I haven’t commented on the GOP field yet as up until recently I found them a dreadful bore. But now we have Herman Cain with four women accusing him of being a harasser. This is interesting.
You can come up with dirt on nearly anyone, especially anyone active socially or professionally. The chances that you did something stupid at one time or another rapidly begin to approach certainty over time. Cain himself uses this as a defense.
Sexual harassment, however, is fundamentally different, and even more different with multiple accusers. Namely, it crosses several lines – personal, professional, societal – simultaniously. It is boorish from all angles, to put it mildly.
Multiple Presidents have been cads, of course, but there’s a difference between being promiscious, cheating on a spouse, and being a harasser. America has repeatedly exhibited some tolerance for the first two behaviors in presidential candidates and sitting executives. They have not expressed tolerance for creepy sexual assault.
John Edwards was the last major political figure to be totally destroyed by sex, or, rather, his inability to not cover up his activities. He was done in not by rumor but by confirmed rumor. Cain prefers the analogy of Clarence Thomas, who made the case that he was being accused for racial as well as ideological reasons; regardless of whether you buy that line of argument, it’s difficult to prove, which Cain is finding out.
I would like to have Cain proceed and muddle the GOP ranks further for as long as possible, but his campaign is exhibiting the signs of cognitive dissonance – denying all accusations loudly, criticizing the accusers personally, and hatching wild conspiracy theories – that point to inevitable collapse. He has not issued the simplest of alibis for the incidents and dates in question. The ax waits to fall.