November 29th, 2011

Cain and the women: what constitutes enough proof?

Herman Cain continues to strongly deny Ginger White’s allegations that they had a 13-year-long consensual affair, but he’s thinking of dropping out of the race because, as he puts it:

It’s also taken a toll on my wife and family, as you would imagine. Any time you put another cloud of doubt, unfortunately, in the court of public opinion, for some people, you’re guilty until proven innocent. And so, the public will have to decide whether they believe her or whether they believe me. That’s why we’re going to give it time, to see what type of response we get from our supporters.

Whether or not you believe in his innocence depends on whether you believe that where there’s smoke there’s fire, and whether you think Cain’s accusers have generated enough smoke. As for me, I don’t know whether any of the accusations are true or not, because so far (and this includes Ms. White) we’ve not seen any evidence that I would consider powerful.

To be blunt, though, I don’t care if Cain had a sexual affair with this woman. I don’t care partly because I’ve never thought Cain’s candidacy was going to go anywhere anyway (except go away, which it might soon do). I do care that he doesn’t seem to know how to run a well-organized campaign and to effectively counter attacks, and that’s a pattern too, and perhaps a clue to what the flaws of a Cain presidency would be. I also care if he’s a serial liar, and if he went into this campaign with a history like this he’s a fool as well.

You may be as tired of all of this as I am, but I still think it’s instructive to look at the patterns here. Until now the accusations have been of harassment, but the current one by Ginger White is not of harassment but of a long-term consensual affair. But other similarities in the accusers (including White) are too strong to ignore: they tend to have made previous and/or subsequent accusations of sexual harassment about alleged perpetrators other than Cain, and usually have been awarded settlements.

And then there are the financial troubles. The accusers we’ve seen named have a history of frequent unemployment and multiple financial difficulties, sometimes even bankruptcy. White is no different:

Before [Fox in Atlanta's] interview, we checked into Ginger White’s background. We found she filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer in 2001. That case was settled.

We also found a bankruptcy filing nearly 23 years ago in Kentucky, and a number of eviction notices here in DeKalb County over the past six years. The most recent happened this month.

Ms. White says she has been unemployed, and she is a single mom with two kids struggling to make ends meet.

But White goes the other accusers one better in the suspicious background arena—she’s been sued for libel by an ex-business partner and lost. Here’s more:

A former business partner, Kimberly Vay, sued White this year after a dispute that began when White wrote disparaging comments about Vay in a mass e-mail — comments that White recanted four months later as part of a legal settlement.

“She came back and stated that everything she stated in the e-mail was completely false,” Vay said in an interview. “She admitted to making it all up out of anger and frustration.”

None of that means White is lying about Cain and the affair, just as Sharon Bialek might have been telling the truth about Cain assaulting her, despite her financially troubled past. Recall that Bialek alleged, in her press conference with Gloria Allred at her side, that Cain had not only groped her (unprovable) but been responsible for upgrading her hotel suite (potentially provable). Likewise, Ginger White has alleged that Cain paid for multiple trips and hotel rooms for her, which would also appear to be potentially documentable for some enterprising reporter—or even by White herself, who could name dates and times that could be checked out against Cain’s whereabouts. But neither woman has not offered such proof, at least so far.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that Cain and White knew each other, at least in the non-Biblical sense. His number is on her cellphone, and she’s got the cellphone records to prove that they have exchanged calls and text messages. Cain says that’s because he had been trying to help her financially. That could most definitely be a lie, although if true it could explain some of the communication (and White certainly did have serious financial problems and could probably use some help; she received an eviction notice this month).

Is this enough? Shouldn’t we (or reporters) demand something else—besides a couple of friendly but non-intimate inscriptions in a book, which she alleges Cain made? A compromising note would do; it’s not necessary to have a semen-stained blue dress. Did White not save an especially tender text message or voicemail recording, as lovers often do? Were there no sweet-nothing emails?

And who was sending most of those 61 calls or text messages that Smith’s records provided: Smith herself, or Cain? Fox in Atlanta, which broke the story, writes:

She showed us some of her cell phone bills that included 61 phone calls or text messages to or from a number starting with 678. She says it is Herman Cain’s private cell phone. The calls were made during four different months– calls or texts made as early as 4:26 in the early morning, and as late as 7:52 at night. The latest were in September of this year.

If I were a reporter writing this story, I think I’d have taken a moment to count how many were calls and how many text messages, and how many were to Cain and how many from him. It would seem to matter: the more calls vs. texts, and the more messages originated with Cain, the higher the likelihood that there was indeed a sexual relationship going on here. The absence of such information leads me to suspect that either (a) the reporter is incompetent, or (b) the bulk of the communication may have been texting rather than calls, and/or much more of it may have been from White to Cain than vice versa.

But the following can be no surprise to anyone who follows the press and its antics: the WaPo blog gets this part wrong [emphasis mine]:

To substantiate her claims, White showed the Atlanta reporter phone records documenting 61 calls from a number that the reporter later traced to Cain. The calls were being made as late as September 2011…

And here we have examples of the lie getting halfway round the world pretty quickly: USA Today writes [emphasis mine]:

White also supplied WAGA with phone records that showed 61 calls or text messages from one number that she said was Cain’s private cellphone.

At least the paper gets the fact that they were calls or text messages correct. Too bad it alleges they were all from Cain, although there’s no evidence of that.

Then there’s good old Politico [emphasis mine]:

White provided the station with bills that include 61 phone calls or text messages from a number that she says is Cain’s private cell phone number.

According to the report, Cain called White as recently as September 2011.

So, are these pros incapable of even minimal reading comprehension (after all, this is not such a complex set of sentences and concepts, mostly centering on the meaning of the word “or”), or is this purposeful twisting? You be the judge.

As I’ve stated before, the larger questions here have nothing to do with Cain and his possibly complex sex life. They involve the standard of proof required when accusing public figures of wrongdoing or scandal. The idea now seems to be that, if enough people come forward, the quantity of their accusations can make up for their undocumented quality. But if proof could be obtained, why not demand that some be provided? Otherwise an accuser can essentially say anything she wants, as long as she’s had some sort of contact with the public figure.

35 Responses to “Cain and the women: what constitutes enough proof?”

  1. Promethea Says:

    I agree with you that Cain has run a poor campaign. If all the charges are true, then I don’t want him as President. However, I believe that most if not all have been set-ups.

    Cain fails in the comeback department. I thought he would be a reasonable candidate because he has extensive experience outside government. He’s also a personable speaker who appeared able to handle things. He doesn’t seem able to work around his lack of experience, however, including mud-slinging.

    When people say Cain doesn’t have foreign policy experience, I have to ask: who actually *does* have foreign policy experience? Bush used his previous executive experience to learn on the job, the only way it can be done.

    Cain is just appearing weak in the face of the (probably untrue) accusations. It will be interesting to see how long Dems like Axelrod keep using the alleged adultery trick to take down Republican opponents.

    When Dems open their mouths, I assume that they’re lying. Ditto the MSM, including Fox. None of the MSM have any crediblity for me on any subject.

    I get my news from bloggers and commenters on sites like neo-neocon, Ace of Spades, etc. Instapundit is my go-to site for the latest news links.

  2. Curtis Says:

    Common sense is the burden of proof where the judge is the public. Facts, motives, credibility of testimony:Take these three and apply them. Then, if you are a conservative, and the result is less than certain, disregard the accusations if they are against a conservative, but still consider them if they are against a liberal. It’s called tribe, loyalty, and family. In other words, it takes a higher level of proof to convict your tribe than someone of another tribe. You may, at first blush, consider such a system a double standard. It is not.

    What I care about is that a good man’s reputation was ruined. Before the smears, no one would write “his possibly complex sex life.” It’s like a broken window that can’t be put back together again. Can you imagine the trauma and the frustration Cain must be experiencing? He was leading the polls and now he must face his wife, his family, his organization as a tainted man.

  3. Promethea Says:

    I didn’t write the above in direct answer to your topic: how much proof is needed.

    The Dems fling a lot of muck and hope something will stick. The public depends on soundbites. It has no real interest in the “truth.” A candidate has to be able to handle the mudslinging, because that’s the political game.

  4. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Any candidate for President has to know that opposition research is going to be done against him and that, if that fails to provide some sort of useful dirt, that something suitable will be fabricated. That’s just part of the game, as are people coming– seemingly out of the woodwork– to accuse a candidate of this or that, people that likely have some sort of axe to grind or something to gain from such accusations.

    I will admit, though, that the number of accusations that are starting to pile up against Cain–and particularly the lawyer-like statement from his spokesman that-said that, since–if the accusations were true–this was a private affair between two consenting adults, and no sexual harassment was alleged –it was not something that was anyone’s business, and that people should not, therefor, be concerned about it, make me think that there is something there.

    As it is, Cain’s performance in the several forums and debates I have seen him speak in had already convinced me that he was just a smooth talker and a one 9-9-9 trick pony, who just didn’t have the necessary background, knowledge, and experience to become an effective President, ready to hit the ground running on day and minute one

    The Presidency is a killer job, as the transformation from darker color hair to grey on the heads of our presidents attests to.

    The Presidency is not an affirmative action or a mostly OJT job, and should not be one in which the new President has an alarmingly steep learning curve, or needs to bring in experts to identify the issues for him and tell him what to do about them; because in that process of learning and making mistakes, a lot of Americans could die.

    To be sure, the President needs expert advice, but he needs to posses–on day one–enough knowledge, background, and experience to be able to weight and to successfully sort through that advice, and which will enable him to determine truth from falsehood, and things that will work from things that won’t.

    As demonstrated by his performance, Cain just did not have those qualifications.

  5. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Promethea–Business experience won’t help you and can’ t be translated into successful policy and action–if, to begin with, you don’t even know where Lebanon is, or what the main issues concerning that country and region are.

  6. JuliB Says:

    Wolla Dalbo –

    Who has those qualifications? Governors, to a degree, certainly not Sens or Reps. I’d rather have someone with wisdom and character who had accomplishment in other areas than another career politician.

    This character assassination just breaks my heart. I’ve donated to both Palin and Cain, to no avail. I’d vote for either in a heartbeat.

    (Disclosure – I will vote for the R candidate in the general even if it ends up being Caligula’s horse.)

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    JuliB: Caligula’s horse.

  8. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Of the candidates, the only one who has a real depth and breadth of foreign policy knowledge and experience is Gingrich. For instance, if you looked at some of the information on Gingrich I provided links to here this past week you would note that–among his many other qualifications–for many years Gingrich has been lecturing on foreign affairs at the War College course for our highest ranking generals.

  9. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    I love the women’s statements “I really didn’t want to bring this up…” but of course they did.

    Either Cain’s a real horndog or just a very likable guy who befriends hard luck cases.

    I just watched Kelsey Grammer’s new show “Boss” where he’s the mayor of Chicago. Not bad, but every character is flawed and punching below the belt to win.

    Maybe that’s why a Gingrich can succeed because he knows enough to torpedo some important people if the attacks on him get too bad.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    Another point I forgot to make is that the Atlanta article does not state the exact time frame of the cellphone records White provided. Why not? It could (and should) certainly have been provided. A statement by White in the article indicates she and Cain had been communicating for 2 and a half years; why not 13 years, if that’s how long the affair lasted? And did the cellphone records the Atlanta reporter was shown actually cover 2 1/2 years, or some other length of time? Inquiring minds want to know, but a lot of reporters don’t seem to have inquiring minds.

  11. gcotharn Says:

    @neo,
    well researched. I agree with your take in all areas.

    I am far less concerned with whether Cain is guilty or innocent … than with whether American voters are willing to allow candidates to be illegitimized via evidence-free accusation. If voters allow that, then: anarchy.

    For instance, strategies such as “The Ackerman Gambit” will decide the course of American history. The gambit was advocated by Spencer Ackerman on Journolist during the 2008 election cycle:

    “It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.
    [...]
    Instead, take one of them –Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares–and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.”

  12. expat Says:

    Re. foreign policy experience: It is not Cain’s lack of hands on experience that is the problem; it is his seeming lack of interest in the topic before he announced his candidacy. I just cannot see how one can have experienced 9/11 without being able to make a single statement that indicated he was following events. All we got was that he would consult with his advisors. On what basis did or will he choose them? He had a meeting with Henry Kissinger. Is he the only foreign policy person Cain could think of?

    He hasn’t handled the harassment charges well. How would he deal with the stuff a Putin could throw at him? How would he deal with European leaders in a one-to-one setting when talking about the finance crisis? All we know about him is 999.

  13. gcotharn Says:

    I remember “The Candidate”, w/ President Jeff Bridges and VP Nominee Joan Allen. The movie was a leftist fantasy, complete with stirring musical accompaniment, of a virtuous political left and an evil political right. Joan Allen, wrongfully accused of sexual indiscretion, refuses to either confirm or deny her innocence or guilt. Her speech about principles begins at 4:25 mark of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cs3s2rR5pFo&feature=relmfu

    “Principles only mean something if you stick by them when they are inconvenient.

    If I ever did answer the questions – even to exonerate myself – that would mean that it was okay for them to have been asked in the first place. It isn’t.”

  14. kaba Says:

    It was the lack of a coherent and coordinated response from Cain or his campaign to these accusations that I find troubling. Cain was obviously aware of the settlements that had happened earlier and Politico apparently solicited a response from his campaign before breaking the original story. And yet for the first twenty-four hours about the only response we received was, “Nope, Not me, I didn’t do it.”
    I like Cain. but I’m far from convinced that he is ready to play in the big leagues against the likes of Putin, the Iranians, or the NORKs.

  15. » Post hoc justification, Cain edition - Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion Says:

    [...] good post at Neo-Neocon, Cain and the women: what constitutes enough proof? Shouldn’t we (or reporters) demand somethingelse—besides a couple of friendly but non-intimate [...]

  16. Trimegistus Says:

    The Democrats and their tame media have made it clear: if you run as a Republican for national office, they’re going to destroy your personal life and your family. No lies are too blatant, no accusations too bizarre, no insinuations are too obscene for them to toss out.

    It gets especially vicious when someone strays off the plantation: black Republicans, women Republicans, Latinos. Anyone who threatens the Democrats’ monopoly on certain groups can’t just be defeated, they must be demolished.

    And if that doesn’t work, there’s always physical threats.

  17. Parker Says:

    As I have stated before, I like Cain. His lack of expertise in foreign affairs does not trouble me. Most presidential candidates who are good administrators and who have extensive experience with what makes Main Street thrive are usually not well versed with the nuances of foreign policy. They tend to be former governors, not DC insiders whose only claim to expertise is sitting on some committee in congress and junkets to Europe and Asia.

    What does trouble me about Cain is the way he has mishandled this smear campaign. Whoever ends up as the candidate will be up against the most thuggish and duplicitous political machine in modern politics. Namely, the boys from Chicago. The only way to deal with them is to bring a gun to the knife fight.

    IMO Cain should have gone on the offensive after the very first accusation. He should have unleashed a pack of lawyers directly suing each accuser of defamation of character. That he has not done makes the idea that where there is smoke there is fire more credible. Too bad, for a while there I thought we had the equivalent of Palin surging to the top of the pack.

  18. blert Says:

    Gingrich has so much political baggage he’s finished in the General Campaign.

    Hence the delight in the MSM/Democrat HQ that he’s on a roll.

    The ONLY candidate that freaks Obama out is CAIN.

    Hence the smears.

    Cain is acting in the classic, honest man manner: stunned.

    Cads like Gingrich, Clinton et. al. are PREPARED for sex scandals to come forth.

    For an honest man such smears are a bolt from the blue.

    He has to lawyer up and go after these gold diggers — something that goes entirely against his instincts.

    To compare Cain to DSK and the rest is absurd — so the MSM is all over it.

    And we are now learning that the DSK affair was a political frame job — apparently orchestrated by that ultra-cad Sarkozy.

    He makes Clinton look like an altar boy.

  19. Don Carlos Says:

    Cain’s guilt or innocence, and his handling or non-handling of the various sex-related charges, are all quite beside the point.
    What matters is there is a tidal-wave onslaught of essentially unsubstantiated and/or private consensual matters which wash a man overboard.

    We actually have many, many more important matters on our plate. This sex stuff is like the tabloids for the dumbed-down, akin to inciting a mob of stupids to charge.

    See Mr. Fine of Syracuse University. An allegation of ‘pedophilic’ misconduct 15yrs ago is all it takes. Not a trial, just an allegation- ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’, and a man is flushed.
    I don’t like it at all.

  20. uncleFred Says:

    Based on every thing that I have read Cain has been the target of a series of smears. The press does no due diligence when the target is a Republican and Cain has no effective recourse.

    The public allows this to happen without consideration of the eventual consequences. My expectation is that Cain will quit because, when nothing need be proved before the attack is launched, the attacks will be unending.

    Terribly sad. While Cain had some gaps in his current understanding of foreign policy, he was certainly the kind of man who had a solid shot at fixing what is wrong with our economy.

    Still a while back I said that if Cain did not have the ability to push through these assaults, he did not have the toughness needed to be POTUS. I am afraid that I must stand by that. Life is not fair and a president must deal with pressures like nothing the rest of us can imagine.

  21. Occam's Beard Says:

    Cain and the women: what constitutes enough proof?

    First, I don’t care about the “issue.” It’s irrelevant. Beside, even if every allegation were true, Cain has barely generated more than a few milliEdwards (i.e., not even a deciKennedy) of sleaziness. (I omit judging him in Franks, because that, like the farad, is too large a unit for practical purposes.)

    Second, to the query above, I apply the Clinton Criterion: show me a dress with his pollywogs on it, or it didn’t happen. How’s that for a standard of proof? MSM: Move on. (Where’ve I heard that before?)

  22. Mrg Says:

    turns hair grey

    For sure.

    A President has to deal with enemies foreign and [i]domestic[/i]

    I think in cases like this, the old timers like Gingrich have an advantage. The stuff rolled out is likely going to be a rehash of what is already out there, and it’s more unlikely anything new will be added.

  23. blert Says:

    Now that I’ve seen pictures of the ‘lady’ — no man born would chase her skirt.

    Too old, too ugly, too ruined between the ears…

    Good grief.

  24. Don Carlos Says:

    The old lawyer rule applies: If you can’t attack the evidence, attack the witness.

  25. Curtis Says:

    I make my vote based on the overall capacity and meaning of the candidate and Cain would have shown his lack of foreign policy chops without the smearing and slandering.

    But on the other issues, Cain was strong: Cain would have been the first conservative black President. (In fact, the first black President.) He despises the welfare state. He was the nearest thing to an anti-elite candidate with a shot to win. He is what Obama only appears to be: a decent man. And he was defeated by what should have defeated Obama: ignominy.

    He shot to the top based upon tea party aspirations, and the fact that he still maintains considerable support shows the tea party people are loathe to reject him. His losses in the polls I believe are more due to his fumbles in other areas.

    Now we’re left with the mongrel, the mutt, the street hound: Gingrich. Okay. The guy who you can’t trust becomes the guy we have to trust. Hey, that’s compromise.

  26. foxmarks Says:

    It would have been nice to see Cain’s strengths and weaknesses more thoroughly evaluated. Just as Neo points out the lousy, non-inquisitive reporting on these character attacks, there was lousy non-inquisitive reporting on the bulk of what Cain offered the country.

    It is a meme now that he was not prepared for the sex allegations. How can one prepare for stories that somebody made up? He could study foreign policy, but how can he study for the imaginations of broke and desperate women?

    And on his foreign policy, clearly his weak point, it is silly to hold that he wasn’t interested in it before he decided to run. Defense and counterattack against Islamofascists has been part of his shtick for years. That’s implicitly a foreign policy concern.

    Another meme, that his campaign is bumbling and fumbling, was an opinion in search of facts. He got to the top of the heap, and a lot of people have heard of 9-9-9 (even if they haven’t bothered to learn much about it). The sex stuff provided facts to support the meme. But the logic there has to depend on the allegations being significantly true. If he had skeletons and thought they would stay hid, he made a grave error. If the claims are baseless, then I don’t see how the campaign has mishandled the situation in any catastrophic way. Sure, hindsight and having the conventional politician’s toolkit ready would have made the responses smoother. But reacting in a slick manner would have compromised what I think was the essence of his strength: authenticity.

    If anyone can actually come up with real evidence that Cain was a man ruled by his own testicles, all my words are void. Since I am projecting a collapse no matter who wins the Presidency, a strong and steady character is essential. Too bad all the rest of the good people in the race (Santorum, Bachmann, Paul) have already been dismissed.

  27. Curtis Says:

    Good point on Cain’s steadfast and stalwart opposition to Islam.

    The collapse may not wait until the election.

  28. gcotharn Says:

    “milli Edwards … deci Kennedys … and Franks”. LOL

    Thank goodness that Weiner Units are also inapplicable.

  29. Curtis Says:

    http://www.teapartyexpress.org/

    Cain may be retired. Don’t think it’s the end of the biggest bloc of voters in America. We will win and we will preserve the West. Why? What is it the East wants but the freedom and prosperity of the West. Ultimately, the East are just people who will reject the same ideas and forms which have kept them down. It is already happening and cannot be prevented. The EU is failing and its failure, like Islam’s, will, like a window opened upon a smoke filled room, clear the air. The future is not, and never can be, the domain of evil.

  30. Beverly Says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Politics of Personal Destruction gang weren’t running an extended version of the old “badger game.”

    From Wickedpedia: “The badger game is an extortion scheme, often perpetrated on married men, in which the victim or “mark” is tricked into a compromising position to make him vulnerable to blackmail.”

    All famous and wealthy men are prospective targets. Buster Keaton was in his dressing room one day when a young woman burst in (her mother lurked just outside). She threw her arms around him and kissed him, and he, smelling a rat, said, “You’d better flag your ass out of here right quick.” But she started yelling “Rape!” and clawing him and herself, tearing her clothing to make it look like he’d assaulted her. Luckily for Buster, stagehands were around to see the attempted con and break it up, tossing the two out on their ears.

  31. Don Janousek Says:

    Incitatus 2012! And he would be running against his own rear end. (NoBama).

  32. nolanimrod Says:

    John McCain, the darling maverick, independent, and bipartisan hero of the New York Times, when he looked to be

    the Republican nominee,

    was accused on the Times’ front page of a long time affair with a lobbyist based upon things a guy thought he heard a staffer say a few years ago.

    These days, were Calvin Coolidge running as a Republican, he’d be known as a wild and crazy guy.

    Heck – he might even have been accused of running his cigars up his interns’ vaginas just to get them to the right level of moist.

  33. br549 Says:

    Ah, yes. The journolist members. They’re an institution.

    And to this day, the only place I have really ever heard anything about it has been on blogs.

    This stuff with Cain has never had to have a particle of truth in it. Whether it does or not, it has worked. Even here.

    The left is miraculously behaving well toward Mitt. They loved McCain too, until he become the choice and started campaigning. The attack dogs will go after Mitt as soon as he becomes the candidate, not really before.

    Newt should be the one we choose. We can’t all move to New Zealand.

  34. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    I love this new campaign ad from the NRCC, which has pointed out the similarities of the excuses for our economic problems–that blame our people and not Presidential policies– that were offered by Carter and now by Obama, and coins the new term for our problems, Carter’s diagnosis of malaise + Obama’s diagnosis of our laziness=were just “malazy” (http://www.nrsc.org/campaigns/malazy-no-more-bailouts/)

  35. Richard Aubrey Says:

    If Cain drops out, or if nominated, loses, then that will among other things validate the smear tactic. Even if he loses for some other reason or combination of reasons.
    So we’ll see more of it.
    But not applied to dems unless the reps learn from the masters.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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