A few weeks ago, I posted a little rant about Herman Cain and why I didn't like the guy. Here it is for reference. In that post, I described one of my main issues with Cain by saying that he reminds me of the kind of guy who pretends to be your friend but is always trying to screw your wife behind your back and every time you confront him about it, he plays it off like "What? I was only kidding! Sorry if you were offended, it was just a joke!" and the minute you leave the room, he's right back to trying to nail your wife. It turns out, perhaps my analogy hit a little closer to home than I realized.
So this last week it became a big news story that Herman Cain had been accused of sexual harassment by at least 2 former employees when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in 1996. The National Restaurant Association subsequently settled those complaints with the two women in question and the matter was closed. Well... it was closed until Cain became a front-runner for the GOP nomination. Like all skeletons in the closets of would-be national politicians - especially those running for the highest office in the land - Cain's past caught up with him last Sunday when Politico.com released the story about the harassment complaints and the ensuing settlement. Now, under most circumstances, when a politician is confronted with some past improprieties, the best and most effective way to deal with it is to come out with a solid, defensible statement, stick to it and weather the temporary media storm that will gust and blow for a couple weeks until everyone gets tired of hearing the same old stories and the same old explanations and moves on to something more interesting. However, when a candidate is inconsistent from the start, when they change their story and add more and more information the more they get asked about it, when they contradict statements in the evening that they made in the afternoon... people tend to keep paying attention. The storm winds tend to blow harder. The circus tends to add more rings.
As Cain has continued to contradict himself and plead ignorance, only to have "miraculous" moments of clarity in the very next interview, the scrutiny over this whole issue has snowballed. This is being viewed as much as a failure in Cain's ability to deal with stress and pressure as it is any referendum on his morality. The big question being, is Cain showing his true colors here? Is he, at heart, a dishonest and sleazy dude who is finally being exposed as someone who only entered this race to sell books and get higher speaking fees, never expected or prepared to be a legitimate front-runner and is now collapsing under the weight of public scrutiny over his troubling past behavior - not to mention the multitude of gaffs and public statements he's made recently that have bridged the span from outrageous and ridiculous to troubling and offensive.
I think these are fair questions to ask. I think that it's always going to be an important part of the presidential election process to vet the candidates, not just in terms of their policy ideals but where their moral compass points and their personal ethics as well. I don't want to confuse this with talk about faith or religious affiliation, because I think there is a marked distinction between a person's faith and their capacity to be good, honest human beings. I'm not a very religious person, but I put a considerable value on the morality of someone who's campaigning to be the leader of my country. That's not to say that I hold politicians to an unfairly high standard that I don't apply to anyone else, but I do hold them to a reasonable standard in terms of their honesty and integrity and I think that's absolutely appropriate considering the power and control over our daily lives that we entrust to them with the offices they are elected to. Simply put, I want to know that the guy or girl who can send us to war, make sweeping executive decisions that drastically affect national policy and, basically, has their "finger on the button" is, at heart, an honest person.
This is why I care about the sexual harassment story. Not because I give a shit if Herman Cain is the kind of guy who hits on co-workers and invites them to his corporate apartment for sex while being married - although that does show a glaring lack of a strong moral compass and personal ethics that should bother anyone who cares about having a moral and ethical leader - but that's not nearly as bothersome to me as the fact that he can't just be honest about it.
Every time he changes his story, "remembers" something he had conveniently forgot until he was called on it and meanders his way around the truth at every opportunity, he bugs me even more. Every time I see him act like he's so annoyed that reporters keep asking him the same questions, even though he gives different answers each time, it drives me nuts. I've never seen a guy so bothered by being asked to just tell the truth for 5 damn minutes.
However, the worst and most disgusting thing about this whole sexual harassment debacle is the way the Republicans and the right-wing talking heads are trying to play this as a witch hunt and a character assassination motivated by race. Hearing Herman Cain play the race card like it's a lighting round game of slap-jack turns my stomach. Why? Because Cain was all too proud to declare at the start of his presidential bid that he "Has never and will never play the race card."
This video clip is so ironic and would be hilarious if it wasn't so pathetic. Cain bashes Obama by predicting he will play the race card whenever possible to dismiss his critics, then goes on further to say that "You have to separate the policies from the person", in other words, judge someone based on what they do, not what color they are. Never mind the fact that Cain has been more than happy to play his race in the discussion when it makes him look better and more accomplished, this whole attitude is just amazing considering the complete 180 that the GOP and Cain's camp has pulled since the sexual harassment issue came to light...
Oh, sorry, that was a clip of Cain playing the race card against Obama before he became the GOP primary front-runner. It's so hard to find the right clip of Cain playing the race card, there are so many out there...
There's a clip that's representative of what I'm hearing all over the conservative spin-o-sphere. Cain is being subjected to the same discriminatory "lynching" of his character in the media that Chief Justice Clarence Thomas was! Apparently, according to conservatives, this kind of treatment is only reserved for blacks who dare seek a public office and it just proves how racist those liberals are! Really? REALLY???
The name Bill Clinton mean anything to you?
Yeah, nobody ever went after him for his sexual transgressions, right? There wasn't a massive government investigation into his alleged sexual dalliances that cost the tax payers tens of millions of dollars and resulted in him being censured by a throng of self-righteous Republican hypocrites - some of whom were immediately outed by publisher Larry Flynt for carrying on their own extramarital affairs while they sat casting judgment on President Clinton.
What about Anthony Weiner?
He didn't even do anything illegal! He sent pictures of himself to a consenting adult who wasn't an employee of his and it cost him his congressional seat.
What about John Edwards?
Well... fuck John Edwards. That guy is a huge douchebag and deserves every bad thing that happens to him in life.
But still, my point remains. There is a big scandal whenever a political candidate is involved in sexual impropriety... well, unless you're David Vitter, John Ensign or Mark Sanford... then you just get to either keep your job or move into a nice, cushy job working for another politician or as a fund-raiser. Apparently, the GOP likes adulterers and sexual scumbags, must be part of that whole "family values" thing. Be that as it may, though, the issue with Cain being raked over the coals for his past harassment settlement and continued dishonesty on the subject isn't a product of his race, it's part of the job of running for president! But hey, don't take my word for it...
"He [Herman Cain] should be prepared for things like this because he’s a serious presidential candidate, we want our presidents to be as far above reproach as possible." - Karl Rove
According to "The Architect", what's happening to Cain isn't a race-driven media "lynch mob", it's part of the game of high-stakes political campaigning. The same way Obama was judged for his associations, the same way Clinton was judged for his discretions, the same way John Edwards was humiliated and ruined for his despicable actions, the same way Newt Gingrich has received absolutely no criticism from his party at all for divorcing his ex-wife while she was in the hospital with cancer... wait, sorry, that's another bad example... At any rate, politics is a tough game and if you're really in it to win - not just sell more books and get paid more to give your motivational lectures to rooms full of businessmen - then you have to be prepared for anything.
But, of course, playing the race card is an easy out for conservatives. They have been dodging the slings and arrows of racism for the last 4 years, thanks to the racially-charged rhetoric coming from the Tea Party base and they want nothing more than to be able to flip the script and turn the tables on the lefties. They had their first taste of sweet payback when the Occupy movement started making the news. Oh, how Fox News and other conservative media outlets loved wading through the OWS protesters, finding the most ridiculous clowns and interviewing them as if they represented the majority opinion - just like the liberals did to the Tea Party protesters at places like Glenn Beck's Freedom Rally and basically every town hall or gathering that took place over the last 3 years. Now, with Cain actually being scrutinized for bad behavior, this is a perfect opportunity for the conservatives to try and flip it up on the race issue as well.
Unfortunately, there are some pesky facts that get in the way of the fantasy "witch hunt lynching" that the conservatives want to convince the rest of the country is happening to Cain...
First, Cain isn't being accused of anything. This information about these sexual harassment allegations are old news. They happened in 1996 and have long since been settled. The cases are closed. There's no "accusation" of anything, except the fact that Cain can't be honest about a single detail concerning the matter.
Second, conservatives don't get to pretend that they suddenly are the party of true equality and it's the liberals, in fact, who are the real racists. Not when they say shit like this...
Yeah, sorry, you don't get to pretend you're not a racist when you say flat out racist bullshit like this, no matter how intentionally outrageous just to get attention you're trying to be.
The truly ironic thing about all of this is that past sexual harassment settlements between Cain, the association he headed and his 3 as of the latest report female accusers isn't even the biggest problem about Cain that should be making headlines. We should be talking about the massive campaign fraud involving his chief of staff and the funneling of massive amounts of cash directly into his campaign by non-profit organizations, a direct and highly illegal violation of campaign finance laws. That is the kind of thing that could get him kicked out of the race just on the face of the severity of the crimes and yet here we are talking about girls he tried to fuck 15 years ago. Of course, like I said, it just shows the kind of guy Herman Cain really is, as if we didn't already know. I mean, of course a guy who tells a country with 10% unemployment to "blame themselves" if they don't have a job is selfish and out of touch. Of course a guy who makes statements about building a double-walled fence with electrified razor wire on the border to kill Mexicans and then pretends it's a joke, but doesn't apologize for saying those things is a guy who thinks harassing women is ok, because he was only kidding, right?
Herman Cain is the epitome of neo-conservative selfishness, which is hilariously ironic considering he claimed he had no idea what a "neo-con" was. All he cares about is himself and his rich buddies, he has no compassion for the rest of the country - including the middle-class - nor does he have a sense of moral and ethical responsibility to help better society as a whole. Everything he does, he does to make money and advance his own personal career and that's it. And hey, if you want to be a motivational speaker, book writer or even take over another pizza chain, that's all good. I don't care if you're Ebenezer fucking Scrooge (I know that's not his middle name) if you want to go work in the private sector or some other capacity where you don't get to write policy that affects me. However, you don't get to be a selfish, out of touch, dishonest, unethical, immoral scumbag of a human being and lead my country.
Also, if you don't know who the president of "Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan" is, or that China has had nuclear weapons since 1964, then you really need to go have a seat with Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and the rest of the opportunistic, self-promoting shit bags who have been muddying up our political process with their high-grade horse shit for the last 4 years. Sorry, Herman, no matter how much people dislike Mitt Romney, at least they know he's full of shit to begin with.