It’s rare that two very public implosions occur almost simultaneously or resonate so well with one another as the the crashing and burning of Herman Cain’s presidential campaign and Eddie Long’s marriage and ministry. It’s even rarer that two high profile “players” like Cain and Long (or Long and Cain, or even Long/Cain, if you prefer) have the bluffs called so spectacularly and fold so publicly.
For a blogger, it’s difficult to resist either story, considering “how snide and vicious” one could get “and still write nothing but the truth.” For one such as myself, who’s written about both men, it’s impossible to resist.
Some of the parallels between the two are innocuous: both are black ministers, both are from Georgia, both have amassed significant amounts of personal wealth. Other parallels are innocuous: both, if the allegations against them are true, rose to fame pretending to be something they were not, and both were publicly revealed as frauds.
Ironically, in the long run, neither may suffer much for it.
In both cases, it as allegations of adultery that cracked the facade. In most cases, I’ll agree with E.J. Graff that adultery “private consensual behavior,” that may violate the marriage vows of those accused, but isn’t the business of anyone who isn’t married to them. But I think adultery is public business when public persons hold themselves of a defenders of or examples of the very “moral values” they flout behind closed doors. (And, yes, as a gay man I take even more personally when such persons invoke my marriage as a threat to the sanctity of their own, even as they make a mockery of their own vows.)
From the start of his campaign, Herman Cain defined himself as the man to fix America’s “moral crisis.” He called himself “an ardent defender of traditional marriage.” But according to people who know Herman Cain and his family, his marriage was anything but traditional.
A close friend of one Cain's two children explained that Herman and Gloria Cain's marriage has seen its share of trouble over the years and his attraction to other women always played a huge role in the friction.
"It never felt like a real marriage when I was around them,'' says the friend. "Mostly he was always gone and his wife seemed to be OK with it. Not being together seemed the norm for their marriage, and Gloria didn't seem to mind. His kids didn't seem to mind either. ''
The friend noted that when Cain was around, he seemed completely in his own world.
"He was king of his castle and no one questioned him,'' says the friend. "It was an uncomfortable set-up for an outsider like me to be around. He was so indifferent to everyone. But I liked Gloria. She was warm and kind."
Several people who know the Cain family say Gloria and Herman have even lived in separate residences over the years. "They stayed together for good face. They're old school where you stay just because. Herman likes to give the appearance of living this holier-than-thou life. But it's anything but," says someone close to the family.
Well, that explains the corporate apartment Cain allegedly invited at least one woman to. Of course, Cain needed an apartment near the airport because he “travelled so much.” Add up the allegations of sexual harassment and/or assault and you get a portrait of a player.
Satire aside, I think we're getting a clear picture of Herman Cain's character, if you believe the 5 women who have come forward to talk about the Herman they know. Cain would appear to have been an ambitious hard-driving executive at the NRA who blew off steam by spending time with women other than his wife. A wife that remained in Omaha Nebraska with the kids while he mostly lived and worked in DC. He made some pretty desperate advances to women until he found one who accepted them. Sadly, I'm guessing that there's more than one woman out there with a long term relationship.
Cain wanted it all -- the comfort of a loving, secure family and the life of a hardcore player. Players may not hate on that but the question is whether a player can become president these days. Bill Clinton survived his "bimbo explosions" as they were called with the help of his wife. Cain tried that strategy in trotting out his poor wife Gloria to defend him, just as Hillary Clinton did back in the day. But we've all been there and done that. I think we all sense on some level that President Herman Cain might be a danger to the White House's interns. An attractive lobbyist for something as awful as guns or tobacco or banking might be able to turn his head and his opinions.
And not just a player, but a player who thought he had his “game” down, to the point that he assumed none of these women would ever come forward.
Another family friend says Gloria Cain was never a fan of her husband's "look at me'' tendencies or his run for office, even though Cain assured her it wouldn't require much of her physically or emotionally. He was wrong.
"This is a very arrogant man,'' says the friend. "It probably never occurred to him that all these women would eventually come out. It's funny to see him talk about the toll on his wife. He never thought of that before.''
Sources close to the campaign say Gloria Cain wants her husband to leave the race and has no desire to do additional interviews about their marriage or the constant accusations. They describe a woman angry that her life has been turned upside down by her husband's need for attention and power by any means.
There’s a certain level of narcissism here, on the John Edwards scale, if not something else or something worse (like delusion) to believe that he was somehow above it all. It would have been incredibly damaging to Republicans if Cain had actually gotten on the ticket as veep (because we all know he was never going to get the nomination), and then these allegation had come out. (Which is why I’m convinced that someone on the right is responsible for these allegations coming forward. Democrats just didn’t have any compelling reasons to want Cain out of the race. Republicans had lots of them.)
And any player is really part predator, homing in on the most vulnerable, the most susceptible. Women like Bialek, who was looking for help finding a job, were vulnerable. Women who worked under him, over whom he had some authority, and whose livelihood he could impact directly were vulnerable.
And then there’s Ginger White. In her interview with the Daily Beast, White comes across as sympathetic, mainly because she’s unsparing of herself in accounting not just her alleged affair with Cain, but putting the affair in the context of her own life -- including details about evictions, business failures, bankruptcies, court cases, etc., that most people would be embarrassed to have become public knowledge. What comes through most strongly is the her desperation and the power dynamic in a relationship that was anything but a relationship between equals.
But White had no illusions about her relationship with Cain, she said. "Never was I in love with him," she said. "In the beginning I was naive and intrigued by this person. Initially it was exciting, but when I started knowing who he was, it became less and less fun. The more time I spent around him and the more trips we took, I started liking him less. He was very flirtatious with other women when we were out together and very chauvinistic at times. I would say something about corporate America or sexual harassment in the workplace, or something about men and women, and he would give me the impression that he thought the man was always right. When I got involved with a sexual harassment case, he said, 'Are you sure you want to do that, because you're going to lose your job.' I said, 'Yes, absolutely I do.'"
"There's nothing earth-shattering about that," said Wood. "It certainly sounds like someone who is a friend giving some advice."
... White said that over the years, her arrangement with Cain took an emotional toll. "One time we were having sex, and I was looking up at the ceiling, thinking about, 'What am I going to buy at the grocery store tomorrow? What am I going to do with my kids tomorrow?'" she recalled. "One time after we had sex, I cried. He said, 'Maybe we shouldn't do this for a while.' So maybe he did have a heart--or half a heart. But I knew I needed his financial help."
That’s why it’s ironic that a man who considered himself something of a player, who was so up on his game that not only borrowed his economic plan from SimCity, but quoted from theme from the Pokemon movie when he announced that he was suspending his campaign, in the end chose to hide behind his wife’s skirt when it came to making a decision about his campaign, instead of putting on his big boy britches and making the decision himself.
And then there’s Eddie Long.
Bishop Eddie Long, head of one of the nation’s largest mega churches, announced Sunday he will take “time off” from the pulpit to work on his family.
The announcement came three days after his wife Vanessa filed for divorce.
Although her husband’s church issued a statement Friday, attributed to Vanessa Long, saying she was withdrawing the divorce petition, her attorney said she was proceeding with it.
2010: I’m not perfect, but I will fight, Long says 2010: Accuser’s message for Bishop Long 2010: Eddie Long responds to allegations 2010: Bishop Long’s sex case mediation
Last spring, Long, head of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, settled a lawsuit filed by four young men who accused him of pressuring them into sexual relationships while they were teenagers and members of the congregation.
He denied the allegations against him.
“I’m going to take a little time off to work with my family,” Long said Sunday to a packed house at the televised service.
What can I say about Long that I haven’t already said? As with Cain, the number and similarity of allegations against Long, combined with his decision to settle them out of court, paint a portrait of another player, just in a different field.
If the allegations against Long are true, Long was as much a predator as player -- like Cain and perhaps like Penn State’s George Sandusky -- exploiting his power and authority to take advantage of those he felt had the least ability to fight back.
I think what galls me most about players like Cain and Long is that they don’t “walk their talk.”
Long, like too many African American ministers on the “down low,” has erected his bully pulpit denouncing gays while using his clerical authority to court and to covet vulnerable young fatherless males.
During his infamous anti-gay march in December 2004 titled “Stop the Silence,” which denounced same-sex marriage, Long stated, “In essence, God made Eve to help Adam replenish the earth. Woman has the canal…everything else is an exit. …Cloning, homosexuality, and lesbianism are spiritual abortions. Homosexuality is a manifestation of the fallen man.”
Both Long and Cain were on the “down low,” while pretending to be upstanding. Yet they led others to look askance at someone like me. And for a long time, they got rewarded for it, and may yet be forgiven for it. Herman Cain will probably be rehabbed to Fox News. Long will return to his pulpit or find another one somewhere else.
I’ve heard the phrase “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” But when the game is rigged and the players crooked, sometimes I think a little hate is warranted.