Thursday, December 1, 2011

Razing Cain

I could also subtitle this brief post as, "Is Ginger White Herman Cain's Gennifer Flowers?" You may remember her: She was the one who'd claimed to have had an affair with then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, for a dozen years, and this was threatening to torpedo his candidacy right before the New Hampshire primary in 1992. Only after going on 60 Minutes with his wife Hillary was he able to put this issue behind himself. Sort of. At least for the time being. Enough to get him through to the nomination and the election.

And see, with the revelations by one Ginger White, from GOP nomination frontrunner and still strong contender Herman Cain is facing a nearly identical issue, and for a while there, it appeared he was going to drop out of the race when Ms White came forward with allegations that they'd had a thirteen-year-long affair. I was happy to read today that Herman Cain has decided to go forth with his now hobbled campaign. Yes, happy.

I've already discussed my reasons why I want Herman Cain to rise (or fall) on the strength (or weakness) of his ideas and his suitability (or unsuitability) for the highest office in the land. While allegations of sexual harassment are serious, it appeared they had been settled long ago or were never deemed serious enough by the alleged victim to go anywhere with them.

If all of them were true, I'm not sure they painted a picture of Mr Cain as being much more than an inappropriate horndog. Yes, that would mean he lied about them, but that's what people — especially men — do when they are confronted with a public wanting a daylight airing of what happens in the dark.

That last sentence is more directed at accusations of the affair. You see, I'm being terribly consistent here. We as a society — and more specifically, we as Democrats — gave Bill Clinton a mulligan on Gennifer Flowers. Then on Monica Lewinsky. The whole country gave him a pass on that one, with his approval rating rising into the stratosphere while he was being impeached. Impeached by the likes of Newt Gingrich, a serial adulterer, and Henry Hyde, an adulterer and a home wrecker (though that was all a secret).

So if we gave Bill Clinton a pass and decided that he should be judged based on his policies and positions, not what he did (or was accused of doing) in the bedroom (or hallway recess), Herman Cain deserves the same.

The avoidance of hypocrisy is not the only reason. We also have a democracy to protect, and with selective airing of opponents' baggage (e.g., in 1998 why Clinton and not Newt Gingrich , or in 2011 why Cain and not... Newt Gingrich?), we run the risk of allowing partisans on the margin to slay otherwise worthy candidates using irrelevant but embarrassing information or even mere accusations and innuendo.

So good on you, Mr Cain, for staying in the race. (And you, too, Mr Gingrich.)

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