Haven’t we seen this movie before?
I have to admit, though, it’s sort of fun to watch it blow up in the faces of liberals who gloated for a decade about how all the allegations about Bill Clinton and the cover-ups of his sordid affairs weren’t as important as how he ran the country – to them, it was all a sideshow from Republicans who were angry they couldn’t beat him at the ballot box. (Never mind there was perjury enough for Clinton to be disbarred.)
Now these same people are hounding Herman Cain about allegations of sexual harassment from over a decade ago, where many of the accusers aren’t going public and the one who did, Sharon Bialek, has a checkered past. Still, Cain continues to poll well and that leads me to believe that sexual peccadilloes, whether real or imagined, aren’t the third rail of politics anymore. Perhaps the populace was desensitized to the sexual harassment angle after Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, and the long trail of women who reportedly had dalliances with our (married) 42nd President.
And I thought it wasn’t about sex. By many accounts Herman Cain did a good job while he was in the office of the National Restaurant Association, so why are we worried about his personal life?
It’s kind of amazing that none of this came out until the powers that be realized that, hey, wait, Cain may not just be the flavor of the month. Instead, he’s quite possibly the last man standing between the ‘establishment’ candidate, Mitt Romney, and the GOP nomination. We’ve seen several others (Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry) peak and then fall by the wayside, but Cain has held a pretty good polling position ever since he announced his 9-9-9 plan. I suppose if you don’t like the message, you have to slay the messenger.
So let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Cain is guilty of making unwanted sexual comments and overtures. Then the question would be: does this rise to the level of an impeachable offense? Herman hasn’t lied before a grand jury because the cases were settled before ever going to a jury. In the latest case, Bialek opted not to follow through on her accusations until now despite the passage of fourteen years. Amazing what a rise in the GOP Presidential polls (and perhaps prodding from a high-powered celebrity lawyer) can do for people’s memories.
But this story will continue to drag on for some time, and I’m sure the remainder of the GOP Presidential hopefuls are privately hoping it doesn’t go away because there may be a time where these continual allegations begin to take a toll on the frontrunner. Don’t be surprised, though, if there’s no effort to find other skeletons in the closet for some of the other contenders: Newt Gingrich is too easy, Rick Perry perhaps vulnerable on the “crony capitalist” front, and certainly they have tried to dig up dirt on Mitt Romney to save for an October surprise. (On the other hand, we don’t receive this level of scrutiny for the current occupant of the Oval Office.)
Yet the precedent has now been set. If you’re going to excuse perjury and accusations of actual rape because they don’t rise to the level of importance assigned to that task of running the nation, then I can’t see why Herman Cain isn’t getting that same hall pass for incidents which are far less severe. Americans are seeing through the whole Cain affair because those who defended Bill Clinton simply because he was a liberal doing liberal things set the template that way. Every time a GOP candidate gains a level of popularity that makes those in control uncomfortable, out come the long knives of smear and innuendo – they tried it with Sarah Palin and hounded her out of the race because she’s damaged goods.
Simply put, Herman Cain is not the establishment choice for President, which creates a lot of his appeal. And something tells me that there are those who see his candor and lack of political correctness as a weakness to exploit.
But when you look at what Herman Cain stands for and how he would likely govern, you find the most important part. And I’ll resist the temptation to impugn the character of the accuser, however, her past is her past and one can judge accordingly. None of us are saints.
It’s unfortunate, though, that this vital race has come down to a game of “he said, she said.” How about talking about the record of the incumbent?