven innocent’?” – Cain responded:

“That is the D.C. culture… guilty until proven innocent.”

After swatting away a question about his recent comments on nuclear-power-since-1964 China seeking nuclear capability, Cain rendered a classic “guilty until proven innocent” judgment on Attorney General Eric Holder over the Operation Fast and Furious affair:

“I have not followed it close enough to say that I want to pile on, but I happen to believe that 30 Congressmen can’t be wrong, in terms of the determination that they have made that suggests that it may be better for him to step down. I trust those 30 Congressmen and the analysis that they have done.”

Oddly, Ginni Thomas’s questions don’t actually appear in TheDC’s video clips, nor is there even an indication that she was in the same room as Herman Cain, but I have no doubt that she personally conducted the interview and deserves every penny of the thousands of dollars she was probably paid for it, and that every bit of that remuneration will be declared by her husband on his mandatory financial disclosure forms, just as he’s always done.

THREE: “Gentlemen, in 30 seconds or less, which of your opponent’s sexual indiscretions do you wish you’d committed first?”

Hang in there, Herman Cain! As satisfying as it’ll be to watch the announcement that you’re withdrawing from the quest for your party’s nomination, I really want you to hang in there long enough to join Newt Gingrich in Saturday’s scheduled “modified Lincoln-Douglas debate“:

Bill O’Sullivan, the treasurer of Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC, tells National Review Online that both candidates have confirmed their attendance at the forum, which will focus on fiscal issues.

Fiscal issues? Perfect! “Our next question is for Herman Cain. Settlement agreements with former employees, Mr. Cain: no settlement, three-month salary equivalent, six months, or a year?”

FOUR: Still Clueless After All These Years

Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw said this on last night’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

“77% of the country, in almost all the polls, say: We want these parties to work together again. But as you know, they’ve been driven to the far corners of the room, and they just don’t even want to communicate with one another.”

Brokaw only began covering national politics in 1973, so maybe he should be forgiven for failing to notice that Democrats, from President Obama on down, have been seeking cooperation from and searching for common ground with Republicans for years now, and have been shunned, badmouthed, slapped down, undermined and sabotaged by those same Republicans on issue after issue after issue important to at least 77% of the country, if not 100%. Were he a little better informed, Brokaw might also have heard about a guy named Ralph Nader, who was similarly myopic about the fundamental differences between the parties.

Greatest threat to the nation? Without question, Republicans. Second greatest? Opportunistic jerks who continue to peddle “both parties are the same” snake oil.

FIVE: “No shirt, no shoes, no hard right non-Muslim bona fides, no service.”

Keller’s Riverside Store in Mason, Texas is a business which, though apparently quite viable, has been in search of an identity since its founding in 1862. It offers goods and services as diverse as a sit-down restaurant (“Atkins Diet routine” and “‘Bandster’ routine” generously accommodated), land and ranch sales, canoe and kayak rentals, music, carved wood bottle stoppers, new and used guns, and – crucially – concealed carry classes.

Current owner and operator Crockett Keller seems to have stumbled at last on a definitive image for the business. Keller’s recent radio ad for the concealed carry classes added this disclaimer:

“If you are a socialist liberal and or voted for the current campaigner in chief, please do not take this class. You have already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as under the law.”

The ad continues, going on to say:

“If you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you the class with no shame; I am Crockett Keller, thank you and God bless America.”

Keller defended both the ad and his own affable open-mindedness by saying:

“I just will not teach these people,” said Keller. “If I see them on the road, I’ll wave at them if they wave at me. If I meet them on the street, I’ll be polite as they are to me, that’s my nature; I believe in being polite and honest and matter of fact.”

He also stated, politely, honestly and as a matter of what he believes is fact:

“The fact is if you are a devout Muslim then you cannot be a true American… Why should I arm these people to kill me, that’s suicide.”

Took damn near a century and a half, but the store finally has an indelible image: Armed Bigot Central. I have no idea if Keller found the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death pleasurable, but if he did, he shouldn’t have. Bin Laden beat the Crockett Kellers of the world a decade ago.