By Allison Schoenauer
Elm Staff Writer
Remember, dear reader, a few issues ago when there was an article about Herman Cain? Remember what was written about him? That he had an overly simplified view of the world, and used that view to attract followers and create unrealistic financial plans for the country.
Well, he, or rather a string of women he used to work with, has now ticked a box in the qualified category.
Recently, four women have come out of the woodwork claiming that Cain had, in the past, sexually harassed them in the workplace or during the interviewing process. This is a painful hit to his campaign since Cain, like most other Republicans, ran a “friend of the family” kind of campaign, one that emphasized family values and a conservative approach to family structure and support. Pushing this message and having one woman say you slept with her or sexually harassed her is enough to kill a political career (look at former Democratic Sen. John Edwards of South Carolina). If you have four women all claiming the same thing and you can’t get them to keep quiet, then the only thing that Cain can do right now is chug along the campaign trail and hope no one slips on the blood dripping from the stump where his arm used to be.
Stepping away from the brutal imagery, sexual misconduct is truly a horrifying thing to have to address while campaigning. It’s the worst kind of catch-22 a politician can face, because he has to address the public about the women—sitting idle will seem like an admission of guilt. If he does release a statement about these allegations, however, he will look like he is a liar, since the statement will have to be planned out in advance. The voters don’t like liars.
Just like women don’t like men accused of sexual misconduct. So he’s lost about half of the voting population right there. Unless a woman is a very loyal Cain follower, there is no reason why she would want to vote for him after these allegations have been released. The Republican candidates are varied enough that she can get her conservative values in another person.
So far, the only thing Cain has done to address the accusers is deny that anything has ever happened. Which is just about all he can do right now, since he and his campaign can’t properly control the amount of information the accusing women are putting out. That power, once so firmly in the hands of politicians in the long-ago magical time that historians call the 90’s has been placed in the lap of news media sites—the 24-hour channels like CNN and Fox News—and the Internet divisions of your favorite well-known and well-trusted news organizations.
If you can, think back to the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas sexual harassment trial. Justice Clarence Thomas and his handlers (and even the Senate) had enough power to stifle the accusations that other women were making. Women called on for their testimonies waited to be asked to come into court and were left stranded. Even an elderly, hospital-ridden woman offered to come and testify that Thomas had made inappropriate comments to female workers. Since the power balance was different back then, they were kept silent as the media were blinded by the spectacle of the trial itself.
So what can Herman Cain do to recover? Well…nothing. Admitting the women are right, he was inappropriate to them, would be political suicide; even with the appropriate visits with the appropriate feminist leaders and appropriate apologies, he can kiss the presidency goodbye. Carpet denial makes him look like a liar (and carpet denials tend to backfire when information that negates the information presented in the statement is released), but since doing nothing is the worst thing anyone can do, blank denial is the lesser evil.