Monday, October 31, 2011

The Herman Cain Mutiny

In my comfortable world of warm cynicism, I knew this would happen eventually.  The only question was who would be the perp and who would be the victim.  We have a political battle for the 2012 GOP nomination pitting 8 major candidates in a steel cage match against reason and accountability (reason and accountability are bleeding profusely and are not expected to survive the bout, by the way).  The only thing missing from this high stakes drama was an allegation of sexual impropriety, and thanks to Politico’s “reporting”, now we have something tawdry to spice interest in the campaign.  Clearly, demagoging on electrified fences and forced vaccinations could not hold the public’s attention.  Advertisers demanded more.

If you haven’t heard, Herman Cain, surging candidate for the GOP nomination, has been accused of having been accused of sexual harassment some 20 years ago.  The story surfaced in Politico, and has metastasized overnight into the blockbuster ratings bonanza every media outlet was hoping for, serious journalistic integrity be damned. 
So what if Cain was accused of sexual harassment?  Accusations are free, but defending against them costs money.  Evidence of an employment settlement to those who may have accused Mr. Cain does not represent proof of anything.  It could be proof of extortion, in which case Cain is the victim.  It could be proof of a reasoned business decision.  Sadly, business decisions are made all the time to settle certain claims before determining if there is any basis in truth.  The decision to settle could have been made to avoid unwanted publicity for his association that had issues before Congress.  The decision to settle could have been more cost effective than fighting.  Guilt and innocence are not proven by the existence of a settlement agreement.

Of course, it could be true that he is a serial harasser and unfit for office, but if you voted for Clinton and would again if he were running, take a breath before you pile on and disqualify Cain.  Love him or hate him, Clinton appears to have enjoyed his share of harassments while handling affairs of the state (pun intended).

The story represents the worst of political hackery and soulless journalism.  “Unnamed sources” and “someone with knowledge of the situation” have been trusted enough to approve the printing a story that will upend someone's career and reputation, all in the name of…what?  It’s shameless, and the implication of the story is clear – Cain is a pervert that must be stopped.  Really?  Based on the rumor of an event?  Based on a misunderstanding of what a settlement agreement represents in a matter like this?  I disagree with him politically, but he should not have to spend a minute on this silliness.  He already has plenty of silliness to impart on an adoring vocal minority of a sliver of the electorate.

Be careful, my dear right wing friends.  It is fun to blame your second favorite punching bag, the liberal media, for this imbroglio.  In the end, my cynicism tells me that the source of the story, such as it is, may end up being one of the other campaigns and not the disorganized left wing propaganda machine.  If that liberal machine were organized in any sense, I think the Occupy protesters message wouldn’t be quite so ‘muddled’.  The liberal machine is defined by its messaging incompetence.

The fact is that the rationale to disqualify Herman Cain from holding the Office of the Presidency is so extensive, so well documented, that basing your decision on his fitness for office on this poorly vetted report from Politico would be akin to deciding you disapproved of Charlie Sheen for President because of his role in Hot Shots!  There are so many other reasons Sheen should not be President, and many of them are a mere click away on YouTube.

This alleged settlement is a non-story.  The story is that is a story at all, and until we learn otherwise, this alleged sexual harassment settlement should not be in the public discourse.

Stop the Cain Mutiny!  Don’t abandon the Cain! (At least not because of this story)

In the classic Humphrey Bogart movie, The Caine Mutiny, much effort was spent building a case against Captain Queeg for his alleged incompetence.  We knew from watching the on screen action that he was a flip-flopper at best, a liar at worst.  In the dramatic final courtroom scene, Queeg was ultimately found incapable of command, but not because others testified against him.  The cross examiner just let Queeg talk, and his insanity became apparent. 
Better to let Captain Cain just keeping talking.  That should be enough to derail his ambitions.

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