Klavan On The Culture

Why We Should Be Unfair to Herman Cain

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Conservatives have been expressing genuine anguish at the recent treatment of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

It isn’t fair, they say. In 1998, when Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff got the full details of President Bill Clinton’s adulterous affair with a 21-year-old intern, the magazine killed the story, leaving the nascent new media, in the person of The Drudge Report, to bring it to light. In 2007, when John Edwards was still a viable Democratic presidential candidate, the National Enquirer broke the news of his illicit affair and illegitimate child, but the mainstream media actually covered it up, with one CNN journalist explaining it was “unimportant.”

And yet when the left wing news website Politico recently published anonymous allegations about 10-year-old sexual harassment complaints against Cain, the mainstream media lit up like a Christmas tree. For a week, the aforementioned CNN and the other left wing outlets went wall-to-wall with the charges. And now, with Sharon Bialek finally stepping forward to make more detailed accusations in person—accusations Cain wholly denies—we can be sure the story will remain explosive for some time to come.

Not only is the news coverage of alleged sexual misconduct different according to political affiliation, the consequences of actual misconduct are often quite different as well. Republican congressman Mark Foley sent suggestive emails to male pages; he resigned under GOP pressure. Democratic congressman Gerry Studds actually had sex with one of the boys, then flung defiance at the House when they censured him; he was re-elected by Democrats until his retirement.

And what if a drunken Republican senator had accidentally dropped a car containing his adultery mate into the water? What if he had sauntered back to his hotel to clean up while the poor woman desperately pounded on the car window until she drowned horribly? Would conservatives have re-elected that man? Would they have declared that man “The Lion of the Senate?” The very idea makes one ill. Conservatives would have demanded his arrest and trial with a single voice.

So the double standard continues with Cain. Not only have the reliably left wing news sites like ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN been acting as if this were the story of the decade, but right wing sites like Fox and our own PJMedia have added fuel to the fire, eagerly tracking down more details. You can be sure that will keep happening as the story proceeds. And if Cain turns out to be guilty, you won’t be hearing any excuses for him here.

And yes, it’s unfair. But there’s a reason it’s unfair—a reason it should be unfair. There’s a reason we right wingers vet our candidates while the left adulates theirs, a reason we condemn our miscreants while the left elevates theirs, a reason our news outlets cover stories that the left covers up.

The reason is:  we’re the good guys. We have to do what’s right. The left doesn’t. Sorry, but that’s the way it works. It’s the price you pay for defending what’s true and good, the price of holding yourself to a high moral standard. Our politicians have to be better than their politicians. Our journalists have to be more honest. Even our protesters have to behave with decorum and decency—and still suffer being slandered—while theirs can act like animals and commit acts of violence and lawlessness and spew anti-semitic filth and still find themselves excused and glorified.

There’s a reason the bad guy in movies is always chuckling darkly while the hero frequently finds himself with a laser beam cutting a path toward his vitals. The world is a place that has to be fought for and wrongdoers hold high power in every field. Liars wear ties and sit behind desks and tell us “That’s the way it is!” while drawing seven figure salaries from mainstream corporations. Truth tellers—the Becks, the Limbaughs, the Coulters, the Breitbarts—have to create their own venues while dodging brickbats and charges of bigotry and meanness and insanity.

Herman Cain is going to have to run the gauntlet, not just of a racist and dishonest left that wants to destroy him but of a fair-minded and decency-loving right that wants him to come fully clean and let the voters decide how we should proceed. The fight for truth, liberty and morality requires sacrifice and self-examination. The self-righteous quest for power over others does not.

The world is just as unfair as you think it is. You’ll never catch the devil hanging on a cross.

Update: I’ve added a new post to respond to some of the comments on this site and elsewhere.

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