Roger L. Simon

Politico and Cain: Return of the High-Tech Lynching

It took the mainstream media nearly a year to catch up with the John Edwards Affair, but only weeks into Herman Cain’s narrow frontrunner status for the GOP nomination, the goodfellas at Politico are letting the uppity black conservative have it.

They begin their “Exclusive: Two women accused Herman Cain of inappropriate behavior” this way:

During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.

It goes on with a fair amount of unsourced innuendo. Is there any way we can ever know the truth of this? Probably not since the parties are said to have agreed to remain silent for a five-figure payment, a paltry amount in this day and age. One thing is certain, whatever Cain did (if anything), it certainly isn’t in the ballpark of using campaign funds to support a mistress and love child while your wife is dying of cancer or even inserting a cigar in the pudenda of an unpaid intern in the corridors of the Oval Office. Those are certainly more than five-figure infractions — more like eight-figure.

Nevertheless, Cain’s campaign is taking a body blow. We’ll see what emerges. But I would like to mention one thing. Back in 1991, during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, I believed Anita Hill. Years later, my life had changed, and I came to meet Thomas himself at a social gathering. He turned out to be a delightful, unassuming person — it was hard to believe a Supreme Court justice could be so down to Earth and decent to be with on a social level.

I liked him a lot and am now skeptical that I was right about Hill. Maybe it had been just a high-tech lynching. Of course, I don’t know for sure — how can you in these things? But that’s the point, isn’t it? We all live on the knife edge of accusation. I’m the CEO of a media company and I am frequently concerned that I will be sued for sexual harassment. I’m not that kind of person at all, but given the way things are now, you can’t be too careful. I dare not compliment a woman on her hairdo in the workplace for fear I am open to suit.

Herman Cain lived and lives in that world too. So when he responded to a reporter’s queries on this case with “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?” I knew where he was coming from.

Politico typically buries the defense of Cain on page four of their article.

It’s interesting that his supporters use their real names (unlike his accusers). Ron Magruder, Denise Marie Fugo and Joseph Fassler, the chair, vice chair and immediate past chairman of the National Restaurant Association board of directors at the time of Cain’s departure, said they hadn’t heard about any complaints regarding Cain making unwanted advances.

“I have never heard that. It would be news to me,” said Fugo, who runs a Cleveland, Ohio, catering company, adding such behavior would be totally out of character for the Cain she knew. “He’s very gracious.”

The support goes on, but we all know that will never make the front of the news. As Glenn Reynolds points out, another black man ran for president and mainstream media has surfaced almost nothing about him after all these years. We don’t even know something so trivial as his college grades, although Rick Perry’s emerged seemingly minutes after he declared his candidacy.

They also gave him a pass on spending twenty years in the church of a virulent racist. No one in the media asked him a serious question about it, nor did they ask him in any depth about his friendship with a unrepentant Weatherman. That’s just cute.

But never fear, when it comes to a black conservative, Politico is on the case. Never mind that what really happened is of course just as unknown to them as it is to us. That’s not the point. A man like Cain cannot be allowed in the White House. Why… why…. he might just…. harass an intern!

Update: Herman Cain appeared on Fox Monday and said the allegations are “baseless.”