Politics

The Cain Mutiny

Herman Cain is weathering sexual harassment charges as though his name were Ted Kennedy. This isn’t sitting well with Democrats, whose indignation over sexual harassment knows no bounds—when the accused is a Republican.

Dahlia Lithwick writes at Slate that “the very same people who insist that we don’t know what actually happened all those years ago seem to know exactly what happened: nothing. Sexual harassment is now nothing. Welcome to the era of gender harassment denialism.”

Bill Clinton can have that effect on an issue. The people who pretended that Paula Jones didn’t exist now wish to resurrect her cause. Should we all indulge their collective delusion that they didn’t spend the latter part of the ’90s sermonizing us to keep sex out of politics? 

Herman Cain this week endured saturation coverage of vague charges of sexual harassment. He didn’t handle it particularly well. But he is now more popular than ever.

Don’t call him the Teflon don. Call him the Teflon godfather.

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO has reaped a $2 million windfall in contributions since Politico dropped the bombshell story on his campaign last Monday. He tops the Republican presidential field in the latest Rasmussen poll and runs within two points of Mitt Romney in the ABC News/Washington Post survey. Ostensibly gauging Cain’s support, the polls really serve as a barometer of sexual harassment claims. They’re about as popular as Jon Huntsman.

If there is anyone more despised than a cad, it’s a gold digger. Since voters know neither the specific allegations against Cain nor who specifically accuses him, the media asking them to judge the merits of the amorphous accusations against him is asking for a judgment against the media.

People will take the accused boor they know over the get-rich-quick accuser they don’t know. A woman who wants her name on a check but not on a charge simply has no credit. This is how Herman Cain turned Politico’s Halloween trick into a treat.

Could the pizza boss have abused his position of power to pester women?

It’s unproven but possible. Conservatives risk falling for the same identity politics that the any-accusation-equals-guilt gynocracy embraces. Because people share our politics doesn’t mean they share our ethics. Doubters, see Randy “Duke” Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Larry Craig, Armstrong Williams, etc.

Ballot-box solidarity in legal cases makes as much sense as genital solidarity. If you think being a conservative makes you innocent, like some of Cain’s detractors think being a man makes you guilty, then the facts are meaningless. The decision is made before the case is.

For most people, litigation, not someone giving you gifts or compliments, is harassment. Skeevy bosses exist. The solution isn’t suing them. It’s firing them. The job market is a free one for employees as it is for employers. 

People respect rules that are promulgated and defined. Because sexual harassment law is more shades-of-gray than black-and-white, its courthouse crusaders rank somewhere between personal-injury attorneys and medical-malpractice lawyers in public esteem.

It’s not just the law that isn’t clear cut. The behavior, as is often the intent of flirtation, is prone to multiple interpretations. Even the worst of the workforce brutes isn’t likely to say, “Get on my desk or you’re fired.” The ambiguity, in conduct and in law, fosters litigiousness, which reached witch-hunt proportions during the time that corresponded with Cain’s late-’90s tenure with the National Restaurant Association.

Herman Cain may be November’s Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann—the Anybody But Mitt flavor-of-the-month. But the Cain mutiny isn’t just a rebellion against the establishment Republican candidate. It’s a rebellion against the establishment media. As the candidate told a cheering audience in Texas this weekend, “There are too many people in the media who are downright dishonest.”

Cain may not have the right experience to win the Republican presidential nomination. He certainly has the right enemies.

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