When it comes to sex scandals, the accused have not faired well; the names Tiger Woods, Anthony Weiner and, most recently, Jerry Sandusky, come to mind. Nevertheless, when I first learned of the allegations made against Herman Cain, I, almost naively, dismissed them as one of the typical political red herrings used to derail front-runners.
Make no mistake, I find Cain to be creepy: his suspect 9-9-9 plan that possibly originated from a Sims video game, his grin at the end of his infamous campaign commercial, his declaration of Jesus being the perfect conservative, his numerous attempts at singing. But being creepy doesn’t make him a sexual predator.
Allegations of sexual harassment cannot be taken lightly; they scar the families of both victims and the accused. Those that file such allegations with false pretenses set back all people that are sexually harassed.
But as the days passed, and more women stepped forward to fuel the allegations, it became apparent that the dismissal was premature, and the Cain campaign’s responses to the allegations spoke volumes about both his and his campaign’s character.
Despite what the polls may have said, prior to this incident, Cain was a hardly viable candidate. These allegations are now the pitfall of Cain’s candidacy, but it didn’t have to be this way. When Cain accuses the “Democrat machine” (as if Democrats are organized enough to make a concrete effort to discredit anyone) of bringing forth a “troubled woman,” he unnecessarily makes this issue even more of a political one. The best course of action would have been to preempt possible political chicanery and affirm the belief that politics did not play a role in these allegations. Cain looks more like a villain when he defensively accuses multiple groups to be operating against him.
Additionally, attacking women as greedy and destructive doesn’t bode well for Cain. Thousands of women are sexually harassed at work every year, and Cain’s cavalier attitude and response concerning these accusations exemplifies the typical American attitude of blaming the victim when it comes to sexual assault. We saw this back during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court hearing and again when conservatives like Jim Hoft belittled reporter Lara Logan after she was sexually assaulted amid the Egyptian celebrations after Mubarak was unseated.
If Herman Cain was as smart, savvy and skilled a business man as he claims to be, he would have never been put into a position where four former employees could level substantial claims of sexual harassment against him. By not settling these matters years ago and disclosing them as soon as he began his candidacy, he did a severe disservice to himself and to the American people. If he’d begun his campaign by addressing potential distraction issues, we would not now by smothered with news about accusations of sexual misconduct and drawn away from the important issues that require our national attention.
The fact that Cain uses his character, current stature and his poor memory as his primary defense against these allegations underlines the weakness of his defense. I’m not entirely convinced that Cain is guilty of the allegations, but the less forthcoming with relevant information Cain is, and the more he misremembers events, the less confident in him I become.