So, Politico has dug up some dirt on Herman Cain.
And it’s dirt of a sort so common in our modern PC world: allegations of sexual misconduct of an unspecified nature that ended with a payout (from the National Restaurant Association).
Such charges are, quite literally, indefensible—it’s “he said she said” in the modern age, in which the victim is always right. Unfortunately, a payoff means nothing except that the organization has decided it’s cheaper to pay than to fight in a game where the deck is stacked against an alleged perpetrator.
That’s true whether the supposed perpetrator is Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, white or black. What’s more, the system encourages false claims, because the name of the accuser is protected. Even now, in the case of Cain, Politico is not releasing the accusers’ names for “privacy” reasons—although perhaps the names will leak out over time, as these things often do.
Starting way back in the 80s or even earlier, I became skeptical of all such allegations since I saw firsthand (mostly through an incident I witnessed at a university) how unfair they can be and how the deck is stacked against the accused. In the case I knew best, it shocked me to learn that all that was necessary for the charge to stick was nothing more than an assertion by the accuser that the accused had done something that made her uncomfortable. The locus of the offense was in the definition/reaction of the hearer, not any objective standard of right or wrong.
How far we’ve come from the bad old days when sexual harassment in the workplace was winked at (literally). Now the worm has turned so decisively that the accused pretty much calls the shots. This does not mean that sexual harassment doesn’t occur, or that’s it’s okay when it does. But it does mean that we should regard all such allegations with automatic suspicion (as I did with those against President Clinton, until a certain blue dress appeared).
Let’s see what has been alleged about Cain’s behavior [emphasis mine]:
During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.
The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association…
The sources — including the recollections of close associates and other documentation — describe episodes that left the women upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.
Notice that the locus of the offense appears to have been in the perception of the accusers.
It occurs to me that, although the exact date of the Cain allegations and settlement is not specified except that it was “in the 90s,” we know it had to have been after 1996 because that was the year Cain became affiliated with the restaurant organization. So if the charges were trumped up, it would have been possible for the accusers to have gotten the idea from the Anita Hill hearings against Clarence Thomas, which had such high visibility in 1991.
Cain alleges that he didn’t even know about the payments:
“If the restaurant association did a settlement, I wasn’t even aware of it,” [Cain] claimed, “and I hope it wasn’t for much. If there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other officers at the restaurant association.”
That is certainly possible as well.
Which enemies of Cain’s might be responsible for pushing this story? There are a host of possibilities on either side, way too many to choose from. And isn’t it interesting that Politico is refusing to go into more of the details of the allegations?:
Politico’s Jonathan Martin: “And also, what actually happened to these women as well, we want to be sensitive to that, too. It includes both verbal and physical gestures.
“These women felt uncomfortable, and they were unhappy about their treatment, and they complained to both colleagues and senior officials. In one case it involved, I think, inviting a woman up to a hotel room of Cain’s on the road … We’re just not going to get into the details of exactly what happened with these women beside what’s in the story.”
How very “sensitive” of Politico.
I imagine we’ll be hearing more about this story.