From the moment Politico broke the story of alleged naughty behavior on the part of then-National Restaurant Association CEO Herman Cain back in the late 1990s that was quietly relegated to the “eyes only” filing cabinet in the wake of a settlement with the as-yet unnamed complainants, I’ve been watching, listening and thinking. (Frankly, I’ve had no choice, given the ravages of the flu and the absence of both electricity and a cable signal.)
After close to a week of frenzied – and very sloppy – news coverage, the observer is left with no more substantive information now than existed in the Politico story on Sunday. This much is known for certain: sometime before the year 2000, Cain was accused by two female NRA staffers of making unspecified “inappropriate” remarks and one “inappropriate” gesture in the workplace. (Other information has since surfaced, such as the age of one of the accusers, the capacity in which she worked for the NRA, the amount of the settlement, etc.) There have been reports of a third accuser and Politico is claiming that additional – and as yet anonymous – sources verify the claims made by the two female staffers.
Plenty of keystrokes and considerable bandwidth have been expended in the conservative blogosphere parsing all of the statements made and all of the evidence gathered in an effort to make a determination of fact that can only be borne out by, well, the facts. Unfortunately, there are simply too few of them to connect any series of dots in a manner suggestive of a meaningful conclusion.
In the humble opinion of this writer, any analysis of the matter as it currently stands ought to be governed by logic, the preponderance of evidence and the so-called “reasonable person” standard.
Here’s how I see it: Herman Cain is (a) telling the truth when he denies that he ever acted or spoke in a manner that a reasonable person would consider inappropriate for the circumstances; or (b) not telling the entire truth or lying outright when he denies the allegations.
If it is true that a tree falls in the direction it is leaning, it follows that any assessment of Cain’s words or deeds at any point in his life must necessarily be made in a much larger and expansive context that includes his social and professional interactions over the course of time.
Consider the example of former President Bill Clinton. Long before he ever became the nation’s chief executive, Mr. Clinton was known in his home state of Arkansas as “Slick Willy” and long before he ever set foot in the Oval Office, he already had a reputation as a lecher. It only got worse with time: from Gennifer Flowers going forward int time to Monica Lewinsky, Der Schlickmeister established a legacy of lechery not seen in the career path of a U.S. president since Warren Harding.
It is reasonable to assume that if the accusations made against Mr. Cain are accurate, they are not isolated: experience has shown over and over that a man willing to cross the proverbial line at one point in time has done so before and would therefore already have a reputation to that effect, raising a problem for the “Cain is a lecher and a liar” theory: outside of these two instances of alleged improprieties, no other reports of naughty words or actions on the part of Mr. Cain have surfaced. None. Zilch. Zero. Zip. Nada.
As a matter of fact, just the opposite emerges: for every anonymous source that appears to implicate Herman Cain in no other instance but this one, several named sources vindicate his good name. Among these is none other than former National Restaurant Association board chairman Joseph Fassler, who had this to say:
“The accusations? It’s a hatchet job, in my opinion,” Fassler told TheDC from his Phoenix, Ariz. office. “My gut tells me it’s a hatchet job. He gets a lead, he gets some traction, and the next thing you know, here come these allegations. It’s sad.”
I agree. In my opinion, the preponderance of evidence mitigates in favor of Mr. Cain, who appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show yesterday to answer any and all questions about this issue. (I listened to the entire interview and would love to link you to it, but I can’t: you have to become a paying member of the Dimwit’s website to access the interview).
I’m standing with and by Herman Cain for President of the United States.