Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Cain identity

Yesterday's decision by Herman Cain to drop out of the GOP Presidential stakes (technically, suspending, a legal loophole that allows him to reallocate donations made to him to another candidate or a PAC) really wasn't surprising nor was the timing.    But it was inevitable.    If it was just one woman making sexual harassment complaints it may have raised some eyebrows.   Two, three, four ... there was a problem.   Then a fifth claiming to have had a consentual affair with Cain, game over.    Pretty sad for a man who built an entire pizza chain (Godfather's ™) from the ground up, then was elected by his peers to run the restaurant lobby in DC.

Sexual harassment is, perhaps needless to say, a serious charge.   If made falsely, the women should be charged with perjury.   If true, Cain is lucky just to been able to write a cheque and make it "go away."

The comparisons to Clarence Thomas, however, are perplexing.   That was about a man accused of harassing one woman, Anita Hill, while he was chair of -- of all things -- the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and right at the time when it was arguing in the courts that such harassment amounted to discrimination (which it was eventually successful at so persuading).   Such bad talk at a government agency should have been flagged before Thomas was allowed to sit on any bench, let alone the Supreme Court of the United States.

Of course, judges don't get paid a lot compared to the huge responsibilities they carry, including rendering judgments that could send a person to jail or death row and forcing corporations into bankruptcy.     But a businessman with that kind of influence, who had a great deal of respect from blacks as well as whites, to risk throwing it all away with remarks or conduct that was anything but cute ... would Americans want to trust that kind of man with a button?

It's not his denials, but the way he denied it.   Frankly, paying off someone to drop a lawsuit, even if the payer is innocent, doesn't leave a good impression.   He could have been a serious challenger to President Obama but he let it slip away by not regaining control of the discussion.   With money comes power and, if not exercised properly, arrogance.

His exit probably means that America won't have a discussion about a national sales tax, the only major democracy that doesn't but almost certainly should.

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