The news broke on Sunday when the website Politico reported that Herman Cain settled 2 sexual harassment suits in the 90’s while he was head of National Restaurants Association. Mr. Cain has followed the standard for all political figures caught with their pants down (pun intended) – deny, deny, deny, then admit. At this point, it seems that these allegations are completely true, though the circumstances behind the actual accusations remain unknown. One thing is for sure, while the reporting of the lawsuits may be politically motivated, the original accusations certainly weren’t, as they happened well before Mr. Cain had any political ambitions.
What this says about Mr. Cain’s character is in the eye of the beholder. His supporters will certainly insist that the original accusations were baseless attacks motivated solely by money. His detractors (myself included) don’t really need any other evidence that he’s a ridiculous excuse for a presidential candidate – the hopper is already pretty full on that count.
But what’s truly fascinating is the way the Right Wing Sock Puppet Gallery shifted into overdrive. Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, and Sean Hannity quickly went on air to decry the “liberal media” for the attacks. The extent these people will twist reality is quite stunning – that he was “set up” by the liberal media and that liberals are threatened by a black conservative.
The language these people use is pretty over-the-top: Coulter said, “Our blacks are so much better than their blacks.” Classy, no? Hannity insists that this is another “high tech lynching” that liberals are apparently so famous for. Limbaugh shrieked that “‘mainstream media’ goes for the ugliest racial stereotypes they can to attack a black conservative.”
This is absurd on so many levels and speaks more to the paranoid delusion of the right than anything else.
Politico is hardly an arm of the ‘liberal media’ (whatever that is). Their CEO (Frederick Ryan) serves as chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation’s board (damn commie!). When the right screams about the ‘liberal media’ or the ‘mainstream media” what they mean is anyone who writes anything they don’t like.
The argument that liberals are afraid of Herman Cain is quite a stretch. Ask any Obama supporter which candidate they would prefer face Obama in the general election and Cain will undoubtedly be at the top of the list. It would be like a liberal dream come true to have someone so eminently unqualified, so obviously unserious, running for president in 2012. Really, we are drooling at the prospect.
And the obvious inference to Clarence Thomas is equally suspicious. This story is not like Clarence Thomas’s. In that instance, a woman came forward at a seemingly opportunistic moment to make a charge that she had never made before. In this instance we are talking about a matter of record – Herman Cain was sued for sexual harassment and paid at least 1 and maybe 2 women to settle, which he now admits. These are facts. It is certainly well within bounds for a front-runner in a presidential campaign to have his or her background scoured. Who leaked what to who and why doesn’t really matter when the story is true.
The reality of this is that there can be almost no doubt that it is the republicans who are threatened by Cain’s candidacy. Given that Cain has received zero support from any major political figures in the Republican Party (contrast this with the legions that have lined up to endorse Perry or Romney), there can be no doubt that Republican leaders don’t want Cain running against Obama. Luckily for the nation, there are still some conservatives who are not enamored with the anti-intellectual radicalism of the Tea Party. But they are getting increasingly frightened and desperate at the prospect of a Cain candidacy. The ‘establishment’ conservatives have been on a full anti-Cain press for a couple of weeks now, yet Cain remains the front runner. And he’s doing it without really campaigning in the early states, which makes the Republican Party in Iowa and New Hampshire nervous that they are becoming irrelevant.
Liberal media hit-job? Not quite.