The conspiracy theory about Romney and Cain
A reader sent me a column by Wesley Pruden at the Washington Times which says in part:
[T]he accusations against Herman Cain have smelled from the beginning, The case against Mr. Cain smells like an exercise manipulated by one of his rivals for the Republican nomination. The Cain camp’s blaming Rick Perry, whose campaign then blamed Mitt Romney, was about par for inexperienced newcomers to a presidential campaign.The suspicion that Romney (or, alternatively, Perry) is behind the sexual “harassment” charge against Cain has been all over the conservative Web since this began. There is zero evidence for it and it’s extremely unlikely for all kinds of reasons. Notwithstanding its implausibility, it emerges from the conspiratorial mindset which says, “If Party P. happened to benefit from Event E., then Event E. must have been planned and executed by Party P.” So, for example, since neoconservatives in the Bush administration wanted to finish the unfinished business from the 1991 Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, and since the 9/11 attack made a new war on Hussein possible, therefore the neoconservatives made the 9/11 attack happen. They got together with Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Muhammad Atta and planned the whole thing: the North and South towers of the World Trade Center would not be destroyed by the planes, but by bombs planted in the towers by the neocons and their Mossad agents which were set to go off 30 minutes after the planes hit. The planes striking the buildings were a false front to make the world believe that this was an attack on the United States.
Once people become unhinged from truth, including the truth of the contingent, unplanned, accidental, and sloppy nature of much of human life, once they start to see the world only in reductive terms of power and advantage, then they start to imagine that everything that happens in the world of politics, has happened because some incredibly powerful and efficacious entity wanted it to happen in precisely that way in order to advance its power. They believe, further, that the superhuman power of this entity includes the power to conceal all the evidence of what it has done.
That’s the extreme form of the conspiracy theory syndrome. But it exists in less extreme forms throughout our society today. Wesley Pruden has zero evidence that Perry or Romney manipulated this event. But he says the event “smells” of such manipulation, and his saying it makes other people believe it. In fact, Politico’s Jonathan Martin has from the start cited “multiple sources”— associates and friends of the complainants at the National Restaurant Association—who knew about the complaints. So there is no reason to believe that this story was somehow dug up or generated by Romney. It was not some deeply buried secret. Numerous people knew about it. Common sense tells us that Martin in the ordinary course of his job or in looking into Cain’s background heard about the harassment charges and then investigated them further. But the underlying premise of the conspiracy theory mentality—Party P. (in this case Romney) benefits from Event E. (the sexual “harassment” scandal which would presumably derail Cain’s candidacy), therefore he must have orchestrated it—propels the conspiracy theorists to make such a damaging and overwrought charge against Romney without a scintilla of evidence or reason supporting it.