Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cain, In Context

So, now we've got this woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted by Cain.  Not harassed, but assaulted--unwanted physical touching of an intimate nature, and with a level of crudity that surpasses any simple flirtation.  And, to be clear, even if there WERE "only" simple flirtation,  that would still be the kiss of death for me when dealing with a fellow who was (and is) not just married, but a minister.


Yeah, there's a but.  If it's true, it's damning.  And I may have to eat crow down the road on this.  But I still don't think it's true.  We have a case of he-said, she-said.  No witnesses, no evidence.  We have affadavits that she told two people long ago that she felt uncomfortable, but provided no details (I cannot imagine my wife or girlfriend saying something like that and me just blowing it off).  We have this story which is so darned weird--it seems like the whole scene could have been cut from some low-budget caricature of a documentary on sexual harassment.  If you told me he had tried to steal a kiss, or whisper in her ear, or something like that, maybe.  But straight for the crotch?  Dude, I don't know any 17-year-olds whose game is that bad.  And we've got the woman's personal history of terminations, lawsuits, bankruptcy, even dishonesty over paternity... and the presence of Gloria Allred.  Any one or two of these would draw a presumption of his innocence from me.  The preponderance of all of them is enough to send up a host of red flags.

But, they say, this is woman #4 (or is it 5?).  But it's not.  We have non-specific allegations of unspecified complaints, resulting in teeny-tiny settlements by a third party (settlements of a sort that indicates nothing, in most cases).  Even what little we have heard, "gestures of a non-sexual nature," doesn't make any darned sense.  I just can't string this guy up on such flimsy evidence.  And some of the "gotcha" stuff doesn't do anything for me.  When I read, "he said her story was 100% false, but they really DID meet!"  I don't see that as bad at all.  I think anyone with a middle school command of the English language can understand that he is denying the allegations of misconduct, and not claiming that the woman's every word is false, right down to "and" and "the."

However, here's what I'm NOT going to do.  Despite the completely blatant double-standard involved, I'm not going to defend him on the grounds that it wasn't "really" harassment based on some legalistic parsing of the word.  I'm not going to claim that it's OK because he complied with the Clinton "one free grope" rule, and quit after she said to stop.  I'm not going to say that he was only flirting, or that perhaps somehow the woman involved led him on and then pulled a bait and switch.  If Herman Cain, a married Christian man, made a pass, crude or otherwise, at this woman, then he is done, in my book.

Sadly, I don't think that's the case, at least not yet.  But it won't matter.  Without the help of a compliant media like Clinton had, this charge, even if proven 100% untrue, is fatal to Cain's campaign.  I'm reminded of Casey Stengel's famous quote about baseball: "Can't anybody around here play this game anymore?"  I think he would be a good vice-president.  But it's not going to happen.

Maybe I'll take another look at Gingrich.  For years I've always said he was unelectable because of demanding a divorce from his dying-of-cancer wife while she was in the hospital.  Now it turns out that the story on that was completely false (once again, the lie can circle the globe before the truth laces up its boots).  Otherwise, we're looking at Romney.  Ugh.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Cain Train

I've got a few thoughts on Herman Cain and the GOP race that are not really suitable for Facebook.  And since my buddy Kim says I need to blog more, here's an attempt.

First of all, this "sexual harassment" charge against Cain is terribly frustrating.  For starters, I do not buy the argument that there is any racial component to it.  There is, however an obvious party/ideological component.  While it may be arguable that Cain (like Rubio) represents a unique threat on account of his race, and therefore is even more in need of a good Borking, I do not believe for a second that a white Republican would get treated any differently.  If similar rumors swirled around Perry, Romney, or whoever, I am sure they would get the same treatment.  However, a Democrat (regardless of race) would not.  The evidence for this should be obvious: witness the wagon-circling and covering for not only Bill Clinton, but also John Edwards, and even Anthony Weiner (who, by the way, would possibly have gotten away with it if his name had been Anthony Smith).

The most frustrating thing is that the charges so far are without a single detail.  There was an unspecified charge, and a realtively small settlement.  Apparently there may have been "gestures of a not overtly sexual nature that caused discomfort."  I don't have a clue what that means.  I just cannot imagine any legitimate media source giving airtime or column space to a similar story about Barack Obama.  The double-standard never fails to rile me up.

That said, if there really is any fire to go with the smoke, I don't want him, double standard or not.  Yes, I know that Bill Clinton paid $800k to settle with Paula Jones over a genuine sexual harrassment lawsuit that had specific charges of behaviors that could not possibly be any kind of misunderstanding.  And yes, I know that he not only survived his impeachment trial, but left office with a 60% approval rating and now enjoys elder statesman status, even though there were even credible allegations of rape against him.  I also know that JFK and FDR were notoriously unfaithful to their wives, and wound up with their profiles on coins.  But that does not mean that I therefore want that to be the standard.  Even if Cain's problems came out through dirty pool, if he really is a lecherous old man, he won't get my vote.  But I also won't throw him under the bus just yet.  The law of sexual harassment is pretty crazy--as a teacher, I sit through annual updates on exactly where the lines are.  Intent doesn't matter, and the standard of a "reasonable person" doesn't matter.  If a "reasonable woman" can be made uncomfortable, even by an innocent compliment, you can be in trouble.  So I'm withholding judgment on this issue for now.

But this issue is not what bugs me about Cain.  What bugs me is that he's Ross Perot.  He is a good businessman, and folksy, and likeable.  And in a time when the professional politicians have so obviously screwed the pooch, that makes him very attractive.  But he is a rank amateur.  He apparently has not given 5 minutes thought to some of the key issues that would be key components of his job description were he to actually win--things like... all of foreign policy.  I'm sorry, I think the current occupant of the White House should be fair warning to us that the presidency ought not to be an entry-level job.

And if it's not Cain, it's probably Romney.  I really don't care much for Romney.  Maybe it's the perfect hair, or the fact that he comes across as a guy (like George Bush 41) who was born to the job.  Maybe it's the fact that he seems like Bill Clinton--a guy who will do or say anything the focus groups tell him if it will help him become president.  And mostly it's because I feel like he's just another "progressive" with a different ideology--that he'll still be willing to use the heavy hand of government to manage every facet of our lives.  It's still tyranny, but he's just a tyrant from the party I like better.  Bah!  I'd like to quote St. Ron: "In the current crisis, government is not the solution to our problems.  Government IS the problem."

Yet Romney does seem to be squeaky clean.  And perhaps if he is going to govern by opinion poll, maybe the polls of the current population will lead him to do the right things.  Maybe we can get Romney with Cain as Veep (assuming no bombshells).  I could imagine Cain's instincts being a good check on Romney's pragmatism, and Romney's wonkery more than making up for Cain's inexperience.  It's like Rocky and Adrian: "She got gaps, and I got gaps.  But together, we ain't got gaps."  And I feel certain that Cain is not too week for the second spot.  After all.... JOE BIDEN.  Nuff said.