How do you reconcile the fact that a Republican candidate is performing poorly -- embarrassingly, objectively -- with prior beliefs -- passionate, vociferous -- that it's all the liberal media's fault? This is the quandary that some conservative commentators who were once Herman Cain's biggest fans find themselves. Their way out: you say it's not about the candidate, or the ideas, but the management of the campaign. You say the candidate won't let go of his terrible advisers out of misplaced loyalty. That implies the candidate is too pure for this nasty, nasty media environment, while still urging the candidate to get out while he can keep the scrap of dignity he has left.

These days, it is Cain who is not ready for prime time. It's not that any of his supporters actually believes the four women who accused Cain of sexual harassment in the 1990s were telling the truth, and it's not that Cain mishandled explaining what happened -- it's his advisers who failed him. RedState's Erick Erickson wrote a Dear Herman letter Thursday, saying, "It is abundantly obvious to a lot of us Herman that you are not living up to your own words. You said you would surround yourself with the best people -- the competent people to help you." And yet spokesman J.D. Gordon has struggled, and campaign manager Mark Block said two things that were demonstrably untrue on TV. "Herman, you said you’d surround yourself with the best people and you’ve surrounded yourself with Class A failures." Hot Air's Ed Morrissey agrees, "Loyalty is an admirable quality, but flat-out incompetence and the failure to correct it is not, especially in an executive. Herman Cain may very well be innocent of these accusations, but Mark Block offered two unsubstantiated accusations in less than a week, both of which the campaign had to retract, in response to the allegations. If Block went off the reservation to do that, the proper remedy for an executive would be to replace him immediately." Morrissey later had to update with a defense of his criticisms, saying, "Cain’s defenders in the comments section are mainly saying that Cain doesn't answer to media types like … Erick and me."

Other candidates who've surged and faded have had the blame placed on their staff problems -- Bachmann "isn't the best manager," Hot Air's Tina Korbe lamented, Power Line's John Hinderaker said Rick Perry was making a terrible mistake by floating the idea of not participating in more debates. But though a ton of conservatives are now demanding Cain's campaign manager be sacrificed for the sins of the last 10 days, the Cain campaign isn't budging. The Washington Times reports:

"A highly placed Cain source sent the Water Cooler an e-mail: "This is a hysterically funny rumor. The Inside the Beltway crowd is in the midst of a nervous breakdown regarding the success the Cain campaign is having with the American people. Mr. Cain believes in the old adage, 'You continue to dance with the one that brung ya' to the dance.'"