When I poked fun at the whole scandal last week with a terribly tasteful rendition of “I like big butts“, I thought that the Herman Cain sexual harassment scandal was going to peter out on its own. It hasn’t. Today, one of the accusers stepped out from the veil of anonymity, albeit with help from Gloria Allred freshly scraped from the bottom of someone’s shoe. Those who have most vigorously come to Cain’s defense have dismissed any wrongdoing outright, largely because the accusers haven’t been publicly outed. We’re told that we need to know who they are so we can judge their credibility.
Well, now we’re going to see how open those defenders are to a fair look at someone accusing their candidate of choice. I’m not really sure how someone can discern whether a sexual harassment, or in this case more toward attempted sexual assault, claim is valid or not based on what a public record search of the accuser finds but we’re going to see. I’m not optimistic that there are going to be any Cain supporters swayed against him by a public examination of the supposed victims. As Jonah Goldberg stated on Special Report, if we do see those jump ship from Cain, it likely won’t come until this scandal is in the past, assuming that it has one and Cain is still a candidate afterwards.
As you may have gathered from the above, where I disagree with the panel is whether Mr. Cain is going to continue having a campaign at all with these allegations surviving. That these women, who were initially part of a sealed settlement deal that forbid them from speaking, don’t want to open themselves up to discussing being harassed doesn’t strike me as malicious or all that mysterious. If they had wanted to attack Cain for some personal gain, they could have come forward and anyone could have told you that it would have been a disaster for the National Restaurant Association to attempt to enforce or penalize them for violating the settlements. Again, even assuming they were viewed as nuisance settlements by the NRA, the fact that there were two separate incidents that received money and now multiple subsequent parties coming forward doesn’t bode well for Cain. It doesn’t sit well with me either.
I don’t have a more concretely based explanation for my feeling that there is something more to these allegations than opposition research being dumped into a smear job than those staunch defenders of Mr. Cain have to prove his innocence. What I do know though is that the pressure should be ratcheted up on Cain to fully explain what occurred on his meeting with Sharon Bialek, if he even had one. I won’t pretend that he is my favorite candidate but it is for his own good.
Cain’s strength has been a more intellectually honest version of what Donald Trump was peddling before — a brutal and refreshing honesty in policy. He is able to distill folksy policy answers, with admittedly troubling missteps, that still make his lack of polish a plus for many primary voters. However, his unwillingness to apply this unflinching candor to his own troubles, not even getting into the contradictory statements or nonsensical unnecessary denials of details that had to be eventually corrected, may be at the root of my growing mistrust of Cain. That and charging full bore with cries that Perry was behind this and then tapdancing back and forward with the allegation — again, with no evidence whatsoever.
I feel that one of two things will happen. Either Cain will have to admit to some level of genuine sexual advance toward some of these women, which will instantly destroy his campaign or the wind will finally stop blowing on the sails of the S.S. Scandal, leaving Cain to lose to Romney in the remainder of the primary. What is left to see is whether enough quasi-genuine conservative candidates remain in the race to the finish to allow Romney to sweep up the nomination with a plurality or whether the new class of Huntsmans with no ground game (Cain still doesn’t have the infrastructure to actually contend with Romney in the primaries, see Charles Krauthammer’s point about Romney still focusing on Perry in his ads) will be shown the exit to actually allow Perry, or to a lesser extent Gingrich at least some small chance of stopping Mittens.
Please, avoid utterly burning me to the ground for not defending Herman Cain. I’m trying to be completely open by wearing that I never really supported or liked his candidacy to begin with to make sure its clear I’m not trying to paint myself as the disillusioned supporter. Cain just hasn’t handled this well, hasn’t been open about what has happened, and has too many coming out of the woodwork to tell the same tale about tail.
Exit question: Stolen from Allahpundit at Hot Air… what would it take for you to seriously entertain the stories of those who have grievances with Cain, if you are one of those who have consistently dismissed them? (You can also see at the link another example of Cain mishandling this by pumping a vigorous denial that doesn’t actually apply to the new allegations.)
Red State calls it a rollercoaster going down for Cain.
Ace of Spades believes Cain has a legitimate strategy here.
Hogewash acknowledges that the claims aren’t anonymous anymore.
More good analysis at the Conservatory.
Michelle Malkin offers coverage with a focus on the Allred sleeze factor.