What to do about Herman? I have written of my support for Herman Cain for the Republican nomination and my belief that he is a strong conservative and Christian. From what I have read and know of Mr. Cain since he came on the political scene in the 80’s, the current allegations of sexual harassment are completely antithetical to the person that these years of public and business life have portrayed but I also know that sometimes people can hide things in amazing ways, especially politicians who expect a large degree of public scrutiny.
Look how long Anthony Wiener held on after the tweeting pics of his “package” to a young girl. He was about 2 tweets away from staying in Congress.
Do I still support Cain? The answer is a qualified “yes”.
The qualification has nothing to do with any change in my belief that Cain’s qualifications as a conservative and a successful businessman make him the right person for the job, rather it is a “support pending” position depending on how he and his campaign handle these recent accusations.
I’m not comfortable with the position that Cain is in. It is as difficult a condition to be in as a black conservative could ever be for three major reasons:
The burden of proof in a political contest is different. More harshly employed when the candidate is a conservative, this rule is nevertheless true for all. Candidates are not afforded the same level of proof in the court of public opinion as they are in a court of law and the Totenberg Rule applies.
The Totenberg Rule was asserted by the NPR All Things Considered anchor, Nina Totenberg, during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Of the charges leveled by Anita Hill, Totenberg infamously stated that it wasn’t the truth that mattered:
“It’s the seriousness of the charge.”
This was in the context of formal hearings with sworn testimony and open, direct questioning by both sides of the issue, not in a political contest where only the candidate is expected to meet the burden of proof.
What makes the Totenberg Rule dangerous is this – in the political arena there are four truisms, 1) things said cannot be unsaid, 2) things heard cannot be unheard, 3) things seen cannot be unseen but in spite of the truth of 1, 2, and 3, 4) they all can be ignored if the candidate holds the “correct” (most often “progressive”) positions.
The standard of conduct is different for sexual matters. There is a significantly lower standard of sexual conduct for a Democrat than there is a Republican – and the standard is even higher for a conservative Republican. Cal Thomas sums it up in his column from last week:
Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton allegedly trolled for women, using state troopers as his procurers. As president, Clinton engaged in oral sex with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. He lied about it under oath and was impeached, though he was later acquitted by the U.S. Senate. Other sexual accusations tainted Clinton, including one that he raped one Juanita Broaddrick. That “everybody lies about sex” and “it was just sex” and didn’t affect his public responsibilities were just two of the exculpatory statements from Clinton’s Democratic defenders. James Carville slimed Paula Jones, one of Clinton’s accusers, by saying you never know what you’ll find “when you drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park.”
Many other Democrats in modern times have been caught with their pants down — JFK, John Edwards. Some paid a political price. Most did not because their policies were favored by the liberal media, which gave them cover.
There is no doubt that the greatest slide in the level of acceptable behavior by elected officials was generated by the defense of Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Clinton’s “inappropriate” behavior was dismissed with denial – “I never had sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”, definitional gymnastics – “oral sex isn’t really sex”, minimization – “it was only sex”, the sexual conduct of the chief executive was none of our business – it was a “private matter between Bill and Hillary” and finally equivocation – “all powerful men have mistresses – just look at the French!”
And Bill held on to become a Democrat icon and standard bearer.
I’m always reminded of this editorial cartoon by Mike Shelton from 2007.
The vague stench of racism is in the air. Racism has become a charge that has been so misapplied as to have little meaning – but at the same time still carries a negative connotation when used by a conservative – it looks desperate after the Left using it to defame every conservative position from the Tea Party movement to simple opposition to Obama’s policies. I dislike that Cain played the race card but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that racism isn’t being deployed as a strategy by the media and the Democrats.
There is an insidious subtext to these “harassment” accusations. Having used faux racism charges as a club for the 2008 elections and the entire term of Obama administration, the Democrats believe that there is still one variant that has currency, even if it exists only in their biased minds. It actually says more about how they see Americans, particularity Americans from the South, than what America is really like.
For lack of a better term, we will call this the “Mandingo” strategy.
More than 40 years on, the Democrats still are hurting from what was called Reagan’s Southern Strategy where he was able to gain support from conservative Democrats to achieve election. The standard “progressive” canard is that Reagan was cloaking racism and bigotry in the mantle of “states’ rights” and federalism to capture the KKK and “cracker” vote. This opposition to an overweening federal government is that same root theology that the Democrats have used to tar the Tea Party as racist.
The Mandingo strategy is the act of a black candidate being accused of sexual misbehavior by a white woman. Since the Democrats still see the people of the South and the Tea Party as racists, they believe that the image of a black stud having his way with the white plantation owner’s wife is the ultimate fear of a conservative.
There seems to be a taboo that these types of interracial sexual congresses are somehow forbidden, but that taboo seems to be propagated by those on the left of the political scene, even as they ignore the facts about it. Black athletes and rappers delight in their conquest of white women as if it is a badge of success that they have achieved the final victory over slavery – they have conquered the white slave owner’s wife or daughter.
The fact is that conservatives don’t care – there are many black conservatives who are married to white women – Justice Clarence Thomas being one of them – it is instructive how little this factors into the conservative mind as opposed to the “progressive” one.
This scene from Mel Brook’s movie, Blazing Saddles, sums up the Democrat view of white southern conservatives:
What does Cain do?
In order to maintain broad support, he has to recognize these three aspects and come out with the most effective defense known to man – the truth, the whole unvarnished version. He can’t just refuse to talk about it to the media; he has to be as aggressive and assertive in his own defense as they are in their attacks.
His current level of support is generated by the belief of conservative Republicans that the media is biased and is out to end his candidacy, just as they have been every Republican – so far they have eliminated, tried to knock off or simply enabled them to hang themselves: Perry (racist and possibly gay), Bachmann (a crazy right wing Nazi), Ron Paul (crazy and CRANKY), Gingrich (hypocrite and serial jeweler purchaser), Romney (MassCare was Obamacare’s daddy)and now the guns are turned on Cain.
This support can evaporate as quickly as it is generated, just ask Rick Perry.
The attacks were lightest on Romney because the media loves them some RINO and Jon Huntsman has actually garnered media support, largely because he answered to call to serve the ManGod, Obama as his emissary to the savages in foreign lands – that makes him a solid RINO to them. It didn’t help his case with conservatives that he seemed to seek the position. In his defense, I have to say that I lived in Utah under Huntsman’s governorship and that isn’t the Huntsman that I know, but he has been branded by the establishment now – remember – it is the seriousness of the charge that matters.
Cain has to come clean. It is the only way. Silence and deflection in hopes that this will just go away is not acceptable.
We as conservatives cannot be intellectually or philosophically consistent if we demand less of Cain than we did of Clinton.
Cross posted at PoliPundit.