What is the significance of Cain’s alleged behavior? On what basis do we find his alleged behavior disqualifying?
You have no opinions on the news conference?
I had an early afternoon Irish breakfast with a friend at Kinsale’s Tavern at 94th and Third Avenue and walked all the way home through Central Park to the West Side. Not only was it the first time I’ve walked across Central Park in a year and half—it’s the first time I’ve been in Central Park (other than taking a bus or cab across it) in a year and a half. A very beautiful day, with astonishing colors.
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I’ve read the Times story about the news conference. What its significance? What I mean by that is: if we didn’t have feminism, if we didn’t have “sexual harassment” as a federally actionable tort, what would be the meaning of Cain’s reported behavior?
Let’s say it was 1950 and we learned that a man running for president had engaged in such an act 15 years earlier—suddenly putting his hand up the skirt of a woman not his wife and pulling her head toward his lap, and then stopping when she told him to stop. That’s certainly crude and objectionable behavior for a 50 year old man in a leading position in society, a corporate CEO and all that. She came to him asking his help in finding a job, and he used the situation to cop a feel and try to start something with her. If it were 1950 and this came out it would be seen as disqualifying. He was also seeking an adulterous relationship, which would certainly have been disqualifying by the standards at that time.
But in post-Sexual Revolution America, in which the whole country is bathed in invitations to every kind of sexual experience, on what basis do we object to such behavior (apart from the adulterous aspect of it)?
So what we have here is yet another instance of anarcho-tyranny. On one hand, our society surrounds us in erotic imagery, it liberates and encourages every kind of sexual indulgence, it says that all behavior between consenting adults is not only permitted but is a fundamental liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. That’s the anarchy part. On the other hand, in certain selected circumstances (selected by liberals and feminists when it suits their political purposes), we claim that if a man makes a single crude come-on to a woman, it is a horrible act that disqualifies his character and disqualifies him for political office. That’s the tyranny part. Tyrannical liberals play this double game, and naïve conservatives are only too eager to oblige.
Furthermore, even the adulterous side of the condemnation of Cain is questionable, because we’re not just in post-Sexual Revolution America. We’re in post-Bill Clinton America. How can Cain’s alleged crude gesture and attempt to start an adulterous affair back in 1996 be an objection to his presidential candidacy, given that we elected, in 1992, a man who was known to have been involved in non-stop adulterous activity through his entire marriage, including lots of activity of the woman’s-head-in-man’s-lap variety, who, moreover, continued to commit adulterous behavior in the White House, yet he is now honored as an elder stateman? Such contradictions cannot be allowed to stand. Conservatives and traditionalists may have a principled basis to object to Cain’s alleged behavior and even find it disqualifying, but liberals do not.
On another point, neither Cain nor the woman was still at the National Restaurant Association at the time of the incident. So there is not even a color of sexual “harassment” here. Yet, once again, Clinton, who used his political power, including the intimidating presence of state troopers, to try to extract sexual favors from women, including state employee Paula Jones, is honored and adored by the Democratic Party and the entire left half of the country. Liberals have ZERO basis on which to object to Cain’s alleged behavior, and conservatives should blast that message into their ears. But they won’t. They’ll go on allowing the liberals to license anarchy when it suits themselves, and to impose tyranny when it suits themselves.
Jim C. writes:
Let’s tell the truth: It’s looking like Herman Cain is a sleazeball, which makes him unelectable, even among an increasingly stupid electorate.
Its significance? Cain is no longer the likable mediocrity; now he’s a sleazy mediocrity. That’s what the insiders will be thinking about Cain.
I also suspect the other accusers will be coming forward as another woman has a similar tale to tell about Cain.
JC from Houston writes:
One unfortunate side effect, judging from the comment threads on these stories, has been to make Cain’s fans dig in their heels even more. This will only distract from the task of convincing them that, totally aside from any of these sexual harassment claims, he is objectively unqualified for the position of POTUS.
Patrick H. writes:
I think Cain’s behavior was more than crude and objectionable behavior. If true, it was an assault, and an attempted sexual assault. At a minimum, he should have received a beating for such behavior. If anyone did that to my wife I would beat that person senseless. Which I guess would make me a criminal, but I don’t think I would run for the Office of President. If true, he cannot be a candidate because he is a criminal. I don’t care how much anarcho-tyranny there is, right is still right and wrong is wrong.
But the woman, Sharon Bialek, wasn’t married. At the time of the incident, she was “dating” a man whom she shortly thereafter stopped “dating.” However, I agree with you that the alleged behavior was assaultive, though probably not in a legal sense. The maddening problem, again, is that we live in a society where everything is allowed and there are no standards and no grounds for judging anyone, and then we’re suddenly supposed to have very strict standards and judge people according to them. Given the approval that the American public and American institutions gave Clinton before, during, and after his presidency notwithstanding Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinsky, and Juanita Broaddrick, I don’t see how American society can consider Herman Cain’s 15 year old alleged crude and semi-assaultive act—which according to Sharon Bialek he stopped as she as she told him to stop—can be considered disqualifying.
LA writes:Also, let us not forget Gloria Steinem’s “one-grope” rule. A blogger writes:
Gloria Steinem sets the precedence. Case closed.
Gloria Steinem said this, of Bill Clinton’s alleged groping of Kathleen Willey (March 22, 1998):
“The truth is that even if the allegations are true, the President is not guilty of sexual harassment. He is accused of having made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at [Kathleen Willey] during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took “no” for an answer…”
Steinem goes on to say more about this one free grope:
“In her original story, Paula Jones…claims [after she refused his offer of oral sex] that he said something like, ‘Well, I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to do’…As with the allegations in Ms. Willey’s case, Mr. Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection…”
So apparently.. it was okay for Clinton to give ‘er a try … and if she said “no” and he backed off and said “okay then”, it was all okey dokey.
I’m not thinking that this thing with Cain rises to even the “one free grope” status, but don’t you libs think that since your Grand Dame Gloria Steinem said a man gets one, Cain should get a pass on whatever lesser thing he did? Unless Cain’s being black takes the freebee away.
And let’s also please remember that we don’t know that any of this is true.
When I described to a friend Cain’s alleged behavior, she wondered how Cain could both reach up Bialek’s dress and pull her head down. A commenter at YouTube makes the same point:
“Herman Cain parked the car, grabbed her genitals, and then grabbed her head?? What does he have — three hands?? Was he giving her a foot massage with his left foot? also? Did he grab her a** with his earlobes??”
Leonard D. writes:
I am disappointed to see you engaging in tu quoque in this thread. [“Tu Quoque is a very common fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself or another from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser.”] You are correct that the left has no consistent stance to criticize Cain on. But this does not mean the right shares the left’s rejection of sexual morality. The man seems to have attempted to violate his marriage vows. This shouldn’t be illegal; nor should most sexual “harassment”. But it ought to be something that conservatives care about. That the attackers are unprincipled is not at issue.
These accusations are also a great practical problem with Cain as a candidate. No matter what the truth is about them, it doesn’t take much blood in the water for the liberal press to converge and attack anyone on the right. And once they’ve entered the frenzy, as they have, they are unstoppable. Cain will now never be free of this attack until he drops out. Even if you disbelieve all of it, he’s damaged beyond electability. This is another way in which left and right are unequal.
It’s a very complicated situation to figure out, and I’ve been trying to bring some clarity to it. Either my explanation of my position has not been adequate or there’s something wrong with my position.
Laura Wood (to whom I forwarded Leonard’s comment) writes:
I have pointed out over and over that I am not joining the left in rejecting sexual morality. I’ve said that if there is worse behavior that comes up, that would be disqualifying. But the accusations made so far do not add up to anything disqualifying. That is a separate question from the wrongness of Cain’s attempted adultery.
Yes, I think you are engaging in uncharacteristic sophistry on this issue.
Regardless of how permissive modern liberalism is, the issue is whether, provided the accusations are true, conservatives consider Cain’s actions improper. And they should consider them improper. He is not a suitable candidate if he is guilty of such reckless, illicit behavior.
Let’s say for the sake of discussion that it was true. Fifteen years ago as a private individual he got excited by a woman and crudely groped her, including making a gesture pushing her toward oral sex. That offends me. The obsession with oral sex is a mark of the debasement of our culture. But I don’t see how that one incident by itself 15 years ago would disqualify a man for the presidency.
Leonard D. writes:
You say that the wrongness of the left is not the issue here, but only what we think is right. But as I’ve said here, this issue is mainly not about our views of private morality but about what standards control our public life. Your position and Leonard’s adds up to allowing the left to give a pass to outrageous sexual behavior by Democratic politicians, while we are ready to destroy a Republican candidate for one attempted and not-completed adultery in the distant past.
It’s an impossibly complicated issue because of the way the left keeps jerking us around. I am aware that my position is not perfect and can be criticized. But it seems to me that the alternatives are worse.
I don’t think that Cain should be unelectable based on a 15-year-old adulterous pass (and also I would guess some other fire within the smoke we now see; more will appear). That is a distinct negative but it must be weighed against his positives; and also then compared to the other candidates on offer. The choices are very finite, so we cannot demand too much.
That stated, I do believe that Cain is now unelectable—and electability remains the biggest positive in democratic politics. As you say, this is quite unfair; but this is the reality of politics in America today. When the left controls the press, Republicans must be above reproach to get elected. It is worth pointing out that even the left gets blown up by sexual impropriety if it cannot be hushed up. Most recently, Anthony Weiner.
The Weiner case proves nothing of a general nature because his behavior was so gross, perverted, and embarrassing that they just had to get rid of him. I called it the “Yecch” factor.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 07, 2011 04:16 PM | Send