Dude, it’s not because you’re a “businessman.”

Rachel Maddow on Herman Cain's "performance art"Rachel Maddow has an ongoing critique of the Herman Cain performance art project campaign on her MSNBC show. Some of the fancy-footwork highlights and general Cain nutty goodness from the Nov. 8 broadcast:

CAIN: Will the businessman by the name of Herman Cain step forward? Here I am. Because that’s the person Herman Cain is. But you see? That’s one thing about Herman Cain that I think a lot of the American people know, and that is just because it’s tough is no reason for me not to do what I feel like I have to do. Some people don’t want to see Herman Cain get the Republican nomination and some people don’t want Herman Cain to become president of the United States of America…The machine to keep a businessman out of the White House is going to be relentless.

Uh, whut now?

Other amusing semantic game-playing:

CAIN: I cannot say that it is a conspiracy. We do not have definitive, factual proof. We can only look at some coincidences to suggest that maybe someone is deliberately behind this. So, we have not been able to make any determination to point any fingers or place any blame on anybody at this point. When we step back and look at the fact that there’s no facts, no factual evidence to back these up, we can only infer that someone is trying to basically wreck my character…

Yep, the fact that there’s no facts can only lead to the conclusion that someone is trying to “wreck” your “character.” We couldn’t conclude, of course, that the women you sexually harassed are actually telling the truth. And as far as wrecking your character goes, dude, I think you demonstrated the content of it pretty clearly, when you tried to coerce and force women to have sex with you.

Oh, and on the very important difference between “settlement” and “agreement”:

CAIN: I’ve been criticized by some members of the media that I have changed my story. When the firestorm started a week ago Monday, I was presented with the accusation of some settlement was made. Settlement to me means there were legal implications. Later during that same day, I then recalled after all those years that there was an agreement. That’s what businesses sign with employees who are departing the company. They call it an agreement. Settlement implies legal implications. All of the potential legal implications or ramifications or accusations were found to be baseless.

I have much more confidence in Cain after that, because all my jobs pay me a year’s severance ($35,000) for no reason other than that I’m “departing the company.” Don’t yours?

The most important part of this show, though, was a brilliant conversation between Rachel and Melissa Harris-Perry of Tulane University — an incredibly rare event in mainstream media, a discussion BETWEEN WOMEN of the way women are portrayed in the media and how that affects politics and real life, and how we can talk to each other about it. Watch the clip (Harris-Perry interview starts at about 5:50).

That might seem like feminism 101 to us, but to hear the truth about the matrix spoken from inside the matrix — I still kinda can’t believe it.

Transcript of that interview after the fold for those who can’t access the video.

MADDOW: Joining us now is Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of political science at Tulane University and MSNBC contributor. Melissa, it’s great to see you. Thank you for being here…Once again the Republican presidential politics of the day are about Herman Cain and sexual abuse allegations. He seems to be making the case the allegations have been good for him, raising a ton of money. Other candidates should seek these allegations, too, because they let you run against the media, the conspiracy. What do you make of that?

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, a little bit of both actually. This is one of the moments where none of my political science models made any sense. And so, I went and talked to some folks today and spoke with a woman who was working in a shop and she said to me, I feel so bad for Mr. Cain because he seems like such a nice guy and why would anybody wait a decade to tell this story? And so, clearly these are people trying to bring this nice guy down. I said, what is it that makes you think he’s a nice guy? What are the things about him? She says, well, you know, I think that 9-9-9 plan might mean I have to pay more taxes, but he has a plan. He has something I can understand. So, then I backed up and said, okay, the one model that makes sense to me here is this. One of the things that challengers always benefit from is very low information. People just don’t know much and so, they take just a few cues and then they form pretty actual durable opinions based on those very initial cues. And Herman Cain is doing a beautiful art project here. He is performing the kind of strong Republican who no matter what you say against me, I’m always going to stick to my story. Sarah Palin did this when the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter came out and said, you will not use this against me in typical ways. George W. Bush used this when the tide turned against the war in Iraq and said nonetheless, I will send in a surge. This has been the way that the Republicans have demonstrated we have backbone, we’re strong, you can’t beat us with all of the things that you normally would use to discredit a candidate.

MADDOW: On the substance of of the woman who you spoke with today, though — on the substance of the idea the sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Cain are suspect because they happened a decade ago and people didn’t talk about them until now, well, he was never a front-runner with a real chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination before now. And so, people are presumably bringing these forward because it’s a question about a character of a guy who’s about to be in a very, very powerful position. Is that a — is that a — Is that a hard to grasp concept?

HARRIS-PERRY: Not necessarily. So, you know, when I responded to her, the reason this woman had not come forward previously, she didn’t actually work for the organization. So, she had not filed the sexual harassment claim. That’s not what was going on here. You can understand why you wouldn’t file a claim in court. Because there was not enough that happened in a he said/she said to actually get a criminal conviction. She saw, yes, that makes sense to me. But still, I wonder, why didn’t these other people? I said, you know, they’re actually bound by an agreement that says they can’t talk about it. She was like, oh, wow. But it occurs to me that in our current discourse around women and who women are, we have this language that women are these money grubbers, they’re gold diggers. And what they do is go after powerful men, they claim false paternity suits, they claim false rape claims, they claim sexual assault. We should always look at any woman with suspicion. We should always suspect she’s just after a powerful man for his money, that this framework, part of our kind of popular culture, this degrading of women, I think has actually infected our political understandings as well.

MADDOW: And it is seeing these women who have come forward, getting their names dragged through the mud and seeing them get outed even as they’re trying to preserve their anonymity. Some of them is deja vu all over again.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely.

MADDOW: Melissa Harris-Perry, Tulane political science professor, MSNBC contributor and pal — it’s nice to see you here. Thanks for being there.

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